Protecting Your Children’s Inheritance When You are Divorced

Consider this story.  Beth’s divorce from her husband was recently finalized.  Her most valuable assets are her retirement plan at work and her life insurance policy.  She updated the beneficiary designations on both to be her two minor children.  She did not want her ex-husband to receive the money. Beth passes away one year after her divorce.  Her children are still minors, so the retirement plan and insurance company require an adult to be appointed to receive the inheritance Beth left behind.  Who does the court presumptively look to serve as the caretaker of this money?  Beth’s ex-husband who is [...]

Why Not Just Go on Nolo® or LegalZoom or Other Form Provider and Create Your Own Estate Planning Documents Cheaply?

There are many software programs, as well as websites, that sell do-it-yourself estate planning documents.  These websites and form tools seem to offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative to consulting with an estate planning attorney.  But do they really meet your needs and protect your family?  Is online, do-it-yourself estate planning worth the perceived upfront savings? Penny Wise and Pound Foolish In all but the simplest scenarios, do-it-yourself estate planning is risky and can become a costly substitute for comprehensive in-person planning with a professional legal advisor.  Typically, these online programs and services have significant limitations when it comes to [...]

By |2021-09-21T17:57:17+00:00August 23rd, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

How to Fix 5 Common Estate Planning Problems

Not surprisingly, most people loathe reviewing their estate plan because it can be both confusing and daunting.  Others do not want to think about death and avoid the topic altogether.  If you already have put an estate plan together, you are ahead of the curve as many people do not have one.  If you do not yet have an estate plan, there is no better time than now to sit down and get one in place.  In either scenario, below are five common estate planning mistakes and how to fix them so that you are fully protecting your family. You [...]

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 Biggest Threats to Successful Estate Planning

Poor estate planning is a recipe for disaster.  Look no further than Dickens’ Bleak House — or a telenovela — to witness the tragedy and melodrama inadequate estate planning can cause.  While having your estate planning documents prepared is the first hurdle to overcoming these types of disasters, there are several threats that lurk around the corner that might derail your wishes. Family Conflict According to a TF Wealth survey of over 100 estate planning professionals, family conflict is the number one risk to a peaceful inheritance.  If children are treated differently under the estate plan, there is often an [...]

How That “Simple” Fix Can Really Cost You and Your Family

Joint Tenancy Pitfalls: The ‘Simple’ Fix that Can Leave Your Family Broke There are many ways to own your assets. When you die, it is only natural that you want your family to share in the bounty of your hard work. As a way to simplify the transfer process and avoid probate, you may be tempted to add a child or other relative to the deed or bank account utilizing the ownership type of joint tenancy with right of survivorship (JTwROS).  However, while this type of ownership delivers a lot of potential benefits, it may also be masking some dangerous pitfalls. [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:23:47+00:00February 15th, 2018|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

Dennis Hopper Saves Heirs with Last Minute Estate Plan Changes

Dennis Hopper, known for his role in Easy Rider, wanted to leave his fortune to his family.  Well, not everyone in his family. Hopper made numerous estate planning changes in the last months of his life. His goal? To make sure his heirs shared his approximately $40 million in wealth and that his fifth, and current wife, Victoria, did not. The 5th Marriage Isn’t Always the Charm… At least that was the case between Hopper and his fifth wife, Victoria Duffy-Hopper, who was six years younger than Hopper’s oldest daughter from a previous marriage. It’s a long and rather ugly story, so let’s just touch [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:27:28+00:00October 16th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

The Following Tips Can Protect Your Estate Plan Against Several Worst-Case Scenarios.

Safeguarding Your Estate Plan Against Three Worst-Case Scenarios There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.                                      –Robert Burns Even with an estate plan, things can always happen that may cause confusion for the estate–or threaten the plan altogether. Below are three examples of worst-case scenarios and ways to demonstrate how a carefully crafted plan can address issues, from the predictable to the total surprise. Scenario One: Family Members Battle One Another Despite your best intentions, what happens if the people you care about most get into a knockdown, drag-out fight over your estate? Disputes over who should [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:28:40+00:00April 4th, 2017|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

Another 3 Famous Pet Trust Cases and the Lessons We Can Learn from Them

Things don’t always go according to plan. On the other hand, sometimes pet owners can get a bit creative when providing for their pets. Let’s take a look now at 3 famous cases involving pet trusts and distill important lessons from them. David Harper and Red David Harper, a wealthy, reclusive bachelor in Ottawa, Canada, wasn’t exactly famous during his life. In his death, however, he made headlines by reportedly leaving his entire $1.1 million dollar estate to his tabby cat, Red. Just to make sure his wishes were carried out, Harper actually bequeathed the fortune to the United Church [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:29:06+00:00November 15th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

3 Famous Pet Trust Cases and the Lessons We Can Learn from Them

Not long ago, pet trusts were thought of as little more than eccentric things that famous people did for their pets when they had too much money. These days, pet trusts are considered mainstream. For example: in May 2016, Minnesota became the 50th (and final) state to recognize pet trusts. But not every pet trust is enacted exactly according to the owner’s wishes. Let’s look at 3 famous pet trust cases and consider the lessons we can take away from them so your furry family member can be protected through your plan. Leona Helmsley and Trouble Achieving notoriety in the 1980s [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:29:12+00:00November 1st, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments

3 Mega-Celebrities Who Died Without a Will: Do Not Follow in Their Footsteps!

A will documents who gets what (and when) after you die. Without a will, state law doles out your belongings. In many cases, your assets may end up in the hands of complete strangers.  That’s exactly what happened to these three mega-celebrities: James Dean. Dean died intestate (without a will) in 1955 at the age of 24. State law awarded most of his meager estate (he had only made three movies) to his father – now most of that is in the hands of his father’s relatives. His father did use some of that money to create a foundation to maximize [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:41:38+00:00September 20th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Prince’s Sad and Incredibly Expensive Mistake! (Are You Making It, Too?)

The news of the unexpected death of music legend Prince, age 57, shocked the world and touched off stirring tributes from the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, the Harlem Gospel Choir and the cast of Saturday Night Live. Prince left a profound, indelible mark as an artist – when asked what it was like to be the greatest guitar player alive, for instance, Eric Clapton famously responded: “I don’t know. Ask Prince.” Tragically, though, for all his talent, Prince made a simple error that is creating huge complications for his family. According to paperwork filed with the Carver County, Minnesota courts [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:29:41+00:00September 15th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

3 Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons

With extreme wealth accumulated, one would assume that celebrities would take steps to protect their estates. But think again: Some of the world’s richest and most famous people enter the pearly gates with no estate plan in place, while others have made estate planning mistakes that tied their fortunes and heirs up for years in court. Let’s take a look at three high-profile celebrity probate disasters and discover what lessons we can learn from them. Tom Carvel, The Ice Cream Man As the man who invented soft-serve ice cream and established the first franchise business in America, Tom Carvel had [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:29:49+00:00September 6th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Flo Jo’s Tragic Mistake: A Missing Will

If you’ve created a will, congratulations! You have made your intentions clear to the world and have provided for your loved ones based on what you determined was best. One caveat, and Rule #1 when creating your will – make sure to tell someone where to find it!  Olympic Gold Medalist’s Death Tears Family Apart When Will Is Lost Olympian sprinter Florence (Flo Jo) Griffith Joyner was considered to be the “fastest woman of all time” having broken records in the 100 and 200 meter sprints in the 1988 Olympics. She was only 28-years-old at the time. Sadly, she died ten years later from [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:30:13+00:00August 22nd, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: |0 Comments

Michael Jackson’s Estate Pulled Into Seemingly Endless Probate Court Battles

Michael Jackson, the “King of Pop,” had always been a controversial superstar. Over the years, he became the father of three children, Prince Michael Jackson II, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, and Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr.  While Jackson created a trust to care for his children and other family and friends, he never actually funded it. The result? Embarrassing and seemingly endless probate court battles between family members, the executors, and the IRS. 4 Essential Purposes of a Trust A trust is a fiduciary arrangement which allows a third party (known as a trustee) to hold assets on behalf of beneficiaries. There are four [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:16+00:00August 18th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

Over 70% of Elvis Presley’s Estate Paid in Taxes & Fees: How Can You Avoid the Same Trap?

Did you know that the legendary singer and actor, Elvis Presley, earned over a billion dollars throughout his somewhat short career? That’s billion – with a B. However, when the “King of Rock & Roll” died in 1977, his estate’s net worth was only $10 million.  Of that, over 70% went to pay taxes and fees. That left someone who had earned over a billion dollars with only about $3 million (this time with an M) in the end. So, where did the money go and, more importantly, how can you avoid the same trap? Where Did The Money Go? It seems [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:41:23+00:00August 8th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

Doris Duke’s Trustee Bilked Estate for $1M: How Well Do You Know Yours?

Choosing a trustee is a very personal matter and should never be left to chance. Doris Duke, heiress of Duke’s energy and tobacco fortunes, didn’t seem to know her trustee very well at all.  After Duke passed in 1992, her trustee bilked the estate for over $1 million. It begs the question:  How well do you know your trustee? The Butler Did It! That old saying certainly fits in this situation because Doris Duke had her butler appointed as her estate’s trustee. The estate was reportedly worth $1.3 billion at the time of her death. Perhaps all that money was too much [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:38+00:00July 28th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

The IRS Took Half of Tony Soprano’s Estate: Don’t Fall Into the Same Trap!

Actor and producer, James Gandolfini was famously known as the likeable mafia man Tony Soprano on the long running cable television series, The Sopranos. On the show, family meant everything. Well, sort of, anyway. In real life, Gandolfini’s family really did mean everything and he had the best intentions when it came to providing for them.  However, he made a classic mistake by failing to take advantage of tax incentives, legal protections and opportunities. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) ended up taking half of his estate. Don’t fall into the same trap. An Estate Planning Attorney Could Have Saved Gandolfini Millions [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:31:47+00:00July 14th, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , |0 Comments

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

Escape from a Bad Trust: 5 Strong Reasons to Decant Your Trust

When a bottle of wine is decanted, it’s poured from one container into another. When a trust is decanted, trust assets are poured from an old trust into a new trust with more favorable terms. Why Should a Trust Be Decanted? Trusts are decanted to escape from a bad trust and provide beneficiaries with more favorable trust provisions and benefits. Here are 5 strong reasons to decant your trust: To clarify ambiguities or drafting errors in the trust agreement. As trust beneficiaries die and younger generations become the new heirs, vague provisions or mistakes in the original trust agreement may become [...]

By |2021-09-21T19:32:03+00:00March 1st, 2016|Categories: Estate Planning|Tags: , , |0 Comments
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