There has been a growing trend among individuals and even estate planners to avoid having to go to the probate court. Even for those people who need wills, a large percentage of their assets will be transferred pursuant to beneficiary designations in account agreements at banks and credit unions, in IRA’s and other qualified retirement plans, and through life insurance policies. Add a trust, and an even wider range of assets can be transferred outside the probate courts. What this non-probate disposition of assets means, of course, is that financial institutions are called upon to help a customer determine what type of account to use and, after death of the customer, review legal documents and carry out the transfer instructions.

In addition, more people are using simplified probate tools to avoid a formal probate. In Texas, small estates affidavit can be used when a person dies without a will and has $75,000 or less in personal assets, not including the homestead. If there is a will and there are no unpaid debts or a need for administration, the will can be admitted to probate under a unique Texas proceeding known as a “muniment of title.” Under these procedures, no representative of the estate is appointed. Banks may be presented with a court certified copy of an affidavit for small estates or an order admitting a will to probate as a muniment of title. The financial institution may be called upon to review the documents and pay the funds in an account. These procedures are currently authorized by statute, but may become more widely used. A task force formed by the Supreme Court of Texas is considering promulgating forms for use by non-lawyers to make it easier for them to take advantage of these simplified procedures. Continue Reading Avoid Probate Court: Head to Your Bank Instead

We work with many regional financial institution clients on a daily basis, and they regularly send us out-of-state garnishments, liens, levies, and other legal processes with one question—“Do I have to answer this?” The first question we ask is whether the foreign state can exercise jurisdiction over the regional financial institution—in other words, whether the financial institution is doing business in that state. Our clients are often quick to respond that they don’t have any branches or employees in other states, and so do not believe that they are doing business in those states.

But for the most part, the days of only “brick and mortar” banking are long gone. With the competition of internet banks and increase of technology, financial institutions are trying to become more appealing and accessible to their customers. To do that, they have increased their presence on the Internet. One result of this increased presence has been increased opportunity to market other products (such as CDs, car loans, or mortgage loans) outside of their home state.  Continue Reading Online Banking: Are Financial Institutions Subjecting Themselves to Other Jurisdictions Without Knowing?

July 13, 2018, marks the comment deadline for the federal bank agencies’ proposed capital rules amendments to grant all banks the option to elect a three-year phase-in of the “day 1” regulatory capital effects from adopting the new and burdensome FASB Current Expected Credit Losses (CECL) methodology under GAAP (scheduled to become effective for the first group of banking organizations in their first fiscal year beginning after December 15, 2019). Critically, the election to use the three-year phase-in approach would be required to be made by the end of the first regulatory reporting period in which the banking organization applies CECL, otherwise it is forfeited. The proposed three-year phase in period affords community banks with much-needed time to plan and test for CECL implementation thereby easing some of the CECL anxiety community bankers are experiencing.

Continue Reading Federal Bank Agencies Set to Grant Community Banks Temporary Reprieve from FASB’s Burdensome Credit Losses Rule

Coauthored by Dykema Summer Associate Shaun Sullivan-Towler.

For financial institutions interested in banking state-legal marijuana businesses, 2018 has been a rollercoaster. In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the Obama-era policy of lenient federal enforcement, creating new confusion for banks and credit unions about the future of marijuana-related banking. Many feared that the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) would withdraw or amend its guidance as well, thereby eliminating the only federal guidance directed to financial institutions on banking marijuana businesses. But FinCEN has since been clear that its guidance remains in place and announced that, as of March 31, 2018, a total of 411 banks and credit unions now provide services to marijuana-related businesses, up from 365 a year ago. Continue Reading The STATES Act, Rooted in Federalism, Would Address Systemic Risk in Cannabis-Related Banking

2018 has a tough act to follow, after a 2017 full of momentous developments—starting with a new Administration and wrapping up with a showdown over the right to serve as Acting Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) (a fight that continues as of this writing, as discussed below).

But 2018 is unlikely to be a quiet year. In addition to developments in the CFPB leadership battle and other litigation, the year is expected to bring developments such as effective and compliance dates for major regulations on data protection, Bank Secrecy Act/anti-money-laundering (BSA/AML), mortgage servicing, and other topics, and could bring changes in supervisory focus at multiple federal agencies.  Continue Reading Fasten Your Seatbelts: Are You Ready for Another Eventful Year?

The state-legal marijuana sector operates in a largely cash-based economy—only about 400 banks and credit unions in the U.S. actively provide financial services to this sector—because marijuana remains illegal under federal law, despite the increasing number of states acting to legalize medical and/or recreational use. There is no carveout for state-legal activity and no safe harbor for financial institutions to serve customers engaged in such activity.

Until last week, though, banks and credit unions wanting to work with this sector could rely to some degree on guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and from the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Now, with the DOJ guidance withdrawn and the fate of the FinCEN guidance in question, the future of marijuana banking faces even more uncertainty. Continue Reading The Challenges of Marijuana Banking Just Got Even More Challenging

Last week, the Federal Reserve issued proposed guidance that could dial back some regulatory expectations for directors of financial institutions. The proposed guidance, applicable to Fed-supervised entities like bank holding companies and state member banks, would clarify the role of boards of directors, and place more responsibilities back onto management instead. This breaks with a trend over the past several years in which regulators have urged more and more active and seemingly granular involvement from bank boards. Continue Reading Outside Bank Directors Take Note: Could Regulators’ Expectations Be Changing (Again)?

Every other year, the Texas Legislature convenes for roughly six months in Austin. Given the tight timeframe and biennial nature, sessions of the Texas Legislature tend to be “fast and furious” (and also full of drama). There were a total of 6,631 bills filed in the 2017 Texas Legislative Session. The Texas House filed 4,333 bills, of which 700 passed. The Texas Senate filed 2,298, of which 511 passed. Texas Governor Abbott vetoed 50 bills prior to the June 18, 2017, veto deadline. Below are summaries and effective dates of the major new laws that affect financial institutions operating in Texas. Continue Reading 2017 Texas Legislative Recap of New Laws Affecting Financial Institutions Operating in Texas

On June 15, 2017, the Federal Reserve Board (FRB) published in the Federal Register final amendments to Regulation CC (Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks). The amendments contain a number of changes that will affect financial institutions, such as modifications to check return requirements, additional warranties, and new indemnities, including a new indemnity for remote deposit capture (RDC). (Spoiler Alert: The indemnity for RDC has significant implications for financial institutions that offer RDC services.) The rule will become effective July 1, 2018.

Regulation CC implements the Expedited Funds Availability Act (EFAA) and the Check Clearing for the 21st Century Act (Check 21 Act). The FRB previously published a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend Regulation CC in February 2014. Continue Reading Amendments to Regulation CC Affect Liability Considerations for Financial Institutions

The long-awaited  Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in the case of Fourth Corner Credit Union v. Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City was issued this week. In short: the would-be credit union, formed to serve participants in the state-legal marijuana sector, lives to fight another day—but minus its original purpose for existing.

Background

Fourth Corner Credit Union was originally formed to solve an acute problem for marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) and individuals associated with MRBs: the inability to obtain mainstream banking services. Without access to bank or credit union accounts, MRBs remain chiefly cash-based businesses, left to their own devices to figure out how to store money and move it around, including how to pay employees and vendors, and to keep cash safe from theft.  Continue Reading Fourth Corner Credit Union Obtains Pyrrhic Victory for Marijuana Banking