July was another quiet month in the sense that there were no
decisions of note reported in Massachusetts. It was not a quiet
month overall, however, for T&E lawyers in Massachusetts.
Most significantly, with Governor Patrick's signature on
July 8, 2012, the MUTC finally became the law of the Commonwealth.
The legislation also made certain technical corrections to the MUPC
and amended the Probate Court's fee schedule. Much has already
been written about the MUTC and the MUPC, and much more will be
written, but on the most practical level the link to the new fee
schedule can be found
In further news from the Massachusetts Legislature, on July 26,
2012, the House initially approved a bill that would give family
members and others in charge of the estates of individuals who die
in Massachusetts access to their e-mail accounts. The Senate passed
the bill (S 2313) in late June, and with two more House sessions
scheduled before the end of formal sessions on July 31, 2012, the
House nudged the bill forward. The bill would require e-mail
providers to give access to e-mails to authorized family members or
Outside Massachusetts, an interesting controversy is brewing
between the IRS and the heirs of New York art dealer Ileana
Sonnabend. When Ms. Sonnabend died in 2007, one of the pieces she
left to her children is "Canyon," a masterwork of
20th-century art created by Robert Rauschenberg. Because the work
includes a stuffed bald eagle, the heirs would be committing a
felony if they were to try to sell it, and so their appraisers have
concluded that it has zero market value. The IRS, on the other
hand, has appraised the work at $65 million and is demanding $29.2
million in taxes. In effect, if the heirs do not pay the tax, they
would be guilty of violating federal tax laws, but if they were to
try to sell the work to cover the tax bill, they could go to jail
for violating eagle protection laws. A link to an article from The
New York Times reporting on the controversy can be found
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It is important that you have updated financial powers of attorney and New Hampshire Advance Directives, clearly nominating your spouse (or another) as the primary person to make decisions in the event of incapacity.