Estate Planning Blog

Who needs an estate plan? Quick answer: Everyone

AP&S:  “Despite what you might think, estate planning isn’t limited to only the rich and famous. In fact, your family is likely to benefit from a comprehensive plan that divides your wealth, protects your well-being and provides a compass for your family’s future. Previously, avoiding or minimizing federal estate tax liability was a primary motivation for creating an estate plan. This isn’t as critical for most people now that the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) has doubled the federal gift and estate tax exemption from $5 million to $10 million. (The inflation-adjusted amount for 2018 is $11.18 million.) Nevertheless, reducing exposure to federal estate tax is still significant for affluent individuals, while a wider segment of the population must consider the impact of state estate taxes.”

By |2018-10-15T15:41:43+00:00October 19th, 2018|

Six important tips for estate planning success

Moneyweb:  “The increased Value-Added Tax (VAT) rate – announced in the 2018 National Budget – dominated headlines for weeks thereafter, but this is not the only tax change affecting consumers and investors. Many tax changes also affect estate planning and the cost of estate administration. I asked Brenthurst’s Fiduciary Services Expert, Rozanne Heystek-Potgieter, for her top tips to navigate this. We compiled a list of six important issues to consider when navigating the complex field of deceased estate administration. More importantly, we have included tips on how to prepare for the inevitable and re-evaluate your existing will, the liquidity of your estate and estate planning goals in general.”

By |2018-10-15T14:46:06+00:00October 18th, 2018|

Do Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank Have A Prenup? The Answer Is Pretty Surprising

Elite Daily:  “The upcoming royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and long-time boyfriend Jack Brooksbank has the whole world talking, and it’s for good reason. Princess Eugenie and Brooksbank are fairly low key and lead relatively normal lives compared to their fellow royal family members, which makes their love story surprisingly relatable. However, because they’re such a low-key couple, there are tons of unanswered questions about their Oct. 12 wedding. For instance, do Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank have a prenup? It’s not a totally off-base question, but it’s also sort of complicated. The soon-to-be married couple has been together seven years, but with the royal family, nothing is off the table. (Except bright nail polish, of course.) The thing is, the royal family is high-profile on a worldwide scale. They’re basically like the Kardashians, but British and with crowns, titles, and dress codes. Marrying into the fam is a pretty big deal, and just like celebrities sign prenuptial arrangements, you might expect the royal family to follow suit. But surprisingly, that’s not the case.”

By |2018-10-15T13:41:14+00:00October 16th, 2018|

Buffalo Bills fan takes jab from the grave, requests six players as pallbearers so they ‘can let him down one last time’

FOX:  “A devout Buffalo Bills fan took one final dig at his team, requesting six players as pallbearers in his obituary this week, so that “they can let him down one last time.” Lee Merkel, 83, died on Sunday at his home in Raleigh, North Carolina, but the native New Yorker and lifelong season ticketholder wanted to ensure he got the final laugh.”

By |2018-10-15T11:24:18+00:00October 15th, 2018|

Til Death do Us Part: Marriage and Estate Planning

Smith Admudsen:  “You and your significant other are ready to take the next big step in your relationship: getting married. While this is an exciting event, it’s also one that should prompt you and your fiancé to have some serious conversations about the legal implications of the marriage. Here are a few considerations that might help you and your partner start your marriage with clear understandings.”

By |2018-10-08T14:49:49+00:00October 12th, 2018|

What Can Fred Trump’s Estate Teach Us?

Wealth Management:  “The president’s propensity for fudging the numbers runs in the family. That’s the main takeaway from The New York Times’ exhaustive look Tuesday at the myriad of methods that the president’s father, Fred Trump, used to minimize taxes while transferring his wealth—$413 million—to his children. What’s interesting is just how permissive the gift and estate tax regime is to those willing to fudge the truth, sometimes brazenly.”

By |2018-10-08T14:13:12+00:00October 11th, 2018|

10 Things You Need To Know About Prenups

Forbes:  “While the celebrity buzz of the week is that Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin were secretly married earlier this week, the even bigger news is that they may not have signed a prenuptial agreement. With Justin’s net worth estimated at $265 million and Hailey’s at $2 million, that’s a tremendous imbalance of wealth. Depending on how the marriage turns out, this could result in a big payday for Hailey down the road. While Justin and Hailey may be young and in love – and throwing all caution to the wind – no one with any substantial assets should follow their lead. Here are 10 things every person should know about prenuptial agreements.”

By |2018-10-08T14:06:01+00:00October 10th, 2018|

American couple lose appeal to keep Pissarro painting looted by Nazis

The Telegraph:  “An American couple have lost their bid to win back a painting by Impressionist master Camille Pissarro, as a French court confirmed it must be handed to the family of the Jewish collector it was looted from during the Second World War. Wealthy art collectors Bruce and Robbi Toll had launched an appeal after a court ruled in November that the painting belonged by rights to the descendants of Simon Bauer, a Jewish businessman disappropriated by the Nazis in 1943. The Tolls insisted they had no idea the painting, “La Cueillette” (“Picking Peas”), had been looted when they bought it at Christie’s in New York in 1995 for $800,000 (£616,000). But the Paris appeals court ruled on Tuesday that the original court decision stood, in a move hailed by the Bauer family.”

By |2018-10-08T13:57:02+00:00October 9th, 2018|

Why Estate Planning Is Easy And Legacy Planning Is Hard

Forbes: Estate planning is easy. It’s finite, calculable. What happens when you die? Who gets your stuff? How much will you owe in estate taxes and how can we prevent or prepare for it? You hire a lawyer to draft a will and possibly one or more trusts that provide for what happens when you die. It’s done. Complete. You tuck your documents away in drawer or safety deposit box and sleep well at night, knowing you have taken care of your estate plan. Death is inevitable, so planning for it—while admittedly uncomfortable for some—is relatively easy. Life, on the other hand, is hard.”

By |2018-10-08T13:48:06+00:00October 8th, 2018|

What Every Spouse Needs To Know About Inheriting IRAs

Forbes:  “One difficult financial task facing a surviving spouse is how to handle the individual retirement accounts (IRAs) and other qualified retirement plans. Mistakes often are made with inherited IRAs in general, whether they are inherited by spouses, children or others. Retirement accounts are treated differently than most other assets in the estate. The rules for inherited IRAs aren’t intuitive or simple, so mistakes are made. Surviving spouses have the same options with inherited IRAs as other beneficiaries. But there’s a twist to one of them, and the surviving spouse has an additional option.”

By |2018-10-01T15:00:38+00:00October 5th, 2018|

Don’t forget about digital assets in your estate plan

The Globe and Mail:  “If only half of Canadians have a will and only about a third of them are up-to-date, according to a recent poll, it’s likely even fewer Canadians have accounted for the growing number of digital assets in their estate plans. Many Canadians have trouble keeping track of all of their online assets – which includes everything from cryptocurrencies to eBay and PayPal accounts to loyalty reward programs and social-media sites – let alone figuring out how to distribute them among their beneficiaries when they die. Wealth-management experts warn that overlooking digital assets in estate planning can create huge headaches down the road for executors, powers of attorney and beneficiaries, especially given Canadians’ expanding digital footprints.”

By |2018-10-01T14:15:51+00:00October 4th, 2018|

Standing and Error Correction in Probate

Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog:  “Estate and guardianship proceeding are in rem and decisions are binding on the world, often without personal service or direct notice. Error correction in probate is essential because incorrect decisions can adversely affect administrations for years in the future. The Texas state legislature recognizes the importance of inheritance and guardianship and progressively expanded probate jurisdiction, including granting statutory probate courts exclusive jurisdiction over probate matters, and concurrent jurisdiction with district courts over trust and other matters. Statutory probate courts even have the power to transfer cases in other courts in other courts around the state to their own court when the proceeding affects a pending administration – the power affectionately known by practitioners as the “reach-out-and-grab” power. The legislature and courts recognize the difference between a “normal” lawsuit and an ongoing, continuing estate or guardianship administration and the need to accommodate the ability to correct errors well beyond the typical thirty days after an order is signed. The first analysis in every probate proceeding is to determine the parties who have standing in an estate.”

By |2018-10-01T13:19:12+00:00October 3rd, 2018|

Navy veteran, 66, with terminal cancer holds yard sales to raise money for funeral

Fox:  “A 66-year-old U.S. Navy veteran dying from cancer has been selling his possessions at weekend yard sales to raise money for his own funeral, reports said Wednesday. Willie Davis, of Cambria County, Pa., was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma. He plans to raise enough cash to be buried next to his parents in Culpepper, Va., according to his GoFundMe page. The page was created by two men, David Dunkleberger and his friend, Ed Sheets, after visiting Davis’ yard sale in Brownstown, Pa., in August. When they asked whose funeral Davis was financing, he replied: “Mine.”

By |2018-10-01T11:36:27+00:00October 2nd, 2018|

What ‘Succession’ And Sumner Redstone Can Teach Us About Planning Ahead For Senior Care

Forbes:  “Many of us have read the titillating and tragic story of Sumner Redstone, the former executive chairman of Viacom, and the litigious financial power struggle that has embroiled his family. Redstone’s story was a key influence on the HBO hit series Succession, which involves a lot of money, a pugnacious media mogul, a conniving lover, and children trying to wrest control of the family fortune from a sordid mess. Most of us won’t need to worry about a multi-billion-dollar empire, and our family struggles may appear mundane by comparison. But disagreements over money can and often do prevent families from making the right choices about care.”

By |2018-10-01T11:18:07+00:00October 1st, 2018|

Man charged with killing wife at sea sought to inherit her estate, prosecutor says

Fox:  “A British man murdered his wife and deliberately sank the couple’s catamaran near the Bahamas in a bid to inherit her estate, prosecutors said last week. Lewis Bennett, 41, was charged with second-degree murder on the high seas in the May 2017 disappearance of Isabella Hellmann, 41, of Delray Beach, Florida, in February. Bennett and his wife were on a delayed honeymoon to St. Maarten, Puerto Rico and Cuba.”

By |2018-09-24T14:58:52+00:00September 28th, 2018|

Tom Clancy’s Maryland Estate Hits Market for $6.2M

Barrons:  “The 537-acre Maryland estate of the late American novelist Tom Clancy has come on the market for US$6.2 million. The author of bestsellers like Clear and Present DangerPatriot Games, and The Hunt for Red October owned the sprawling property about 45 miles south of Washington, D.C., for decades until his death in 2013 at age 66. It includes acres of woods, private beach on Chesapeake Bay and a three-story custom home with a number of amenities suited to a spy fiction writer. The 17,000-square-foot main house has an underground, two-lane shooting range, which “offers an opportunity to practice your marksmanship in complete privacy,” according to listing agent Angel Stevens of Cummings & Co. Realtors.”

By |2018-09-24T14:50:07+00:00September 27th, 2018|

‘Carol Burnett’ star Tim Conway recovers from brain surgery as family battle over comic’s fate rages on

Fox:  “Tim Conway is recovering from brain surgery as his daughter and second wife fight in court over his care, Fox News learned Monday. The “Carol Burnett Show” star’s daughter, Kelly Conway, revealed that a Los Angeles court has decided a permanent conservatorship of the actor will be appointed in November. Kelly and her stepmother Charlene Conway each want sole conservatorship over the 84-year-old, who is suffering from dementia.“My brothers and I would like to thank the overwhelming support for my dad from fans all over the world that are contacting me via phone, email and social media,” Kelly told Fox News in a statement. “It lifts my brothers and me”

By |2018-09-24T14:43:08+00:00September 26th, 2018|

Frank Lloyd Wright estate owner defends weddings, seeks tax break from Orinda

East Bay Times:  “The homeowner of a Frank Lloyd Wright estate defended holding weddings on the property, saying there have been “no citations for illegal parking, no DUIs, no fights, no loud quarrels, no excessive noise citations” and calling neighbors’ complaints “baseless.” “In fact, (there have been) no citations whatsoever for anything from the police,” Gerald Shmavonian said in an interview. He added there have been no traffic accidents and no injuries on the site. “Ninety percent of the people take Uber.” “It’s true that there has been no criminal activity,” said Orinda Planning Director Drummond Buckley. But the Orinda official said Shmavonian was still in violation of the city’s zoning ordinance. Orinda bans commercial ventures in residential neighborhoods.”

By |2018-09-24T14:11:17+00:00September 25th, 2018|

Burt Reynolds Left His Only Son Out of His Will and Created a Trust for Him Instead

People:  “Screen legend Burt Reynolds left his only son out of his will — but did not cut him out. The will, which was obtained by TMZ, says of Quinton, “I intentionally omit him from this, my Last Will and Testament, as I have provided for him during my lifetime in my Declaration of Trust.” The will, which was signed in 2011, appoints Reynolds’ niece Nancy Lee Brown Hess as the personal representative of Reynolds’ estate. Reynolds lists his great nephew Brian Ritchey Brown and then his great niece Tracy Erin Rogers as the next personal representative were anything to happen to the previous one.”

By |2018-09-24T12:10:35+00:00September 24th, 2018|

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|