Trusts and Estates in the Spotlight on Beacon Hill

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Brad Bedingfield, Esq., Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

A number of bills impacting trusts and estates practitioners are currently under consideration by Beacon Hill. On May 18, 2011, representatives of the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bankers Association testified before the Joint Committee on the Judiciary regarding several of these bills, including a version of the Uniform Trust Code (Bill # H2261 / S688, discussed in further detail here); repeal of the 2008 Adopted Children’s Act (Bill # H2262, discussed in further detail here); and a bill pertaining to certain technical corrections to the Massachusetts Uniform Probate Code (Bill # S704). In addition, the Joint Committee is considering a bill pertaining to payment of interest on pecuniary legacies and distributions (Bill # S732). The Massachusetts Uniform Trust Code (which, as filed, is scheduled to become effective on January 2, 2012) would go a long way towards modernizing Massachusetts trust law, and would help bring Massachusetts in line with the twenty-three other states that have passed a version of the Uniform Trust Code, including Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont.

In addition, the Boston Bar Association, along with the Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Bankers Association, is working with the Joint Committee on Taxation regarding a bill (Bill # H2559) pertaining to cost basis step-up on death. Because of an apparently accidental disconnect between various federal and Massachusetts statutes (discussed in further detail here), assets passing from Massachusetts decedents in 2010 and thereafter may no longer receive a step-up in cost basis for purposes of Massachusetts capital gains tax. Unlike the federal law, this apparent limitation on cost basis step-up is not limited to decedents who died in 2010, but will remain a problem indefinitely, unless corrected.

All of the foregoing bills are currently under Committee review, and all have been endorsed by the Boston Bar Association. If you are interested in helping to get these bills passed, please contact your congressional representative.