Parental Warning: If You Own Your Property This Way, You May Accidentally Disinherit Your Own Children

Owning property as Joint Tenants with Right of Survivorship is easy, common, and often disastrous.  Sadly, children – both minor and adult – are often disinherited. While there are several forms of joint ownership, the one most people use (and the one considered in this discussion) is called “Joint Ownership with Right of Survivorship.” When one owner dies, the jointly owned asset automatically, by operation of law, transfers to the surviving owner. Joint ownership is a very common way for married people to own their assets. Joint ownership is also commonly used by aging parents and their adult children. Joint [...]

The One Thing Every New Grandparent Must Do As Soon As Possible

Congratulations on welcoming the newest addition to your family.  Being a new grandparent changes everything — including how you approach your finances — and is one of the most joyous occasions in life.  The excitement of a new baby — and all of the firsts that come with this bundle of joy — can grab all of your attention and focus.  That being said, there is one thing that every new grandparent must do as soon as possible that is often overlooked.  Specifically, every new grandparent should immediately create (or revise) an estate plan so that it includes your family’s [...]

The Perils of Promises… Marlon Brando’s Story

Legendary Oscar-winning actor Marlon Brando left the bulk of his estate (worth approximately $26 million) to his producer and other associates. Brando created a valid last will and testament. However, he did not include his longtime housekeeper Angela Borlaza – who later sued alleging that Brando promised that she would inherit a home from him when he died. A Promise Is A Promise… While a promise is a promise, not all promises are legally equal.  In the courtroom, an oral promise is usually not treated the same as a written promise. In this case, Brando either never promised Borlaza anything or promised [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:54+00:00June 30th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

Surprise! You Can’t Easily Disinherit Your Spouse in the U.S.

Believe it or not, in the U.S. it isn’t easy to disinherit your spouse.  But the same is not true for other family members – generally, you can use your estate plan to disinherit your brothers and sisters, your nieces and nephews, or even your very own children and grandchildren.  However, in the majority of states and the District of Columbia, you can’t intentionally disinherit your spouse unless your spouse actually agrees to receive nothing from your estate in a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement. Beware:  Spousal Disinheritance Laws Vary Widely From State to State Unfortunately there isn’t one set of rules that govern [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:40:55+00:00September 21st, 2015|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Who’s Going to Get It: Do You Really Know the Beneficiaries of Your Dynasty Trust?

Today many estate plans contain irrevocable dynasty trusts that will continue for the benefit of a spouse’s lifetime and then for the benefit of several generations.  Since these trusts are designed to span multiple decades, it is important that they clearly define who will be included as trust beneficiaries at each generation. Who Are Your Descendants? In the past the definition of “descendant” was straightforward:  A person who can be traced back to a specific ancestor through the same blood lines.  But the modern family now encompasses much more than just blood heirs: Adopted beneficiaries. In your trust, should the [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:46:27+00:00December 15th, 2014|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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