The reality of our immortality is a chilling thought to come to terms with. Planning for the future by implementing your wishes in a trust and estate plan, presents many tough questions to ask. Who will raise your children if you die? What happens to your pets? When do you want to pull the plug? Don’t let your concerns or fears become a living nightmare for your loved ones.
“For most people, estate planning is more painful than a root canal without Novocain. . . .it forces us to acknowledge that we may become demented; decide who gets what after we pass away; and make provisions for end of life care.”
To most, our Facebook and Twitter accounts are the furthest thing from our mind when it comes to getting our affairs in order after death, or perhaps it is a legitimate concern. Blog posts, pictures, and content that we share with the world through our social media accounts give people a glimpse of our personal lives. So what happens to those accounts after we die?
“Technology companies are making it possible for you to send a pre-written email, Facebook status update or Tweet after death. Some are even coming up with ways to keep your Twitter account active with regular updates that mimic your Twitter personality after you die. The founder of DeadSocial said, it’s a social media savvy way for people to say their final goodbyes.”
George Washington’s Will
Leisure Hours, the Ninth day of July, 1799
George Washington composed his own will without the consult of an attorney or a person of professional character. His distinctive style of writing both powerful and lucid, left no room for question as to how is estate was to be distributed upon his death. Washington’s will showed his strong sense of character and views about his divergent and valuable properties that he had attained over the course of his lifetime.
“The extraordinary care and precision with which he spelled out how and under what conditions his land and other possessions should be distributed among the numerous members of his extended family, among his old friends, and among various dependents, provide further insight into the workings of his mind and the impulses of his heart. The language of Washington’s will and its contents combine to make it a document of particular importance among his papers.”
The passing of high-profile celebrities thrust the issue of proper distribution of their estate. Most notably being Michael Jackson, who ranked as the top earning deceased celebrity in 2010-2011. Jackson’s estate accrued $170 million, a significant drop form the previous year with $275 million, from sales in music and his stake in Sony/ATV catalog.
“It’s clear that while the stories may all be tragically unique, the contributing factors remain relatively consistent. Collectively, these cases obviate the need for a unified approach to wealth management that balances short- and long-term lifestyle concerns against the desire to effectively transfer wealth and preserve legacies. . . .Without an estate plan, a celebrity is unable to ensure that the proper individuals are left in control of their estate and legacy.”
Interestingly enough, the public becomes even more captivated with celebrities upon their death, especially if there is any controversy with their estate. It is not uncommon for celebrities to continue to generate substantial revenue long after their death, with royalties from their body of work, but where does it all go?
The In-N-Out empire comes to a new owner and president. Thirty year old Lynsi Torres, now the youngest female billionaire in the world.The In-N-Out franchise was founded in 1984 in Baldwin Park by Torres’ grandparents Harry and Esther Snyder; which started from a single drive-through hamburger stand. Torres came into ownership after a series of deaths in the family as the sole family heir. She now controls half of the company through a trust fund since her 30th birthday and will receive full ownership on her 35th birthday.
“The company has no other owners, according to an Arizona State Corporation Commission filing. . .One private equity executive who invests in the food and restaurant industry said the operation could be valued at more than $2 billion, based on its productivity per unit, profitability and potential for expansion.”
When you have no friends or family, who do you leave your estate to? Ray Fulk, a 71-year-old eccentric, died alone last summer. Having never been married, no children, and no close relatives or friends, Fulk left the bulk of his estate to 2 1980′s actors he never met, Kevin Brophy and Peter Barton whom he considered “his friends.” Brophy and Barton will split roughly $1 million after Fulk’s 160 acres of farm land are sold. He also left $5,000 to his favorite charity the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.
Fulk’s friend and attorney, Donald Behle, explains:
“Behle had acted as Ray’s attorney in an earlier civil matter, so in December 1997, Ray approached him to draw up his will, including the bequest to Brophy and Barton. I have a copy of the will. In it, Ray refers to Brophy and Barton as ‘my friends.’. . .’I found a couple of letters he had written to them,’ says Behle. ‘They sent back responses that basically said thanks for writing and please watch me in whatever their next movie or show was.”
James Brown, the Godfather of Soul Music passed away Christmas Day 2006 due to heart failure. Brown’s multimillion dollar estate was divvied up by Attorney General McMaster disregarding Brown’s wishes he had stated in his Will:
“Attorney General Henry McMaster brokered a settlement in 2009 that split Brown’s estate, giving nearly half to a charitable trust, a quarter to his widow, Tomi Rae Hynie, and leaving the rest to be split among his adult children. But the justices ruled that the deal ignored Brown’s wishes for most of his money to go to charity. The court also ruled the Godfather of Soul was of sound mind when he made his will. . . . ‘The compromise orchestrated by the AG in this case destroys the estate plan Brown had established in favor of an arrangement overseen virtually exclusively by the AG,’ giving large sums of money to relatives even though they were given little or no control in the singer’s original will, Associate Justice John Kittredge wrote.”
The South Carolina Supreme Court overruled the settlement and reinstated Brown’s original Will. James Brown felt strongly for the cause of education and wanted the majority of his estate to be donated to educating children of misfortune.
Your hard earned points from loyalty programs with hotels, airlines, and credit cards don’t have to go to waste after you die. According to Randy Petersen, editor of InsideFlyer magazine, U.S. travelers accumulate roughly 3 trillion frequent flyer miles each year. If you don’t do anything with your points and rewards, the value then goes to waste. By adding your rewards into your will, you are ensuring that all possible assets are identified and distributed based on your wishes. However, there may be some difficulty with security (regarding your accounts) and finding the loop holes in restrictions that certain companies place on their reward programs. For example:
“The Marriott Rewards program for Marriott International Inc hotel chain, only allows spouses or domestic partners to inherit points. American Express Co’s credit card rewards program requires a call from an executor before it agrees to send a package of required forms. Hilton HHonors points earned from Hilton Worldwide’s hotel brands expire after a year of inactivity.”
Are you young and healthy, but think you do not need to have an estate plan? Here are ten things you should probably do.
This is a great article from Estate of Denial discussing why the estate tax is a dumb tax and is a fail in terms of both social and fiscal policy. According to the article, the estate tax actually reduces total federal tax revenue, fails to reduce income inequality and has little to no effect on wealth inequality.
“This study confirms that the cost of the estate tax far exceeds any benefits it produces.”
So begins “Cost and Consequences of the Federal Estate Tax” published last week by the Republican Staff of the Joint Economic Committee, whose vice chairman, Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, continues to make his mark as a leader of the pro-growth wing of the House GOP. The report’s documentation of how the death tax fails as both fiscal and social policy stands as a timely rebuttal to the politics of envy promulgated by President Barack Obama and the leadership of the Democratic Party.
My conclusion: the death tax deserves the sobriquet: the “dumb tax.”
The Jackson family is at war over Michael Jackson’s estate, rumored to be worth about $1 billion. The rift between the Jackson family and those currently in control of Michael Jackson’s estate has escalated with each side fueling a negative campaign against the other in the media. Estate of Denial reports:
Janet Jackson and two of her siblings ramped up their feud with the men who control the estate of Michael Jackson on Friday night.
A statement issued on behalf of Janet Jackson, her brother Randy and sister Rebbie accused the executors of trying to divide the family and distract from questions about the legitimacy of Michael Jackson’s will.
“The negative media campaign generated by the executors and their agents has been relentless,” wrote Blair G. Brown, a Washington, D.C., attorney for Janet Jackson.
Allegations that the siblings were holding their 82-year-old mother against her will in Arizona made international headlines last week and resulted in a new custody arrangement in which the family matriarch shares guardianship of Michael Jackson’s three children.
In the statement, Brown disputed reports that the siblings were trying to enlist their mother in a battle over the will for their own financial benefit.
Updating your estate plan is critical, especially after major life events. On Wall Street tells us the sad story of artist Thomas Kinkade, who failed to actually update his estate plan despite an apparent desire to do so. On Wall Street has the story:
Legacy expert attorneys Danielle and Andy Mayoras say the untimely death and shoddy estate planning efforts of renowned artist Thomas Kinkade serve as a prime example of why clients should update their wills on a regular – and sober – basis.
It’s estimated that one in 20 American homes have a Thomas Kinkade painting hanging on their walls. The self-proclaimed “Painter of Light” turned his gift of rendering landscapes and other works of art into a tremendous commercial endeavor.
In fact, his numerous corporate holdings reportedly topped $100 million in annual sales some years, primarily due to mass reproduction of his works.
But the “Painter of Light” was not without his demons, primarily alcoholism and a failed marriage. He died suddenly at age 54 in April, an early and untimely demise reportedly caused by “acute intoxication” from alcohol and valium.
His wife, Nanette, had filed for divorce two years before and the couple was legally separated. Kinkade died while living with his girlfriend of 18 months, Amy Pinto-Walsh.
The girlfriend and estranged wife began fighting almost immediately after Kinkade died. Pinto-Walsh was kept from the funeral and slapped with a lawsuit for breach of a confidentiality agreement. The family wanted her to remain quiet and not share any personal details with the media.
Pinto-Walsh did not go away quietly. She went to probate court to enforce two handwritten wills (called “holographic” wills) that she says Kinkade wrote for her benefit in late 2011.
These two handwritten wills are interesting, to say the least. The first one, dated Nov. 11, 2011, bequeaths to Pinto-Walsh the sum of $10 million dollars “from my corporate policy” and his house and property next door “for her security.”
The second will, dated Dec. 11, 2011, includes both of these same bequests to Pinto-Walsh, but further clarifies that the $10 million gift is to be used by Pinto-Walsh to create a museum to show the public his works.
But what is most interesting about these two purported wills is not what they say, but how they are written. They are so illegible that calling them “chicken scratch” may be deemed offensive to chickens. This from a man who left behind an estate reportedly worth more than $66 million because he was so gifted in painting popular works of art.
Today it seems like nearly everyone has some digital presence. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or Gmail, almost everyone has some digital assets. When you start thinking about estate planning, you probably are thinking about the distribution of your assets: your home, car, business and other belongings. But what about your digital assets? NBC Chicago reports:
So many of the things you plan to leave behind after death are obvious: real estate, money, jewelry. But increasingly, a number of your assets that aren’t so obvious need to be addressed in planning: your digital assets.
“Your Facebook account, Twitter, that kind of stuff isn’t something you typically go talk to your lawyer about,” said financial writer Katie Hill.
Still, it’s an idea she recommends consumers take seriously.
Increasingly, a consumer’s digital assets, from online bank accounts to frequent flier and rewards program to social media, are becoming a consideration for estate planning.
“You do want someone to handle these accounts so they’re not floating around in cyberspace for the next 20 years,” said Hill.
Just as you name an executor for tangible assets, financial advisers say you need a digital executor, too; someone who can access your accounts after death. Websites offering that type of service are popping up, though many consumers still opt for the low-tech, hard copy option.
Giving someone the ability to access your personal information can make things a lot easier for your loved ones. Imagine the headache of having to deal with every company where you had an account (Facebook, Gmail, etc.) and going through each company’s different process just to get a handle on the account. This is why I suggest storing your passwords somewhere that can be accessed after you’re gone. Read more about Including Passwords With Your Legacy.
Forbes: “When I would tell people that I was working on a book about estate planning, many of them looked at me quizzically because they weren’t sure what I meant. Others said, “Oh, that’s not something I need, because I don’t have an estate.”
Contrary to popular misconception, you don’t have to own a big house to have an estate. Your estate consists of everything you own when you die, including your home, personal property, investments, bank accounts, retirement plans and any interests in a family business or partnership. Beneficiary designation forms control who gets retirement accounts, along with life insurance proceeds. For most other assets, you need a will or living trust that says who gets your stuff.”
Question: I was recently divorced, but my estate plan names my former spouse in a few places. What should I do?
Answer: Revise your estate plan! You should always think about updating your estate plan when a major life event happens. Divorce or legal separation from your spouse is one of these events. There are probably a number of places in your current estate plan that name your former spouse. These are the areas that you should consider updating:
- Incapacity planning. Who did you name as your agent under your healthcare power of attorney or financial power of attorney? If you were to become incapacitated, your current estate plan probably says that your spouse should make all of your healthcare decisions and should have the ability to access your finances and make financial decisions. Since you probably do not want your former spouse to make these decisions for you, consider changing your healthcare agent and financial agent to someone like a trusted friend or family member.
- Inheritance planning. Your current estate plan probably states that if something were to happen to you, all of your assets should go to your former spouse. After a divorce, you probably don’t want your former spouse to inherit everything. As such, you should change the primary beneficiary of your will or trust.
- Life insurance. Your current life insurance policy might name your former spouse as the beneficiary of that policy. Talk to your life insurance company about updating the beneficiary designations on the policy. Another life insurance issue could arise if your divorce settlement requires you to maintain life insurance for your children. If so, you should consider creating an irrevocable life insurance trust which will ensure that the life insurance benefits are properly transferred after the divorce, and protect the benefits from future events and estate tax issues.
- IRA and other accounts. When you set up your IRA, you had to designate one or more persons to be the beneficiaries of that account should something happen to you. If you set up the account while you were married, you might have listed your former spouse as the beneficiary. Contact your IRA company to update the beneficiary designations on your account. Also, if you set up your bank accounts with a “pay on death” designation, be sure to update these designations as well.
The Street: “Individuals looking for a simple and effective way to reduce their future taxable estate should consider the annual gift exclusion.
What is the annual gift exclusion and how does it work?
Every U.S. citizen is allowed to give anyone $13,000 (2012 level) a year without incurring either a gift tax liability or gift tax reporting. Married couples are allowed a further benefit which allows them to split their gifts. In essence, a married couple can give any individual up to $26,000 per year. Married couples who make split gifts do have a reporting requirement. They must file IRS Form 709 on which they report their split gift.
The humble annual gift exclusion can be an effective way to transfer wealth without using any of an individual’s lifetime gift exclusion or estate exemption (both currently $5.12 million in 2012).”
Newsobserver.com: “The end is near. The end of the Bush tax cuts that is. Are you ready?
The current tax code allows an estate to pass $5 million per person, $10 million per married couple, tax free. Over that the tax rate is 35 percent. The last time the tax rate was this low was 1931, and moved to 45 percent the next year as a means of coping with the Great Depression, and was as high as 77 percent from 1942 until 1976. But on Dec. 31, 2012, the Bush tax cuts automatically revert back to 2001 levels of $1 million exemption and 55 percent for anything above that.
Yes, the government can change this law. And it may seem more likely with a Republican in office. But House Republican Scott Rigell is actually looking to increase total tax revenues from 16.9 percent to 20 percent of GDP if coupled with a spending reduction from 24 percent to 20 percent, according to Joel Klein at Time Magazine. With the current U.S. debt-to-GDP ratio at 93.2 percent, higher than it has been since World War II when an extraordinary amount of money was being spent, and also on the rise, do you think the exemption will remain so generous and the tax rates so low? Are you willing to bet the gridlock in Washington will end? Are you willing to bet your family business?“
California has finally joined the majority of states and recognized the tort of intentional interference with expected inheritance (“IIEI”). This adoption was done by the California Court of Appeals based on the fact that the IIEI claim is consistent with other California laws, the fact that of the 42 states that have considered adopting an IIEI claim, 25 states have adopted the claim, that the US Supreme Court has called IIEI as “widely recognized” tort, and other public policy considerations.
The ruling came out of the California Court of Appeals for the Fourth Appellate District, after the deceased’s longtime partner was denied any inheritance by the California probate court. Brent Beckwith was in a committed relationship for nearly 10 years with partner Marc Christian MacGinnis. MacGinnis had no living family members other than his sister, Susan Dahl. But MacGinnis was estranged from his sister.
At one point, MacGinnis showed Beckwith a will on his computer that divided his $1 million plus estate between Beckwith and Dahl. MacGinnis never signed the will. MacGinnis wanted to print and sign the will, but was never able to do so. MacGinnis later fell ill. He asked Beckwith to print the will. When Beckwith couldn’t locate the will, MacGinnis asked Beckwith to prepare a new will, based on the distribution plan MacGinnis had already discussed with Beckwith. When Beckwith called Dahl to discuss the will, Dahl claimed that she had friends who were attorneys and she would have them draft a trust for MacGinnis, which she claimed was more appropriate for her brother. She told Beckwith not to give the new will to MacGinnis for signing. A few days later, MacGinnis went in for surgery. The doctors told Dahl that MacGinnis may not recover from the surgery. However, because Beckwith “was not family”, the doctors did not tell him about the potential risks of the surgery. Dahl did not share this information with Beckwith nor did she ever give MacGinnis any trust documents to sign. MacGinnis later died without signing any estate planning documents.
Since he did not have an estate plan, Dahl was able to successfully claim that she was the sole heir to MacGinnis’ sizable estate. Beckwith disputed Dahl’s claims, but since California’s rules of intestate succession do not recognize MacGinnis’ partner of nearly 10 years, Beckwith got nothing. Beckwith later sued, claiming that Dahl had improperly interfered with his expected inheritance. The result was the court recognizing a new claim for IIEI.
In California, a plaintiff may plead an IIEI claim only if a probate remedy is not available. The California Court identified the five specific elements that a plaintiff must allege to state a claim for IIEI:
1. Expectation of inheritance. The plaintiff must plead that he or she had an expectancy of receiving an inheritance.
2. Causation. “[T]here must be proof amounting to a reasonable degree of certainty that he bequest or devise would have been in effect at the time of the death . . . if there had been no such interference.”
3. Intent. “[T]he defendant had knowledge of the plaintiff’s expectancy of inheritance and took deliberate action to interfere with it.”
4. Tortious interference. “[T]he interference was conducted by independently tortious means, i.e., the underlying conduct must be wrong for some reason other than the fact of the interference.”
5. Damage. “[T]he plaintiff must plead that he was damaged by the defendant’s interference.”
To read the entire story, visit Estate of Denial.
Before a military service member is deployed to combat, he or she must create a will that states how they want their assets distributed should they pass away. Service members have been posting on the popular website Reddit about the quirky bequests in their wills. Estate of Denial shares:
Over at Reddit, a servicemember posted about how he and a buddy each bequeathed one another $2,000 in their wills.
Sounds standard. Except, this two grand is bequeathed so that his friend — pardon the legalese — “can throw a killer party to celebrate my life.”
Yes, he got his lawyer to write in “killer party” into his will.
It gets even better. The servicemember — reddit username Citisol — “would like a cardboard cutout of me on display holding a bottle of Maker’s Mark Whisky [sic].”
Genius. Absolute genius.
Here’s the picture of the will that Citisol included.
His wife? Perfectly alright with it. “She was sitting with me as the lawyer wrote it up. She is sometimes pretty cool.”
Citisol made the post to ask for “ridiculous deployment legacies” from other serving redditors’ wills. The comments didn’t disappoint.
Should you create a will based estate plan or a trust based estate plan? It depends on your goals. While a will and a trust serve some of the same functions, some of the major differences become apparent when you examine how each is administered. A will must be entered into probate. Probate is a court proceeding, which means that documents filed during that court proceeding become public record. This means that when a person’s will is admitted to probate, it becomes a public record, just as we saw in Joe Paterno’s case. On the other hand, trusts do not need to be admitted to probate. This is because if a trust is properly funded (meaning a person’s assets are all transferred into their trust) then probate is unnecessary. One of the major purposes of probate is to effectuate the transfer of property from the deceased to his or her heirs. By using a trust, probate can be avoided since the deceased already transferred property out of his or her own name and into the name of the trust. Once a person who has a trust passes, the terms of the trust take over and the deceased’s property is transferred according to the terms of the trust.
Any estate planning lawyer worth their salt will always inform clients that a trust is the best possible option. However, if someone decides to go with a will based estate plan, here is an explanation for “Dummies” about one needs to know about probate:
Probate is a term that is used in several different ways. Probate can refer to the act of presenting a will to a court officer for filing — such as, to “probate” a will. But in a more general sense, probate refers to the method by which your estate is administered and processed through the legal system after you die.
The probate process helps you transfer your estate in an orderly and supervised manner. Your estate must be dispersed in a certain manner (your debts and taxes paid before your beneficiaries receive their inheritance, for example). Think of the probate process as the “script” that guides the orderly transfer of your estate according to the rules. (For more info, see What’s a Probate Estate All About?)
Many people think that probate applies to you only if you have a will. Wrong! Your estate will be probated whether or not you have a will.
•With a valid will: If you have a valid will, then your will determines how your estate is transferred during probate and to whom.
•Without a valid will: If you don’t have a will, or if you die partially intestate, where only part of your estate is covered by a valid will, the laws where you live specify who gets what parts of your estate.
So read on for a few important points about probate you need to know.
Email, Facebook, Twitter, and online banking have become as normal as breathing to most people. But what happens to these things when a person dies? The days of sorting through the deceased piles and piles of documents has ended. Many people today are totally reliant on their digital lives, from preparing and filing tax returns, using banking software to balance a checkbook, to getting all of their bills delivered online or via email. With things like encryption and passwords, how does someone access all of a person’s digital data after they die? Wealth Strategies Journal reports:
Increasingly, our lives are conducted online. For many of us, the lion’s share of our correspondence takes place by email. Our bank, brokerage, credit card, and utilities statements are delivered by email. Recurring expenses are paid automatically from our accounts without any action on our parts; other bills are paid with a few clicks and keystrokes. We rarely write checks. Our photos are collected in virtual albums on our smartphones and on photo sharing websites, rather than in the plastic sleeves of tangible albums on our bookshelves. Our address books are maintained on our smartphones. We file our taxes electronically; we may not even keep hard copies of our returns.
The more tech-savvy among us may even have e-commerce businesses, own the rights to valuable domain names, and write potentially lucrative blogs.
Whether an individual’s online activities have independent financial value or are merely the means of accessing hard assets of financial value, this phenomenon has far-reaching implications for estate planning and administration.
When someone dies, an administrative process starts into motion. Information must be gathered: Was there a will? Were there any outstanding debts? What kind of assets did the decedent own, where are they, and what are they worth? Are there ongoing costs associated with maintaining the assets? Where can the beneficiaries be reached? Will there be any tax due?
The traditional approach for handling an estate administration involved sorting through paper files in the decedent’s home and office and waiting for the postman to bring the mail. The bank and brokerage statements would arrive in due course, and we would know what the assets are. The bills would arrive in due course, and we would know what the debts and carrying costs are. Eventually, the missing pieces were filled in and the picture became clear.
In today’s world, this traditional approach is simply no longer adequate.
Out of all the people one could steal money from, it takes a special kind of person to steal money from a disabled veteran. But that is exactly what is happening, and in some cases, with the implied consent of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The VA has a fiduciary program, in which the VA appoints a family member or even a stranger to manage the money for veterans that the VA considers to be disabled. Hundreds of fiduciaries have been removed for misusing the veterans funds, yet the theft and fraud continue. One scam, lasting over 10 years, misappropriated about $2 million. Since 1998, thieves have stolen more than $14.7 million from disabled veterans. But why does the VA allow this to continue? Estate of Denial reports:
They survived the Nazis, the Viet Cong and the Taliban. But hundreds of mentally disabled veterans suffered new wounds when the country they served put their checkbooks in the hands of scoundrels.
Gambling addicts, psychiatric cases and convicted criminals are among the thieves who have been handed control of disabled veterans’ finances by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a Houston Chronicle/Hearst Newspapers investigation has found.
For decades, theft and fraud have plagued the fiduciary program, in which the VA appoints a family member or a stranger to manage money for veterans the government considers incapacitated. The magnitude and pace of those thefts has increased, despite VA promises of reform. Three of the largest scams – ranging from about $900,000 to $2 million – each persisted 10 years or more before being discovered.
In the past six years, the VA has removed 467 fiduciaries for misuse of funds, but only a fraction have faced criminal charges, according to the VA’s Office of the Inspector General.
The government has never adequately tracked fiduciaries’ thefts from disabled veterans. The inspector general’s office says it conducted 315 fiduciary fraud investigations from October 1998 to March 2010, resulting in 132 arrests for thefts amounting to $7.4 million. But a Chronicle analysis of court records and documents obtained though the Freedom of Information Act show the thieves took more $14.7 million since 1998 – nearly twice the amounts reported to Congress.
For more than 26 years, a probate battle has raged over the estate of wealthy Connecticut businessman Francis “Hi Ho” D’Addario. Before D’Addario died in 1986, he prepared a will that distributed his estate, valued as high as $162 million, to his wife and five children. Between lawsuits and probate laws that fail to protect against abuse, 26 years later the D’Addario will is still pending before a probate court. Even worse, when the case was unsealed last fall, it was found to be insolvent. But where did $162 million go? Estate of Denial ponders this question:
On a rainy and foggy March night in 1986, a small plane crashed outside of Chicago, killing F. Francis “Hi Ho” D’Addario, one of the most prolific and colorful industrialists of the 20th century in Connecticut.
Successful and wealthy, D’Addario was a 63-year-old Bridgeport businessman who had a will that distributed his substantial estate – valued at as much as $162 million — among his wife and five children.
It was a complicated matter. D’Addario Industries was diverse, from construction and paving to real estate, television and gambling to the Brakettes, a professional women’s softball team. That was nothing, however, compared to the mess that awaited in Connecticut’s probate courts.
JD Supra reported on a big win for same sex couples as it relates to the estate tax. A recent New York judge held that same sex couples who reside in states that recognize same sex marriage may take advantage of the estate tax marital deduction. According to JD Supra:
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones granted a summary judgement in an estate tax case that, according to law firm Duane Morris “created a precedent that is likely to positively affect same-sex married couples for years to come.”
The case involved a same-sex couple (Thea Spyer and Edith Windsor) who were legally married in Canada and recognized in New York because “New York affords legal recognition to civil marriages that are lawful in the jurisdiction where they are performed.”
After Joe Paterno’s death, his estate was admitted to probate. Typically, documents filed in a court proceeding are public record. If a Will was filed as part of a probate case, that too would normally be public record. However, Joe Paterno’s family requested that his Will was sealed, which the court later did. If someone had a Will but not a Trust, I can understand why they might want to do this. Joe Paterno had a sizable estate and perhaps the family didn’t want the world to know about his plans for distribution. Recently, Paterno’s Will was unsealed. Turns out, Joe had already planned for this eventuality by creating a Trust. Paterno’s Will was a typical “pour over” Will, meaning that any asset that he owned that was not already in his Trust was “poured” into his Trust. A pour over Will typically doesn’t list what these assets are, but instead functi0ns more as an all encompassing provision by transferring assets that didn’t quite make it to the Trust. The meat of Paterno’s estate plan and the part everyone wants to see is the Trust. Unlike Wills, Trusts are private and need not become a public record after a person’s death.
For more information about trusts, read Richard Keyt’s Article Understanding the Significance of Trusts.
Britney Spears is ready to terminate her conservatorship. She has been under the conservatorship of her father since shortly after her well publicized mental breakdown. Britney appears to have flourished under the conservatorship, going back on tour, getting engaged, and recently becoming a judge on a hit television show. The conservatorship has also allowed team Britney to bar adverse parties from deposing her in a number of various lawsuits. However, as Estate of Denial reports, not everyone agrees that the conservatorship should end:
Britney Spears is ready to ”regain control of her life”.
The ‘X Factor’ judge is reportedly ready for her father Jamie Spears’ conservatorship over her – meaning he is in charge of her personal and professional affairs – to come to an end after just over four years as she is now in a much better place in her life than she was when the ruling was initially put in place.
A source said: ”Britney very much wants the conservatorship to end, she doesn’t understand why it has gone on this long.
”Britney is now a judge on a national hit television show, which will be live when it airs this fall. Britney feels she is ready to regain control of her life now.
”Britney’s dad, Jamie, has conservatorship of her personally and professionally, and this has been going on now for almost four-and-half years.”
However, the ‘Toxic’ hitmaker’s doctors are said to not support her bid to have the conservatorship come to an end.
It’s no secret that when a wealthy celebrity dies, former lovers, “relatives” and other con men come out of the wood work to try to claim a part of the estate. However, the recent suit the estate of Michael Jackson got hit with might just take the cake. Estate of Denial reports:
Michael Jackson owes a convicted criminal $1 BILLION for exploiting personal details about her life in his music — this according to a bizarre and, dare we say, bogus lawsuit.
Kimberly Griggs filed the case in San Diego — claiming she and Jackson had an intimate relationship beginning in 1979, which she says he chronicled in his albums “Off the Wall,” “Thriller,” “Bad,” “Dangerous,” and his greatest hits album … “Number Ones.”
Griggs — who spent years in prison for burglary and robbery — claims she was pissed that Michael exposed her personal secrets in his tunes, so to make things nice he promised to give her the rights to the songs.
She says she was stunned when MJ died and she was completely left out of his estate.
According to the handwritten lawsuit, Griggs wants $1 billion in damages.
Calls to MJ’s Estate weren’t returned, but we’re guessing their response begins with the letters b and s.
CNBC: “If you’re a wealthy American who’s planning to hire an estate or trust attorney later this year, here’s a thought: Good luck. You’re going to need it.
That’s because the transit of Venus of estate planning is passing through, and by the New Year it is likely to be gone.
It’s the lifetime gift-tax exemption of $5.12 million, paired with a similar estate-tax exemption. And it means that through the rest of this year, parents can pass along assets valued up to that amount to their heirs – maybe a house, maybe a stock portfolio, maybe part of the family business – without paying a single penny to Uncle Sam.”
Examiner.com: “A traditional estate planning directive like a simple will or a trust with outright distributions doesn’t work well for a person with special needs that is now, or may be in the future, receiving government benefits. In fact, it may cause that individual to be ineligible for benefits, and that could be disastrous.
Planning for a person with special needs requires knowledge of the various benefit programs, their rules and restrictions and the planning directives that work best to preserve benefits. The outright receipt of a gift or inheritance, either intentionally or accidentally, can jeopardize benefits. Well meaning family members and some well meaning professionals can (and unfortunately have) caused a friend or family member with special needs to lose their benefits.”