Trusts and Estates

Ca. Trs. & Estates Quarterly 2015, Volume 21, Issue 3


By Erin L. Prouty, Esq.*

Now that one of the hottest summers in recent memory is behind us, to what, you may ask, can we turn to occupy our minds? The rest of the football season? Bracing ourselves for an El Nino winter? In the immortal words of John Pinette, I say "nay nay." Install new wiper blades on your car and set your DVR to record your favorite team’s game this weekend. Then, settle into your favorite comfy chair with this Quarterly publication and prepare yourself to enjoy the thrilling subject of…wait for it…TAXES! As Benjamin Franklin so aptly observed, the only two things certain in life are death and taxes. What better job security, then, could we have than to be trusts and estates lawyers?

This is the second Tax Symposium edition of the Quarterly, dedicated entirely to tax issues in the trusts and estates arena. The Trusts and Estates Section Executive Committee ("TEXCOM") has compiled articles on a variety of issues; international and domestic, federal and state, basic and complex. There should be something in this edition for every trusts and estates lawyer.

California has a unique and aggressive set of rules for taxation of trusts and estates. Practitioners should have an understanding of these rules to avoid traps. These rules can subject trust income to California state income tax based on the status of the trustees, beneficiaries, or trust assets. A beneficiary who moves to this state, or who becomes entitled to trust assets due to attaining a certain age, can find herself with an unexpected tax liability, sometimes on income earned in prior years! Richard Kinyon, Kim Marois, and Sonja Johnson expertly explain these complex rules in a manner that is easy to understand, in the article entitled "California Income Taxation of Trusts and Estates." The article includes several sample scenarios that bring these rules into focus.

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