Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Commissioner v. Estate of Bosch case brief

Commissioner v. Estate of Bosch case brief summary
387 U.S. 456


PROCEDURAL POSTURE: The Court granted certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to decide whether the federal government in an estate tax controversy was conclusively bound by a state trial court adjudication of property rights, when the United States was not made a party to the proceeding.

FACTS:
-Bosch wrote a will which created a revocable trust for his wife.
-It also gave Bosch's wife a general power of appointment.
(A general power of appointment means that the wife could only get the interest from the assets in the trust. But, she had the power to give the assets (the remainder) to whoever she wanted to  after she died.)
-Years later, the wife had the power converted to a special power.
(A special power of appointment is the similar, except you are limited to who you can give the assets to (usually a limited class of people such as 'relatives' or 'descendents'))
-Bosch died, and the wife claimed a marital deduction for the money in the trust.
-The IRS disagreed.
-The marital deduction was only allowable if there was a general power of appointment, so the wife argued that the release she signed converting it was invalid.
-Mrs. Bosch went to the State Court in New York and had the court agree that the release was invalid. -The IRS appealed in the Federal Court.
-The IRS argued that the State Court decision did not (or should not) bind them.
OVERVIEW: The Court granted certiorari to decide whether a federal court or agency in a federal estate tax controversy was conclusively bound by a state trial court adjudication of property rights or characterization of property interests, when the United States was not made a party to such a proceeding. The controversy involved two different cases in which different panels of the same court of appeals had decided the cases differently.

HOLDING:
The Court concluded that, where the federal estate tax liability turned upon the character of a property interest held and transferred by the decedent under state law, federal authorities were not bound by the determination made of that property interest by a state trial court. Accordingly, the judgment in accordance with the holding was affirmed while the judgment in contravention was reversed.

OUTCOME: The judgment of the court of appeals holding that the parties' rights had been conclusively decided by the state court decree was reversed, as federal authorities were not bound by determinations made of such property interests by a state trial court.

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