Inherited IRAs – Once Protected – Now Possibly Fair Game for Creditors

A. Thomas DeWoskin

By A. Thomas DeWoskin



You should read this article if  –

  1. You expect to transfer funds to your descendants through an individual retirement account (IRA); or
  2. You have inherited an IRA from a relative.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in Clark v. Rameker that the money in an inherited IRA does not qualify for the protection from creditors as provided in the Federal Bankruptcy Code.[1]

The Court concluded that funds in an IRA which was inherited from someone else are not really retirement funds.  It gave three reasons for this conclusion.  The holder of an inherited IRA:

  1. Can never invest additional money into the account.
  2. Is required to withdraw money from the account, no matter how far away retirement may be.
  3. May withdraw the entire balance of the account at any time – and use it for any purpose – without penalty. Continue reading »

Inherited IRAs Not Protected in Bankruptcy

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



Co-authored by Misty Watson and Samantha Maerz

If you directly inherited an IRA and are facing bankruptcy, these funds are no longer protected from creditors.

In Clark v. Rameker (In re Clark), No. 13-299, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that inherited IRAs do not qualify under the “retirement funds” bankruptcy exemption. As a result, non-spouses inheriting an IRA may no longer protect the funds from creditors after filing bankruptcy and spouses have more incentive to “roll over” inherited IRA funds.

Before the Supreme Court decided Clark, there was a split between the 5th and 7th Circuit Courts of Appeals regarding exactly what the “retirement funds” bankruptcy exemption covered. In Chilton v. Moser, the 5th Circuit previously held that inherited IRAs were exempt from the bankruptcy estate because the “retirement funds” exemption never stated that the retirement funds had to be the debtor’s. In Clark v. Rameker, the 7th Circuit disagreed and held that inherited IRAs were not exempt because they were an “opportunity for current consumption, not a fund of retirement savings.” The disagreement stemmed from the interpretation of what “retirement funds” included. Continue reading »

All Married Couples in Missouri Filing Joint Federal Returns Must Also File Joint State Returns

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



Married couples in Missouri who file joint federal tax returns, including those not recognized as married by the state but recognized as married in other states, must also now file jointly in the state of Missouri.

Governor Jay Nixon issued the executed order clarifying that, under Missouri law, couples filing joint federal income tax returns must also file joint state returns.

Click here to read more.

Posted by Attorney Misty A. Watson. Watson’s practice focus is estate-related: planning, administration, and probate. She creates trusts, wills, financial, and health care powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships.

Lack of Guidance Leaves Married Gay Couples in Uncertain Tax Position

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



Almost every expert out there is weighing in on the legal implications of last month’s Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Unfortunately, the IRS has not issued guidance regarding how married couples treat income in states that do not recognize their marriage, whether the IRS will allow income tax returns to be amended for the previous three years, or whether the IRS will allow married couples to file as married in states that do not recognize the marriage.

While IRS guidance is likely on the way, affected couples may have to sort through a confusing minefield of regulations for some time yet.

For more information, contact a qualified tax advisor, and go to “For some gays in America, a legal victory becomes a tax headache.”

Posted by Attorney Misty A. Watson. Watson’s practice focus is estate-related: planning, administration, and probate. She creates trusts, wills, financial, and health care powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships.

 

New Family and Medical Leave Act Guidance for Families of Adult Children with Disabilities

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



Families now have clarification on when parents may use leave to care for an adult child with a mental or physical disability.

On January 14, 2013, the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor issued additional guidance to help employers determine eligibility of employees to take leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) when the employee has an adult child with a mental or physical disability incapable of self-care due to a serious health condition.

Generally,  entitlement to FMLA leave ends when a child is 18 years old. “Incapable of self-care” means that the individual requires active assistance or supervision to provide daily self-care in three or more of the “activities of daily living” or “instrumental activities of daily living.” Continue reading »

Financial Exploitation of the Elderly and Disabled Crime Modified to Include Undue Influence

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



Senior citizens and the disabled in Missouri will soon have additional protection from financial exploitation.

On July 11, 2012, Missouri SB 689 was signed by Governor Jay Nixon. SB 689 modifies the crime of financial exploitation of the elderly to include “undue influence.”

“Undue influence” is defined under the bill as:

“… influence by a person who has authority over the elderly or disabled person in order to take unfair advantage of the person’s vulnerable state of mind, neediness, pain, or agony. It includes improper use of various types of fiduciary authority.”

Under the bill, the Department of Social Services may now release the income and asset information of an individual in a licensed nursing home facility to the prosecuting attorney for purposes of investigation or prosecution of financial exploitation.

Continue reading »

Survivor Benefits for Unborn Children: Supreme Court Ruling Sides With State Law

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



The Supreme Court ruled on May 21, 2012 in Astrue v. Capato that twins conceived through in vitro fertilization after the death of their father were not eligible for survivor’s benefits through the Social Security Administration, upholding the Social Security Administration’s previous determination. According to the Court’s opinion, Mr. Capato lived in Florida at the time of his death. Under Florida law, the children do not qualify for inheritance through intestate succession (the children are not considered heirs of their father’s estate) and are ineligible to receive survivor benefits.

Florida law requires that in order for children to qualify for an inheritance, they must be born or conceived prior to the death of the parent. Because the Capato children were born 18 months after the death of their father, they were not considered to be his children for inheritance purposes under the law. Consequently, the Social Security Administration determined that the children were not eligible for survivorship benefits.

Unlike Florida, Missouri statute provides that all posthumous children (children born after the death of a parent) inherit as if they were born during the lifetime of the deceased parent, as do grandchildren and further descendants. However, other heirs, such as siblings or cousins, must be born and capable to take their share, prior to the death of the deceased.

Continue reading »

Estate Planning for Young Professionals: Why Considering Your Death is Important Even at this Age

David A. Zobel

By David A. Zobel



Part of a monthly multi-part series of discussions aimed at explaining legal and financial considerations for young professionals as they establish and develop their careers, relationships and lives

It’s probably a safe bet that most people in their twenties and thirties have not given much thought to estate planning. Short of a first child or a friend asking if you want life insurance, planning for what will happen when you die probably hasn’t come up and why should it? You’ve got youth and health on your side. Moreover, you probably don’t have a lot of assets at this point.

So why is it important? I asked estate planning attorney Misty Watson to help explain. According to Watson,

“Planning for the future encompasses much more than where your property goes upon your death. Estate planning can also cover who handles your finances if you are out of town, who makes medical decisions for you in the event you become incapacitated, and who becomes your guardian if a court declares you incompetent.”

With these thoughts in mind, you may want to reflect upon the following considerations:

What Happens to My Assets?

You have more than you think you have. Even if you don’t own a home or a wall safe full of bullion, you still have assets and they need to be distributed somehow and to someone. Consider the following examples: bank accounts, savings accounts, stock, bonds, 401ks, IRAs, other retirement accounts, automobiles, clothes, art, appliances, and furniture. Chances are you have at least one of these things and more than likely you have a few. Maybe you’d like your friend to get your watch or a fund be set aside for your nephew’s college fund. Estate planning assists in sorting out who gets what and when.

What Happens to My Children?

If you have children and are single, chances are you may have spoken with someone about taking care of your children in the event you pass. However, without any sort of document proving these intentions, how will the State know what to do? If you are married with children, your spouse will take on the responsibility, but what if you die at the same time? Or get divorced? Your children’s future should be your decision and not left up to the State or a court system.

Continue reading »

IRS Publishes Guidelines for Domestic Partners and Same-Sex Spouses

Misty A. Watson

By Misty A. Watson



The IRS has published guidelines for domestic partners in community property states and same-sex spouses in California.

Each year, many LGBT couples must complete two separate and completely different tax returns. For states recognizing same-sex marriage or allowing the registration of domestic partners, the couple may be able to file jointly for their state tax return. Then, due to the provisions of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the couple must individually complete separate federal tax returns.

The IRS guidelines help with couples in which an individual may be eligible for head of household status and clarify that each member of the couple must file a separate tax return.

For more information, click here:Questions and Answers for Registered Domestic Partners in Community Property States and Same-Sex Spouses in California.”

Posted by Attorney Misty A. Watson. Watson’s practice focus is estate-related: planning, administration, and probate. She creates trusts, wills, financial, and health care powers of attorney, guardianships, and conservatorships.