Estate Planning Blog

A dying mother wrote her children letters, leaving a gift of love for years

The Washington Post:  “My friend Jacqueline Zinn was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain cancer, in 2013; she died 18 months later, at age 56, leaving behind a husband and four kids. Jacquie was a triathlete who knew a thing or two about endurance, and she managed her treatment — surgery, radiation and chemotherapy — with the same skill and organization she had brought to her work as a project manager for a drug company. Once she realized that she had only weeks to live, Jacquie began planning for the next chapter: her death and its aftermath.

By |2018-09-12T14:41:29+00:00September 13th, 2018|

What happens if you die without a will? You might leave a hot mess behind.

The Washington Post: Don’t have a will? Then let me ask you this: Do you love your family? Because, if you love and care about them and want to minimize the drama that you may leave after you die, you would get a will. And I don’t mean something done on the computer that you sign and stuff in a folder. Actually, you have a will, just not one that you created. If you die “intestate,” meaning without having a legal will, state laws dictate how your assets will be distributed. Here’s a link on Nolo.com where you can see, according to your state’s law, who is entitled to your assets if you die without creating a will.”

By |2018-09-12T14:33:52+00:00September 12th, 2018|

Article on Social Media Abuse in Long-Term Care Facilities: Why the Law is Failing to Protect Elderly Residents and How States Should Address It

Wills Trusts & Estate Prof Blog:  “In March 2016, state health officials in Iowa received a report that a certified nursing assistant for a long-term care facility shared an indecent photo of an elderly resident on Snapchat–with six of the nursing assistant’s colleagues. The photo displayed the resident with his pants around his ankles, and his legs and hands covered in feces. Yet, the most disturbing part of the official’s investigation was that the nursing assistant’s actions were not against the law. Even though the elderly resident had dementia, and the humiliating photo was shared with a larger audience on social media, the state could not punish the nursing assistant criminally. The Iowa law intended to protect elderly adults from abuse in long-term care facilities had not been updated since 2008–before social media use exploded and mobile applications became available.

By |2018-09-04T12:48:44+00:00September 7th, 2018|

Why it’s smart to plan your own funeral—and do it now

Market Watch:  “Although I didn’t know it at the time, a week after my father received a terminal cancer diagnosis, he asked my cousin to take him to a local mortuary where he made decisions about his burial and paid for his funeral. Following his death five months later, as a grieving only child, I was thankful my father had the foresight to plan ahead, as he had always done for other life events. His choice to preplan was a gift that prevented me from making emotional and costly decisions based in grief. Death is a subject none of us want to confront. Talking about death causes us to face mortality and run head-on into the fact that we will not always be here. Yet death is inevitable and planning your funeral is a lot like planning for retirement. It requires honest evaluation and sometimes hard decisions, but it’s something that needs to be done. Here are five reasons to overcome hesitancy and consider planning your funeral now.”

By |2018-09-04T12:44:33+00:00September 6th, 2018|

Navigating Special Needs Trusts for Children with Disabilities

SmithAdmundsen:  “Estate planning for parents of children with special needs can be overwhelming.  Not only do parents need to consider how to provide for their child after they are gone, but they must also consider issues relating to how an inheritance will impact federal and state aid eligibility. There are three different types of special needs trusts that allow funds to be held for a disabled individual, while allowing them to qualify for state and federal aid.”

By |2018-09-04T12:19:06+00:00September 5th, 2018|

Aretha’s Lack of a Will Could Make Things Rocky for Heirs

Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog: Estate law experts expressed surprise but not shock that a wealthy person like Aretha Franklin would put off making a will until it was too late. Laura Zwicker, an attorney who specializes in estate planning but is not affiliated with the Franklin estate, says she sees it happen far too often. “People don’t like to face their own mortality.

By |2018-09-04T12:15:30+00:00September 4th, 2018|

“Que Je T’Aime”: L’affaire d’heritage de Johnny Hallyday

The National Law Review:  “As a battle rages on in Nanterre, west of Paris, over the estate of Johnny Hallyday, who is best known as the “French Elvis”, and spills out across the pages of the tabloid press in France, we offer a view from Hallyday’s adopted home, Los Angeles, California. It is, after all, the central question of this affair whether a will and trust executed in California under California law, which was intended to dispose of assets that include Hallyday’s properties in Santa Monica and Los Angeles, will be respected or tossed aside as a violation of French forced-heirship laws. The saga of the Hallyday case is a cautionary tale for French nationals who reside outside of France or who have property or assets outside of France, or for foreigners who may be considered domiciliaries of France (or other nations with inheritance laws that differ from France), as well as for members of their families whose inheritance may be caught in between.”

By |2018-08-27T10:39:31+00:00August 31st, 2018|

Aretha Franklin Died Without a Will

WealthManagement.com:  “Deeply private in life, Aretha Franklin’s estate will be laid bare for all to see, as according to court documents, she died without having a will or trust in place. Documents filed by her four sons in Oakland County Probate Court on Tuesday acknowledged the absence of a will and named themselves as parties interested in her estate. The relevant clause reads: “The decedent died intestate and after exercising reasonable diligence, I am unaware of any unrevoked testamentary instrument relating to property located in this state….” Additionally, Franklin’s niece, Sabrina Owens, asked to be appointed as the estate’s personal representative. There’s no indication that any of the parties are in conflict and, at least for the moment, the family seems to be on the same page, which is vital when potentially large estates (Franklin’s exact net worth is unknown, but it’s estimated at roughly $80 million and includes the rights to a number of her hit songs) pass through intestacy.

By |2018-08-27T10:32:07+00:00August 30th, 2018|

WealthManagement.com:  “The current swelling of demand for investment art has caused a sharp increase in legal proceedings over questions of authenticity and provenance. The rise of social media has had a disruptive effect on art marketing. The internet has emerged as a marketplace in which artists can display their work, dealers can market them and buyers can discover them. This has increased the exposure of taxable estates and heirs to sophisticated counterfeiters. This problem has harshly exposed the difficulties inherent in conducting suitable due diligence in such an opaque and unregulated market. Luckily,  there are new evolving technologies of which professionals should be aware, as well as the new standards of practice used to employ them.”

By |2018-08-27T10:27:26+00:00August 29th, 2018|

Harper Lee Estate Sues Broadway Adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird

At Your Bequest:  “One of this year’s most anticipated Broadway productions was at risk of being shuttered before it ever opened because of a fierce dispute between producers and the estate of the book’s author on which the play is based. A representative of the estate of Harper Lee, the reclusive author of To Kill a Mockingbird, sued producer Scott Rudin and his production company, Rudinplay Inc., alleging that the stage adaptation authored by Aaron Sorkin violated the licensing agreement Lee signed prior to her death in February 2016.

By |2018-08-27T10:20:15+00:00August 28th, 2018|

Sen. John McCain to lie in state. Here’s What That Means

CNN:  “Sen. John McCain, whose more than three-decade career in the Senate irreversibly impacted the tenor of Washington, will lie in state in the US Capitol this week, an honor given to few statesmen. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime ally of McCain, said that the decision came “in coordination with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.”

By |2018-08-27T10:13:39+00:00August 27th, 2018|

Aretha Franklin had NO will: Singer did not outline plans for her $80million estate before her tragic death

Daily Mail:  “Aretha Franklin passed away at her home in Detroit after a long battle with pancreatic cancer last Thursday. And while the Queen Of Soul had been struggling with health for some time, the iconic star did not leave behind a will, according to reports from TMZ. The Respect singer’s estate is estimated to be worth around an $80million, according to People.

By |2018-08-22T10:24:09+00:00August 22nd, 2018|

Are You Ready for Longevity? 4 Steps to Take Now

Kiplinger:  “Did you know that a non-smoking 65-year-old woman today has a 50% chance of living until 88? A non-smoking 65-year-old man has a 50% chance of living until 85? That’s how life expectancy works – the longer you live, the more likely you will live longer. Given that you could be well on your way to becoming a nonagenarian, here are four smart moves to help keep you and your family protected as you age.

By |2018-08-21T16:15:24+00:00August 21st, 2018|

Drinking Too Much—or Not at All—May Be Linked to Dementia

Psychology Today: Both drinking excessively in midlife and abstaining from alcohol entirely were associated with an increased risk of later dementia in a long-term study of more than 9,000 adults. The study is an important step for better understanding risk factors for dementia, experts say, but they caution that it may be too early to make sweeping statements about alcohol’s effect on the agingbrain.”

By |2018-08-13T11:21:32+00:00August 17th, 2018|

Man accused of killing family wants his trust fund

The Washington Post:  “A Vermont man accused by relatives of killing his millionaire grandfather and his mother to collect inheritance money asked a Connecticut probate judge Tuesday to allow him immediate access to $150,000 in a family trust so he can pay for legal expenses. Nathan Carman also requested that his aunt, Valerie Santilli, be removed as trustee of the Nathan Carman Family Trust, a fund that was set up for him by his grandfather in 2011 and is worth about $270,000 today, according to court documents. Judge Owen Eagan set a full hearing date of Sept. 6 and gave Carman, who is representing himself, and Santilli’s lawyers time to question witnesses and exchange documents.”

By |2018-08-13T11:18:28+00:00August 16th, 2018|

You May Have Signed a Living Will, but Scary Mistakes can Happen at the ER

The Washington Post: Don’t resuscitate this patient; he has a living will,” the nurse told the doctor, Monica Williams-Murphy, handing her a document. Williams-Murphy looked at the sheet bearing the signature of the unconscious 78-year-old man, who had been rushed from a nursing home to the emergency room. “Do everything possible,” it read, with a check approving cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The nurse’s mistake was based on a misguided belief that living wills automatically include “do not resuscitate” (DNR) orders. Working quickly, Williams-Murphy revived the patient, who had a urinary tract infection and recovered after a few days in the hospital. Unfortunately, misunderstandings involving documents meant to guide end-of-life decision-making are “surprisingly common,” said Williams-Murphy, medical director of advance-care planning and end-of-life education for Huntsville Hospital Health System in Alabama.”

By |2018-08-13T11:15:24+00:00August 15th, 2018|

Gray Divorce Boom: A Retirement Train Wreck

Financial Advisor:  “It’s happening more and more among baby boomer couples. While divorce rates overall have leveled off, and have even begun to decline among some demographics, they’ve risen among Americans over 50 years of age, with approximately 25% of the divorces today occurring among couples who are 50 and older. According to a 2015 New York Times story, the chances of an adult over 50 divorcing doubled between 1990 and 2014, and the jump was even higher for those over 65. When couples divorce in their 50s, 60s and 70s, there is less time to recover from the experience—not only emotionally, but financially. The marriage may be decades old, or it may be a second or even third marriage of shorter length.”

By |2018-08-13T10:58:55+00:00August 14th, 2018|

Want to ‘age in place’? Make Sure Your Home has These 6 Things.

The Washington Post:  Planning to stay in your home well into your golden years? Doing some renovations before you retire can help make your house more accessible and safe for your life ahead. Nearly 90 percent of people over age 65 want to stay in their homes for as long as possible, according to research by the National Conference of State Legislatures with AARP Public Policy Institute. However, many people make the mistake of waiting too long to make renovations that facilitate aging, says Marianne Cusato, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Notre Dame’s School of Architecture. “You don’t wait until you have mobility issues to make changes to your house,” she says.

By |2018-08-13T10:31:59+00:00August 13th, 2018|

Vinnie Paul Leaves Most Of His Estate To His Best Friend And His Longtime Girlfriend

Blabbermouth.net:  “According to TMZ, Vinnie Paul Abbott left the bulk of his estate to to his best friend and longtime girlfriend. TMZ obtained the document which outlines exactly how his estate should be divided following his sudden death last month, and Vinnie’s friend Charles Jones will get 38% while the drummer’s girlfriend, Chelsey Yeager, will walk away with 37%. The rest is split between Vinnie’s tour manager (10%), drum tech (5%), producer (5%) and friend (5%). In addition, Vinnie is giving his interest in his brother and PANTERA co-founder “Dimebag” Darrell Abbott’s estate to Dimebag’s longtime girlfriend, Rita Haney. The PANTERA and HELLYEAH drummer was buried on June 30 next to his brother and their mother, Carolyn, at Moore Memorial Gardens cemetery in Arlington, Texas.”

By |2018-08-06T16:32:09+00:00August 10th, 2018|

Family Affair: Potential Problems with Family-Owned Businesses

Ward and Smith:  “Some of the most heartbreaking situations we see in our closely-held business and estate practices are families torn apart over differences in dealing with family-owned businesses. When there are problems with family-owned businesses, people tend to think with their hearts, rather than their brains, and often take unreasonable positions that are counterproductive to reaching a satisfactory resolution.  Often, the personal relationships among the family members continue to suffer until the business issues have been resolved, and even for a long time afterwards.”

By |2018-08-06T16:26:39+00:00August 9th, 2018|

‘You’re getting nothing’: Steve Jobs’ daughter pens sad memoir about their often brutal relationship

SFGate:  “Lisa Brennan-Jobs, daughter of Apple CEO Steve Jobs, has published an excerpt from her upcoming memoir “Small Fry” — and it contains heartbreaking details about her difficult relationship with her father. This is the first time Brennan-Jobs has written in depth about her father, who initially denied paternity and refused to pay child support payments to her mother Chrisann Brennan. Jobs died in 2011 aged 56 after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.”

 

By |2018-08-06T15:41:48+00:00August 8th, 2018|

Prince’s Estate Files Lawsuit Over Cybersquatting of Prince.com

ABA Journal:  “The estate of the late recording artist and actor Prince is suing an Englewood, New Jersey-based domain broker for cybersquatting the prince.com website. Filed last Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, the suit alleges that Domain Capital is infringing on the estate’s “PRINCE” trademark by owning the domain.”

By |2018-08-06T14:55:20+00:00August 7th, 2018|

Your Money: How to deal With the Paperwork Scramble After a Spouse Dies

Reuters:  “When you are grieving a departed spouse, the last thing you want to think about is changing the title to your car. Same goes for your house, your bank accounts, the retirement account you are inheriting and anything else of value that now belongs solely to you. Married couples have a certain ease when it comes to inheritance rules, often leaving everything to each other in a mostly unfettered manner. Many people have what estate lawyers call “sweetheart” or “I love you” wills, which means that spouses leave all of their worldly possessions to each other. That is all good when one’s spouse passes away. The survivor, however, is left with a mess of details to sort through, because there is now only one name on all of those joint accounts, and that can cause problems for heirs down the road.

By |2018-08-06T14:24:36+00:00August 6th, 2018|

Having a Baby Changes Everything: Guardianship Considerations for Parents Creating Wills

SmithAmundsen:  “Once couples have children, they are eager to get a plan in place for who will take guardianship of their children. Having children and not having a will or a selected guardian means parents are left to worry about what would happen in the event of their untimely death. For example, if both parents die, leaving no will, and minor children, any money the parents had will pass to the children. For children under the age of 18, the court would then need to supervise any money the children inherit in a conservatorship. “

By |2018-07-30T14:34:37+00:00August 3rd, 2018|

Son claims his wealthy, reclusive and ill elderly father was pressured into leaving millions to a boarding school prior to freezing to death in his $10M New York City townhouse

Daily Mail:  “A court battle is underway over a wealthy and reclusive man’s estate after it was revealed that he left the bulk of his millions to the boarding school he went to as a teen. Peter Knoll, 75, was found dead in his multimillion-dollar Upper East Side, New York City townhouse on January 8, after having died several days prior. A medical examiner declared that he had frozen to death and it was later revealed that he had been living without gas hooked up in his home since 2014. According to the executor of his estate, Peter’s 2017 will declared that each of his three children would receive just $50,000, while his grandchildren were allotted $100,000. Select friends and acquaintances were to receive anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000. “

By |2018-07-30T14:09:16+00:00August 2nd, 2018|

Five Estate Planning Tips that Remain Relevant Regardless of Shifting Political Winds

Wealth Management.com:  “There are important estate planning techniques that aren’t directly affected by legislation and changes in tax law, but that can still make a big impact on wealth preservation. From regularly updating a will to consistently moving assets off a balance sheet, here are five estate planning items that should be added to your client’s to-do list. Schedule Routine (Estate Planning) Checkups Make sure clients regularly update their health care documents and wills. Ask clients to consider whether the individuals named in their documents are still appropriate.”

By |2018-07-30T13:04:16+00:00August 1st, 2018|

Millennials Marry When Both Partners Are Financially Secure

Financial Advisor:  “Although millennials are marrying at lower rates than young people have in the past, they are still taking economic factors into account when choosing mates, according to a U.S. Census Bureau paper. The report also suggests that with today’s hardships on millennials, a woman’s earning power is as much of an attractive feature as a man’s when young people decide to get married. “Although most people claim to marry for love and not economic reasons, research nonetheless shows that economic security is considered a ‘prerequisite’ for marriage in modern times,” said Dr. Benjamin Gurrentz, writing for the bureau’s Social, Economic And Housing Statistics Division.”

By |2018-07-30T12:58:05+00:00July 31st, 2018|

Glen Campbell’s Children Have Right to Contest Wills That Cut Them Off Inheritance

Tennessean:  “A Nashville judge has ruled that three children of the late Glen Campbell have a right to contest the validity of two wills that cut them off from any inheritance from the late singer. In a three-page ruling issued this week, Davidson Probate Judge David Randy Kennedy concluded that the three children have standing to contest wills dated Sept. 1, 2006 and Jan. 7, 2001. Travis, Kelli and Wesley Campbell had petitioned the court to certify that a will contest existed. The three were left out of both wills.”

By |2018-07-30T11:38:03+00:00July 30th, 2018|

Executors Can Count On Long, Arduous Estate Settlements

Financial Advisor:  “If your client is the executor of a family estate, you can warn him or her it will take an average of 800 hours—that’s 20 full workweeks—to settle most estates. That is, if it doesn’t get bogged down in a battle over an amethyst ring or Green Bay Packers tickets, said EstateExec, a company based in the San Francisco area that creates software for estate executors. It takes an average of 16 months to settle an estate, no matter the size, according to an EstateExec survey of 1,200 people involved in estate settlements. For 80 percent of estates, it takes 800 hours of work by the executor to settle, the survey said, and nearly half, 44 percent, of those surveyed were part of, or were at least aware of, family conflicts that erupted in the settlement process.”

By |2018-07-16T13:35:24+00:00July 20th, 2018|

Aligning Client Lifestyle, Dreams And Legacy Goals With Wealth Objectives

Private Wealth:  “Wealth management firms typically emphasize applying a personal touch in how they serve clients, driven by a sincere concern for their well-being, and a desire to build long-term relationships. And to a significant extent, the industry has delivered solutions that work for both clients in the mass market, generally defined as individuals and households with below $1 million in net worth, and to the upper echelons of the high net worth, broadly defined as those who have more than $20 million in net worth. The former is usually supported by a spectrum of small, independent financial advisor businesses, while the latter continues to be dominated by an assortment of white shoe family offices and Wall Street institutions. But this also means there is an “overlooked millionaire” segment of the wealth management market, comprised of individuals and families with between $2 million to $20 million in net worth, who have more complex needs than the mass market, but simply aren’t worth the time and attention of the top players in the industry.

By |2018-07-16T12:49:01+00:00July 19th, 2018|