U.S. Eighth Circuit - The FindLaw 8th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

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Handwritten Letter Didn't Amend Trust: Mo. Supreme Court

Dr. K.R. Conklin had two children from his first marriage, and then acquired two stepchildren (not adopted) via his second marriage. In 1996, before his second marriage, he created a trust for the benefit of his biological children only (conveniently called "Children" in the opinion).

In 2002, Conklin and his second wife Jo undertook a cross-country trip by plane and automobile. On their way to the airport, Conklin wrote a letter by hand indicating what should happen to his estate if he and his wife should die during this trip. The letter included the two stepchildren in the distribution of Conklin's assets. He left the letter in the car's glovebox, which was parked at the airport.

Reasonable Compensation? John Edwards Tax Shelter Strikes Again

If you follow tax law, you’ve probably heard of the John Edwards tax shelter. Former vice-presidential candidate Edwards saved a bundle in payroll taxes - around $600,000 - by forming an S-Corporation, paying himself a relatively modest salary through the S-Corp, and taking the rest of his pay in dividends.

This week, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the IRS properly assessed an Iowa accountant — who implemented a similar tax shelter plan — for additional payroll taxes because the accountant had not paid himself “reasonable compensation.”

Artificial Insemination Child Denied Social Security Benefits

Children are expensive. Childcare and tuition costs are increasing far faster than the rate of inflation. As a result, many couples are waiting longer to have a child, which, in turn, means that more couples are turning to fertility treatments, including artificial insemination, to conceive when they can afford a child.

Why should this matter to lawyers?

Sometimes family planning does not occur on the couples’ intended schedules. Sometimes one partner dies before the couple can start a family. But when the surviving partner decides to have children using the eggs or sperm of his/her late spouse, the legal result can turn into a nightmare hypothetical from your law school past.