OUR VIEW: Ash decision met with relief

By Daily News • Last Updated 11:42 am on Thursday, May 31, 2012

Jennifer Ash said her goal was always to do the right thing on behalf of her father’s trust.

We think she did the right thing for everyone.

After much debate and several court hearings regarding a tax dispute, Jennifer Ash — the daughter of the late Stanley and Blanche Ash of Greenville — announced she would release $4.3 million from her father’s fund to pay her mother’s estate taxes. Ms. Ash also dissolved the lawsuit regarding who should pay the taxes.

Ms. Ash’s decision ensures that multiple local beneficiaries will receive funds donated by Mr. and Mrs. Ash, including Big Brothers Big Sisters, EightCAP Inc., Greenville Area Community Foundation, the Education Foundation of Greenville, Montcalm Area Reading Council, Montcalm Community College and Foundation, Montcalm County 4-H Fair and Montcalm County Habitat for Humanity, just to name a few. Local cities, fire departments and libraries were also recipients of the funds.

The tax dispute in question was an issue most of us were not familiar with. We learned about legal estate terms such as QTIP (qualified terminable interest property) trusts.

Attorney Robert Brower argued that Mr. Ash’s QTIP trust should pay Mrs. Ash’s estate taxes, based on a provision Mr. Ash made stating all estate taxes would be paid from his QTIP trust.

Attorney Alan Valade had argued the QTIP trust should not pay the estate taxes due to a statement in Mrs. Ash’s will, which waived her estate’s right to obtain reimbursement of any of her estate taxes from the QTIP trust.

In the end, Probate Judge Charles Simon III ruled that Ms. Ash, along with co-trustee Dale Kris, must pay Mrs. Ash’s estate taxes from Mr. Ash’s QTIP trust. Ms. Ash’s attorney vowed to appeal the ruling, but apparently there was a change of heart.

“We want to assure that the Montcalm Community College and Greenville Area Community Foundation, as well as other deserving community nonprofit organizations, receive the full value of my mother’s and father’s bequests to them,” Ms. Ash said.

Countless local folks were relieved to hear these words. We hope the issue has truly been resolved and our deserving community nonprofit organizations can move forward.

The Ash estate tax issue was an educational experience for all of us.

Editorial opinions are the consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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