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November Book of the Month: Tax, Estate, and Financial Planning for the Elderly

Tax, Estate, and Financial Planning for the ElderlyTax, Estate, and Financial Planning for the Elderly
By John J. Regan, Rebecca C. Morgan, David M. English & H. Amos Goodall, Jr.
Reviewed by Ruth Geos, Reference Librarian

In June of this year, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg announced that she doesn’t plan to retire for at least another five years, when she will be 90. She is one not defined by her age, but by the force of her being, good health, and personal strength.

For the rest of those who are looking ahead to retirement or facing changes in their way of life, finances, health, and control as they age, no book would be a better start than this one volume. It has no fancy cover, no pictures, and no forms. But it does contain a wealth of information aimed at both individuals looking for answers within the maze of legal and financial issues that arise, and attorneys developing the highly specialized practice of Elder Law with practical techniques and insight into the intertwining of issues and family context. Indeed, the very organization of the book keeps both parts of the practice clearly in sight. Each chapter begins with a short synopsis of the topic, with the kind of basic questions everyone wants to know (such as, how does a ROTH IRA differ from a traditional IRA? See § 2.06), and then expands into a full analysis of the type of asset protection, governmental or private benefit program, along with legal and psychological issues, and citations to statutes, regulations, cases, and other authority for additional research. It is an impressive source for both attorney and client.

Individual chapters address the major areas of law and top areas of concern: Social Security Benefits; Veterans’ Benefits; Private Pensions; Income Tax; Housing Concerns; Property Management during Incapacity; Health Care Rights and Decisions; Nursing Homes; Guardians and Conservators, Estate Planning, and Elder Abuse. Each topic includes a thorough summary of rights, a clear organization and analysis of the distinctions within a complex benefits program, such as Social Security, SSI, or Medicaid, which provides a clarity that is hard to find—not too simplified to be useful, and not just litigation-based to limit the kind of information that a full counseling requires. Tax issues are folded in as an intrinsic aspect of each topic, and a separate chapter on Financial Planning includes an extensive checklist to both assist clients and to aid the attorney in being comprehensive in making suggestions and building a strategy together.

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The authors consistently emphasize the role of communication and counseling. This defined approach is infused with a depth of empathy and psychological awareness of the fact that the primary goal of most clients is to maintain personal autonomy over their lives, and that the financial and legal issues that come up should be approached with that goal of empowerment. The publication is bookended by a first chapter on counseling the client and an introduction to the special focus required for elder law issues—including the need to create a productive atmosphere in the office to best exchange information—and ends with a last chapter on ethical issues and representation. Throughout, the authors describe building a relationship between attorney and client where the attorney provides information not only on the specific issue brought to the meeting, but also includes other useful information and resources, such as how to organize documents, disaster planning, and information on local community and agency services, senior centers, and other supportive organizations. It sets a high standard for the type and level of competence needed for an elder law practice, including a deep and wide knowledge about private and governmental benefit programs, legal and tax issues, financial planning—all connected to a wider social context, for the fullest representation possible.

For individuals bravely looking ahead on their own, this is also a source to light the way.

Tax, Estate, and Financial Planning for the Elderly is available in print at the San Francisco Law Library. A wide range of other elder law materials, including CA-specific treatises and various model forms can be found on the San Francisco Law Library’s LibGuide to elder law—or ask a Reference Librarian.

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Book Review: Cannabis Taxation

Cannabis TaxationCannabis Taxation: Federal and State Tax Guidebook from CCH Tax Perspectives

We all know what comes next now that recreational cannabis is legal in California – taxes!  While California has decriminalized cannabis, and San Francisco will even retroactively expunge or reduce marijuana charges en masse, the Federal Government still lists cannabis as an illegal narcotic, leading to patchwork laws and uncertainty.  The Cannabis Taxation: Federal and State Tax Guidebook from CCH Tax Perspectives offers an overview of taxation issues in the burgeoning cannabis industry. This slim guidebook contains analysis of the federal taxation provisions, a state-by-state breakdown of the industry is taxed, and a sample client letter for tax professionals to use to reach out to clients. Tax and cannabis professionals can use this new title together with the Library’s other cannabis law resources, including Marijuana Law in a Nutshell, our Cannabis Law LibGuide, and the new California cannabis regulations.  And take a look at our Cannabis Regulations Reference Sheet below as well.


Reference Sheet for Cannabis Regulations

From BARCLAYS CALIFORNIA CODE OF REGULATIONS (also available here through Westlaw)

Register 2017, No. 49, dated December 8, 2017:

  • Volume 4, Title 3, Division 8 (“Cannabis Cultivation”): Pages 429-459
  • Volume 21A, Title 16, Division 42 (“Bureau of Cannabis Control”): Pages 555-601
  • Volume 22, Title 17, Division 1, Chapter 13 (“Manufactured Cannabis Safety”): Pages 248.20 – 248.44

Register 2017, No. 52, dated December 29, 2017:

  • Volume 23, Title 18 Public Revenues, State Board of Equalization, Business Tax: Chapter 8.7, Cannabis Tax Regulation, §§3700-3701, pp. 205-206

Register 2018, No. 1, dated January 5, 2018:

  • Volume 24, Title 18 Public Revenues, Division 4, Office of Tax Appeals, p.521-540 (see page 3 of the Digest of New Regulations for specifics for this new agency)
    • From the Digest:  “The Office of Tax Appeals (OTA) has adopted emergency regulations concerning appeals from actions taken by the Franchise Tax Board (FTB) or the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA). The OTA is an independent body created by the Taxpayer Transparency and Fairness Act of 2017. Its mission is to provide a fair, objective and timely process for appeals by California taxpayers. As of January 1, 2018, the OTA has sole jurisdiction over tax appeals arising from actions taken by the FTB and the CDTFA.”

Also see the 2018 pocket part for WEST’S ANNOTATED CALIFORNIA CODES in the last volume containing the Index for Business & Professions Code (v.5D), Food & Agriculture Code (v.31D) and the Health & Safety Code (v.41I)

  • The entry “cannabis” will refer you to “Drugs and Medicine” and within that to “Marijuana”