Estate Planning Blog

Are Your Kids Heading off to College? Consider Setting Up A Power of Attorney

SmithAmundsen:  “The summer before I went off to college, my dad made me sign a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances.  My dad was a lawyer and I was his third child, so he knew that in order to talk to the university and find out my grades, he needed a Durable Power of Attorney for Finances.  My mom also insisted upon me signing a Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care, so that in the event of a medical emergency she and my dad would be able to talk to the doctor and hospitals and make medical decisions for me. I did not realize then that when an individual turns 18, they are an adult and presumed to be capable of making their own financial and health care decisions. Although I was a responsible 18 year old, as a college Freshman I was not prepared to make many financial decisions or even understand what doctors were telling me, so I really appreciated my parent’s help. The powers of attorney came in handy when I spent my junior year abroad.  My parents were able to help me when I had some issues with my scholarship in the United States, and were able to talk to airlines about my flights and to the credit card company about suspicious charges.”

By |2018-07-16T12:38:53+00:00July 18th, 2018|

Protecting Your Pets: How to Make Financial Provisions in a Will or Trust

Fiduciary Trust International:  “For many people, pets aren’t property—they are members of the family in every sense of the word; providing emotional support, protection and comfort in good times and bad. In return, we give them shelter, affection and a significant amount of financial support. According to a Harris Poll survey, Americans spend an average of nearly $1,500 on essentials such as food, grooming, boarding and trips to the veterinarian’s office for their pets each year. Horses are the most expensive at roughly $13,000 a year. But making financial provisions for a pet who outlives you hasn’t always been possible, at least not formally. Trusts were designed originally to benefit humans or charity, not animals.”

By |2018-07-16T12:24:01+00:00July 17th, 2018|

Two Men Claiming to be Charles Manson’s Sons Eliminated From Fight Over Estate

Daily Mail:  “A Los Angeles judge has eliminated two purported sons of Charles Manson from the battle over his estate. Matthew Lentz, a musician who claims Manson conceived him at an orgy in 1967, and Michael Brunner, whose mother was a member of the family, were two of four people fighting over the cult leader’s estate. On Friday, Judge Clifford Klein eliminated them on lack of proof that they were the rightful heirs to all memorabilia or, crucially, his image and publishing rights.”

By |2018-07-16T12:13:05+00:00July 16th, 2018|

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

JDSupra:  “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. This involves an attorney filing to have someone be appointed a conservator, and the conservator having to work with the court to manage the money, including the court having to approve any expenditures for the child.

By |2018-07-09T12:40:26+00:00July 12th, 2018|

Businesses Require Proper Estate Planning

Brooklyn Trust and WIll:  “While many people associate the process of estate planning with retirement and owning significant value in assets, the fact of the matter is that quite the contrary is actually true. Estate planning by definition is the process of preparing for the transfer of wealth after death, so if you own anything of value, estate planning becomes necessary if you wish to pass on your assets to any beneficiaries. Further, estate planning becomes particularly necessary if you own a business, as the law may not always coincide with your intentions regarding passing on ownership of the business after your passing.”

By |2018-07-09T12:05:07+00:00July 11th, 2018|

How Anthony Bourdain’s Estate Plan Reflected The Two Most Important Parts Of His Life

Forbes:  “Ever since his untimely death, the press and the public hasn’t been able to get enough of Anthony Bourdain. His name caused another commotion this week when his will was probated in New York. The New York Post’s Page Six headline read “Anthony Bourdain Worth Only $1.21M at the Time of His Death.” Social media responded immediately as the actual dollar amount just didn’t seem right.  How could Bourdain’s net worth be so much less than the public previously speculated? While a man’s worth is quite subjective, Bourdain, by all accounts, was an American success story. Though he often admitted that he’d lived paycheck to paycheck well into his 40s, by having an estate valued in excess of $1 million, Bourdain could be considered in the top 3% of all Americans in terms of wealth. In his case, the estate plan reflected two interesting aspects of the man and what he truly valued.

By |2018-07-09T11:16:20+00:00July 10th, 2018|

What Happens to Your Points and Miles After You Die?

The Points Guy:  “On Friday, it was revealed that celebrated chef and traveler Anthony Bourdain left his “accumulated frequent flyer miles” to his wife Ottavia Busia. They separated in 2016, but the divorce was not yet finalized upon Bourdain’s death, meaning she will still serve as executor of the estate. Bourdain’s estate was valued at $1.2 million, considerably smaller than you might anticipate given his appearances across current pop culture, though apparently he had additional assets in trust. But his will brings up the question of whether you’re allowed to gift property that technically isn’t yours, which is what airline points and miles are according the vast majority of loyalty program terms and conditions.”

By |2018-07-09T11:00:12+00:00July 9th, 2018|

Lisa Marie Presley Sues Money Manager, Claims MisManagement of $100 Million Trust Fund

Daily Mail:  “Lisa Marie Presley’s ex-money manager paid himself an annual salary of more than $700,000 – while he was losing her $100 million fortune, Elvis’s daughter claims. Barry Siegel ‘enriched himself with exorbitant fees’, blasts 50-year-old Presley in new court documents filed at Los Angeles Superior Court in her lawsuit against Siegel and his company, Provident Financial Management. She is accusing Siegel and his firm of running the $100 million trust fund her father set up for her ‘into the ground’ to just $14,000 by ‘reckless and negligent’ investments – the largest investment being in American Idol’s holding company which ended up going bankrupt.”

By |2018-06-25T16:40:40+00:00June 27th, 2018|

Heather Mack settles claims for mother’s estate four years after killing her with her boyfriend – and all the money left will go to her daughter Stella, 3

Daily Mail:  “‘Body In A Suitcase’ murderer Heather Mack has given up her claim on her mother’s million dollar estate – which will now go to her three-year-old daughter Stella. Mack is serving a ten year sentence in one of the world’s most notorious prisons in Bali for murdering her mom Sheila von Wiese-Mack with her boyfriend Tommy Schaefer in 2014 in a plot to take her inheritance.”

By |2018-06-25T16:04:54+00:00June 26th, 2018|

The Rich Are Betting On Living to 100

Bloomberg:  Money might not buy love, but it can buy better health. And, to live as long as possible, the world’s wealthy are willing to pay up. Over the past few decades, the average person’s lifespan has risen almost everywhere in the world. In China, the U.S. and most of Eastern Europe, the average life expectancy at birth has reached the late 70s, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD. People in Western Europe and Japan, meanwhile, can expect to live into their early 80s. Most rich people, however, are counting on living even longer—a lot longer, as in two decades more than average. In a new UBS Financial Services survey, 53 percent of wealthy investors said they expected to live to 100.

By |2018-06-25T15:08:11+00:00June 25th, 2018|

Thirteen Estate Planning Tips for Beneficiaries with Special Needs  “Life is more complicated for families who have a loved one with a disability. From finding the right medical professionals and the right schools or other programs, to obtaining necessary therapies and services, individuals with disabilities face additional steps, extra time and a need for specialized knowledge at every stage of life. In addition to facing these stresses, families may receive misinformation, which makes decision making more difficult.

Planning for Beneficiaries with Special Needs

While the development of an estate plan can be difficult for any family, for a family of an individual with a disability, the planning, as with all things, has added complexity. Primary caretakers of a loved one with a disability routinely wonder who’ll care for, love and financially support their family member when they’re gone.”

By |2018-06-18T13:53:28+00:00June 22nd, 2018|

Kate Spade, Anthony Bourdain And Estate Planning When You Are Separated

Forbes:  “The recent tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain had more in common than how they died. They were both separated from their spouses at the time of their deaths.  While by all accounts these separations were amicable, the fact that they were not legally divorced can lead to a host of estate planning issues. When spouses decide to divorce, the usual framework is a process involving attorneys and the court system. But as modern family life is complex, it is becoming more common for spouses to remain permanently separated yet not divorced.  It’s a state of gray that many feel comfortable in. Unfortunately for both family law and estate law, it’s a hard place to be. Just how many couples in the U.S. permanently separate versus divorce is not clear. Most researchers find the U.S. divorce rate hovers somewhere between 42% to 45%. However, when permanent separations are factored in, it is estimated that the rate is really 50%.”

By |2018-06-18T13:11:23+00:00June 21st, 2018|

L.A. Police Investigate Reports That Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee Is a Victim of Elder Abuse

Time:  “Los Angeles police are investigating reports of elder abuse against Stan Lee that come amid a struggle over the life and fortune of the 95-year-old Marvel Comics mogul, court documents showed Wednesday. The investigation was revealed in a restraining order granted against Keya Morgan, who in recent months has been acting as Lee’s business manager and personal adviser. Morgan has inserted himself into the life of the Lee, according to the order. The filing accuses Morgan, 42, of taking advantage of Lee’s impaired hearing, vision and judgment, moving Lee from his longtime family home and preventing family and associates from contacting him.”

By |2018-06-18T12:13:53+00:00June 20th, 2018|

Tom Wolfe’s will reveals he left the bulk of fortune to his wife of 40 years and asked to be cremated

Daily Mail:  “Late author Tom Wolfe left his estate to his wife and two children, it has been revealed. Wolfe’s will was filed in Manhattan Surrogate’s Court on Thursday.The ‘new journalism’ pioneer left his wife, Sheila, ‘all of the tangible personal property’ and ‘all my right, title and interest to any real property and any cooperative apartment used by me or my family as a residence…,’ according to court paper.”

By |2018-06-18T11:35:44+00:00June 19th, 2018|

When you write your will, don’t mess this up

Market Watch:  Two chores that most people gladly put off: The first is writing a will—and the second is updating it to reflect changed circumstances. Either way, it’s crucial to name the right executors.Regarding the first chore, my client roster includes recalcitrant individuals who’ve yet to write their wills. I regularly remind them how badly things could turn out if they fail to do so. For instance, their assets might wind up with individuals whom they never intended to benefit or they consider less deserving of their largess than others.

By |2018-06-18T11:06:18+00:00June 18th, 2018|

Your Parent Didn’t Have A Will: What Should You Do Now?

Forbes:  “Mom or dad has passed away and despite your requests over the last few years for them to see a lawyer and do a will, they never did. What do you do now. Make a diligent search for a will. Look through your parent’s records and file cabinets, talk to their close friends and other relatives, ask their accountant and any lawyer they worked with in the past. Look around the house for business cards of lawyers, accountants or financial advisors.”

By |2018-06-11T13:36:04+00:00June 15th, 2018|

What Happens to Your Pet When You Die–How to Plan for Them Now

Milwaukee Community Journal:  Having a pet is a privilege as well as a responsibility. Some believe that this responsibility is on par to caring for children, especially when they themselves do not have children of their own. In this sense their pet is truly their family and would like to see them taken care of after their death. There are several ways to make sure that your pet is provided for in your will after you pass on.

By |2018-06-11T12:38:29+00:00June 14th, 2018|

Rich Kids Are Counting On Inheritance to Pay for Retirement

Bloomberg:  “At first glance, it may look like brazen entitlement: Sixty-three percent of affluent children between the ages of 18 and 22 say financial stability in retirement will depend on inheriting money. As in, the money their parents spent a lifetime accumulating—or, given increasing income inequality, inherited themselves. Before you start growling, consider that this may be a signal of desperation, not greed. The rise in student debt, increased life expectancy and the many competing priorities for money that are considered the “new normal” for younger generations have them wondering how they will pay for it all.”

By |2018-06-11T12:28:38+00:00June 13th, 2018|

ABLE Accounts Give Disabled More Financial Freedom

Kiplinger:  “The ABLE Act of 2014—the acronym stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience—allowed people of any age who developed a qualifying disability before age 26 (or their parents, relatives or friends) to invest up to $15,000 per year in an account that they can tap tax-free. Now, four years later, 36 states and the District of Columbia offer ABLE plans, and more states are joining their ranks. Texas introduced its ABLE program in May, and plans in California and several other states are on the way soon.”

By |2018-06-11T12:10:35+00:00June 12th, 2018|

Estate Planning: Leaving Assets to a ‘Troubled’ Heir  “If you have a child who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or who is financially irresponsible, you already know the heartbreak associated with trying to help that child make healthy decisions.  Perhaps your other adult children are living independent lives, but this child still turns to you to bail him out – either figuratively or literally – of trouble. If these are your circumstances, you are probably already worrying about how to continue to help your child once you are gone.  You predict that your child will misuse any lump sum of money left to him or her via your will.

By |2018-06-11T11:58:09+00:00June 11th, 2018|

Real Estate Inheriting Property Overseas Can be a Dream Come True, but it Comes with Challenges

Washington Post:  “Artist Carey Maxon was living in Brooklyn in 2015 when she received an email informing her that she had been named sole heir in a will in Italy. It was not a scam. Maxon recognized the name of the executor who sent the message — and of the architect whose farm she had lived on after college. Ermanno Gardani had died, leaving her a Tuscan estate, complete with 1,000 olive trees, forests, farmland and two homes, as well as an apartment in Milan.”

By |2018-06-04T12:18:16+00:00June 8th, 2018|

Michael Jackson Estate Sues The Walt Disney Company

TMZ:  “The people who manage Michael Jackson’s estate say The Walt Disney Co. has some nerve for profiting off the tears of MJ’s kids and stealing a bunch of its property … all to make a shoddy TV special they claim never came close to documenting Michael’s ‘Last Days.’ The estate just sued The Walt Disney Co. claiming copyright infringement and saying it never had permission to use a bunch of its footage for its “The Last Days of Michael Jackson” TV special … which premiered last week to more than 5.5 million viewers.”

By |2018-06-04T12:08:59+00:00June 7th, 2018|

Woman accused of cheating trustees, spending their money on Vegas gambling trip

The Sacramento Bee:  A Sacramento woman is accused of cheating beneficiaries of a trust and using some of the money to gamble in Las Vegas, authorities said Wednesday. A federal grand jury returned an eight-count indictment against Loretta Darlene Stewart-Cabrera on April 26 charging her with mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

By |2018-06-04T11:08:33+00:00June 6th, 2018|

Warren Buffett’s Advice On How To Raise Well-Adjusted Heirs

Forbes:  “At the Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy in San Francisco on Wednesday, billionaire investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett took to the stage to discuss his lifetime of giving. The Oracle of Omaha, who will turn 88 in August, pointed out his own longevity–“I have lived for more than a third of the life of this country”–and discussed how his three children may carry on his philanthropic legacy. “Every single share of Berkshire I own will be diverted into philanthropy 10 years after my estate is executed for future philanthropists who can see future needs,” Buffett told conference attendees. “I might be able to think outside the box, but when the box is 6 feet under, I’m not so sure.”  His remarks contained some valuable advice–wisdom picked up in the course of his nearly nine decades.”

By |2018-06-04T10:28:08+00:00June 5th, 2018|

Why Inconsistent Income Needs Consistent Planning

The New York Times:  “Klay Thompson, an All-Star basketball player, helped lead the Golden State Warriors to their fourth N.B.A. finals, which continue this weekend. Chris Levinson, an accomplished Hollywood writer whose credits include “Dawson’s Creek” and “Law & Order,” recently sold two television series, one to Bravo and the other to Hulu. Both of their careers are going well, and they’re being paid handsomely. But nothing is certain. Mr. Thompson has been making millions of dollars a year since he was drafted in 2011 at age 21, including $18 million this season before any playing bonuses or endorsements. But at 28, he knows that one bad injury could end his career.”

By |2018-06-04T09:59:13+00:00June 4th, 2018|

How Much Money Do Americans Need To Be Rich?

Financial Advisor:  “Many Americans cite leading a stress-free life and having “peace of mind” as their personal definition of wealth. That doesn’t sound too money-centric on the face of it—until you consider that money, or specifically the lack of it, is a major source of stress. Americans don’t like to admit that assets can buy happiness — just 11 percent of those surveyed for the second annual Modern Wealth Index from Charles Schwab chose “having lots of money” as their definition of wealth.

By |2018-05-23T11:58:30+00:00May 25th, 2018|

How to Be Richer in Retirement

Deborah  “If you spent most of your adult life budgeting around a steady paycheck, a departure from the workforce, by choice or circumstance, poses a new challenge: What funds will you use to meet expenses? The answer, which might vary from one year to the next, will inevitably affect your tax bill. And that, in turn, could drastically impact your standard of living. Tax planning, which is always a concern, becomes even more important during the years between active employment and retirement. Depending on when you leave your job, that could take a decade or longer. Which assets you draw down first and how you coordinate the various moving parts will determine how much you have to live on each year and what goes to Uncle Sam.”

By |2018-05-23T11:50:38+00:00May 24th, 2018|


TMZ:  Alan Thicke’s widow says his sons are treating her unfairly and believes they might be recklessly spending his money while holding out on her inheritance … according to new legal docs. Tanya Thicke claims Alan’s sons — Robin and Brennan, who are co-trustees of their late father’s estate — are not only keeping her in the dark about how they are managing his trust ... but are ganging up on her and possibly robbing her from what she’s owed.

By |2018-05-14T16:20:31+00:00May 18th, 2018|