January 22, 2016 Weekly Round Up

We’ve survived another week!  This was not a particularly busy week for ag law, with the exception of the WOTUS issue, where the drama moved to the White House and only continues.  Check it out.

* US Congress Passes Joint Resolution to Nullify EPA’s New WOTUS Rule, Obama Vetoes.  The House and Senate passed a Joint Resolution stating that the EPA/Corps of Engineers new regulation defining “waters of the United States” “shall have no force or effect.”  This would essentially maintain the status quo regarding the WOTUS definition unless the EPA tried a new rule making process.  Before you get too excited, President Obama vetoed the measure shortly after it arrived on his desk.  Reports are that WOTUS opponents do not have the votes necessary to override the veto.  This means that currently, the WOTUS rule remains in place but is stayed nationally based on litigation in the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.  [Read articles here and here.]

Photo via Jennifer Blackburn, Lubbock, TX

* Remember To Send Necessary Form 1099s.  The deadline for sending 1099 forms to anyone who performed over $700 in services for you in 2015.  For example, custom harvesters, fence builders, tree trimmers, accountants, attorneys….all of these folks are prime candidates for needing 1099 forms.  I wrote an article last year discussing this issue and it received a lot of “I never knew that!” comments in response.  To brush up on the rules, click here.  The deadline is January 31, 2016.

* What Farmers Need to Know About Security Interests.  I try and stay far away from security interests after that being by far my least favorite topic on the bar exam.  Thankfully, my friends at the University of Maryland Ag Law Blog recently wrote a blog post outlining what farmers need to know about security interests at a very basic, understandable level.  [Read post here.]

 * Equal v. Fair Estate Planning.  Wealth Management had an article this week discussing the difference between fair and equal shares when it comes to bequeathing your assets.  This question often arises for farm and ranch families, particularly if there is one child who has remained at home working on the farm and another who has moved to town.  It may be that leaving the farm in equal shares would not be a fair distribution, and, likewise, a fair distribution might not be equal.  As this article mentions, there are a variety of factors to take into consideration in evaluating this issue.  Most importantly, folks need to have an estate plan in place! [Read article here.]

* Don’t Want Your Ex To Get Rich? Update Your Beneficiaries!  This is a topic I preach and preach on, and a lot of people seem shocked when I am done.  Remember that there are certain assets (often substantial ones) that pass outside of your estate.  For example, a 401K or life insurance policy required you to designate a beneficiary when it was started.  Regardless of what has happened since that time and regardless of what your will says, the beneficiary designation will govern distribution.  This could mean that if you designated your ex girlfriend/boyfriend as your beneficiary 10 years ago and have since parted ways, he or she could get rich when you die unless you update your beneficiary designations.  [Read article here.]

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