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October 2012 Archives

William Faulkner's Estate Sues Sony Over 'Midnight in Paris' Line

The heirs of William Faulkner are alive and well, and they're defending the late author's legacy in a pair of lawsuits.

The lawsuits allege the same thing: that a copyrighted phrase was misappropriated, writes The Associated Press.

Faulkner's estate is suing Sony Pictures Classics over the use of the phrase, "The past is not dead! Actually, it's not even past." The line was used in the 2011 film "Midnight in Paris."

While it's not a direct quote from Faulkner's "Requiem for a Nun," it's still close enough for Faulkner's heirs to pursue a copyright lawsuit.

How Does Mitt Romney Avoid Paying Higher Taxes?

How does Mitt Romney escape paying higher taxes?

We've been hearing a lot lately about how Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, only pays about 13% in federal income taxes.

Of course, we're in the midst of a political campaign so the accuracy of these allegations is the subject of intense debate. But let's take a look at his wealth planning to get a better picture on how (and if) he avoids paying higher taxes.

For starters, the Romneys give a considerable amount to charity. According to their 2010 tax return, the Romneys reduced their taxable income by giving $3 million to charity, reports Forbes.

Mary Kennedy's House Up for Sale

Mary Kennedy's suicide house is up for sale.

The 14 room Bedford house is listed at $3,995,000, reports The Associated Press.

While Mary Kennedy didn't die in that house, she did hang herself in a different house on that estate.

We don't have details on the ownership of the house but it brings us to a good discussion on joint tenancy and how it plays into an estate plan.

New Ruling! Lesbian Couple Can Take Estate Tax Marital Deduction

Here's a very interesting estate planning case involving a lesbian couple and estate tax.

But before we go into the facts, let's break down some quick estate tax concepts, so that you can understand the story.

Brief primer on estate tax. Estate tax is a tax levied on the estate of a dying person. So once a person dies, all of his or her assets are valued. If her assets have a value over the estate tax limit, then the estate must pay estate tax from the assets. For 2012, the estate tax limit is $5.12 million and for 2013, it's still TBD, but will likely be $1 million.

Lottery Winnings and Tax Planning: MA Man Wins Mega Millions

A young man from the Boston area recently came into a substantially large amount of cash when he won the lottery.

With that much cash on hand, we must ask -- what is his estate planning strategy?

Sandeep "Sunny" Singh of Hyannis won $30.5 million in the Mega Millions lottery this week. The 22 year old has talked about what he plans to do with the money. He chose to receive it outright in one lump sum of $23 million, reports The Boston Globe.

O.J. Simpson Names Khloe Kardashian in His Will?

The Kardashians can't stay out of the news. O.J. Simpson can't stay out of the news.

Put the two together and what do you get? A paternity scandal.

As many may already know, O.J. Simpson is now claiming to be the biological father of Khloe Kardashian. For those in the dark on celeb gossip, Khloe and her siblings rose to fame by chronicling their life on reality TV.

Arthur Ochs Sulzberger's Children Trying to Sell NY Times Stock

Details on the estate of Arthur Ochs Sulzberger are slowly emerging, according to the New York Daily News.

Sulzberger, one of the most prolific publishers The New York Times had ever seen, passed away in the Hamptons last month. He was 86 years old.

During his lifetime, he was best known as the chairman and CEO of The New York Times Co., where he reigned supreme for 34 years.

Mitt Romney's Estate Tax Repeal Could Hurt Charitable Funding

Could Mitt Romney's tax policy hurt nonprofits?

Mitt Romney is talking about repealing the estate tax, Bloomberg News reports. Estate tax is intrinsically tied to charitable giving. 

Charitable bequests help reduce the estate tax burden and with no estate tax, there's less incentive for large estates to make charitable bequests.

Asset Diversification is Important in Financial Planning

Diversifying your assets is an important move. It's important to invest in different areas and to have a diverse portfolio of investments.

In short-- don't put all your eggs in one basket.

If the Great Recession taught us anything, it's that you never know which one of your assets could take a plunge in value. Assets can move in tandem and that's not something you want happening in your portfolio, writes U.S. News.

The tandem effect (i.e. assets growing or declining together, in the same direction) typically happens when your portfolio deals in too many similar assets. So investing in real property and with mortgage lenders can leave a hole in your portfolio if the housing market tumbles, like it did in the Great Recession, says U.S. News.

Mistakes Celebrities Make: The Sad Case of Gary Coleman

Lawyers aren't necessarily good at everything. For example, a criminal lawyer might be able to draft a will, but is it wise?

An article on a blog called Millionaire Corner talks about mistakes celebrities make when drafting wills. One of these mistakes is not using an experienced estate planning attorney.

Huguette Clark Estate Battle Heading to Court

The late Huguette Clark's estate is in controversy. The reclusive New York heiress left a $300 million embattled estate, reports The Huffington Post.

The battle is between members of Clark's extended family and several close parties, including her medical providers. Now, the fight is heading to court.

Whitney Houston's Estate Seeks to Limit Bobbi Kristina's Funds

Whitney Houston's estate is asking the court to stop paying the late singer's 19-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown.

Relatives claim it's for her own good.

According to ABC News, the estate filed a petition in a Georgia court this week, alleging that the estate is trying to provide "security and protection" for Bobbi Kristina by limiting her access to the funds.

Make Gifts Now: $5M Gift Tax Exemption to Expire Soon

Time is running out! The gift that tax law has given high net worth individuals is about to expire. We're talking about the gift tax exemption.

Right now, it's at $5.12 million. If nothing happens in Congress (and it's unlikely that anything will, since this is an election year), then the tax exemption amount will go down to $1 million on Jan. 1.

That's actually the same level the exemption was at in 2002, when former President George W. Bush's tax cuts took effect, MarketWatch reports.