Often, people think they’ll have a warning before death and they’ll be able to plan once they get the warning. They think of life almost like a traffic signal. They think they are born with a green light. When they get old or get a serious illness it turns yellow. When death is imminent, the light turns red and they die. They think they’ll plan once the light turns yellow. Unfortunately, we don’t always get a warning. Sometimes the light can go directly from green to red. Death without … [Read more...] about Planning for the Unexpected
Whether or not we plan to do so, each of us will face death eventually. However, by planning, we can make our passing easier and better in many ways for those we leave behind. This is the first of a series on the ways we can ease the transition through planning. This first article focuses on privacy. The next article will focus on how you leave assets to your loved ones. Let’s look at two people who die in the same car accident. It’s a tragedy for both of them and their families. But, the … [Read more...] about Many Reasons to Plan
There are many good reasons to use trusts: Trusts avoid the probate process, which is a public process to change title of assets from the deceased person to the new recipient. Trusts may be helpful in tax planning. Specialized irrevocable trusts may be helpful in qualifying for Medicaid. Trusts are helpful to manage your assets during your incapacity, avoiding “guardianship” or “life probate.” Trusts may continue after death for the beneficiaries and can provide a multitude of … [Read more...] about Trusts for Privacy
This is another in a series of blogs on the basics of estate planning. From the dawn of time, humans have been concerned with privacy. In the biblical story of Adam and Eve, the couple sought the privacy provided by fig leaves as they left the Garden of Eden. When species Homo sapiens emerged, privacy was essential to protect against predators. In today’s world, privacy is more important than ever to protect ourselves from the seemingly ever-increasing number and types of … [Read more...] about Basics of Estate Planning: Privacy and Estate Planning
Settling an estate after a death can be expensive. However, clients aren’t always aware of the costs that will need to be paid by their estate after their death. These costs include settling a variety of debts incurred during the client’s lifetime, as well as costs and taxes incurred due to the client’s death. Costs and taxes that need to be accounted for include the following: Funeral costs. Modest funerals can run between $5,000 and $10,000. Any remaining medical bills or long-term … [Read more...] about Costs of Settling the Estate
Philip Seymour Hoffman died unexpectedly February 2, 2014, at age 46. Hoffman had roles in dozens of films. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in 2006’ Capote and won many other awards for his roles over the span of his career. Hoffman had been partnered to Marianne (“Mimi”) O’Donnell for 14 years. They had three children, Cooper, Tallulah, and Willa (ages 10, 7, and 5, respectively). Hoffman died with an estate valued at well over $35 million. We know Hoffman died with a … [Read more...] about Pointers from Philip Seymour Hoffman’s Estate Plan
Paul Walker was a film and television actor loved by countless fans. Perhaps he was best known for his roles in The Fast and the Furious and its many sequels. Walker was on his way home from an event for his Reach Out Worldwide charity (benefitting victims of Typhoon Haiyan) on November 30, 2013, when he was killed in a car accident. Walker, who was 40 at the time of his death, can teach us a few things about estate planning. Revocable Living Trusts are still an important part of an estate … [Read more...] about 3 Pointers from Paul Walker’s Estate Plan
People think trusts are all about probate avoidance. Sure, a living trust allows the grantor to avoid probate. That may or may not be a big deal, depending on the jurisdiction. Certainly, if the grantor owns real estate in multiple jurisdictions, a trust is the way for them to go to avoid multiple ancillary probates. Whether a will or a trust is used as the primary estate planning vehicle, thought should be given as to how the assets should be left to beneficiaries. A trust is like a tube of … [Read more...] about Think Before Squeezing the Toothpaste Tube!
Surveys consistently reveal that the majority of American adults do not have all the necessary estate planning documents in place. One of the reasons for this is the simple fact that dying is generally going to be the last thing on your to-do list. A lot of people feel as though they will always have time to create an estate plan at some point in the future. However, we are all "day to day" as they say on ESPN. In many cases this procrastination yields negative consequences. Neglecting to … [Read more...] about Review and Update Your Living Trust
As estate planning attorneys, we all know the many tax reasons to do estate planning. For example, doing annual exclusion gifts may reduce or eliminate state and federal estate taxes. But, there are substantive reasons to plan, besides keeping the taxman at bay. It’s good to remember these reasons in order to remind clients and prospects of the reasons they need to plan, even if they aren’t concerned about taxes. Incapacity. This may be the most important reason to plan—for themselves! … [Read more...] about Non-Tax Reasons to Plan
Sopranos star James Gandolfini died recently while in Italy. Much was made of his Will. Some criticized the fact that he did not utilize a QTIP trust to reduce or at least defer estate taxes. Some have criticized the lack of trust planning for the bequests to his sisters. But, using a Will is the hardest choice to understand. Gandolfini’s Will left the bulk of his estate to his children, rather than to his spouse. If he had chosen to leave the assets to his spouse in a QTIP trust for life, the … [Read more...] about James Gandolfini: A Death too Public
Attorneys in some jurisdictions have a preference for Wills as the primary estate planning vehicle. Other attorneys prefer Trusts as the primary vehicle. This posting is not designed to convince either set of attorneys. This sets forth the differences, so that newer estate planning attorneys can decide for themselves. When Wills are the primary estate planning vehicle, the assets of the decedent must go through the probate process to reach the intended beneficiaries. Some states have … [Read more...] about Which are Better, Wills or Trusts?