Thursday, February 15, 2018

After Tax Reform, Is Estate Planning Still Necessary?

The new tax legislation raises the federal estate tax exemption to $11.2 million for individuals and $22.4 million for couples. The increase means that an exceedingly small number of estates (only about 1,800, nationally) will have to worry about federal estate taxes in 2018, according to estimates from the nonpartisan congressional Joint Committee on Taxation.

So, you may be wondering, is estate planning even still necessary?

To put it simply: Yes!

Comprehensive estate planning does a lot more than guard against you owing federal estate taxes.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Why a Trust Is the Best Option for Avoiding Probate

As Ambrose Bierce once darkly observed, “Death is not the end.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Pros and Cons of Probate

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often comes with a starkly negative connotation. Indeed, for many people — especially those with larger estates — financial planners recommend trying to keep property out of probate whenever possible. That being said, the probate system was ultimately established to protect the property of the deceased and his/her heirs, and in a few cases it may even work to an advantage. Let’s look briefly at the pros and cons of going through probate.

The Pros

For some estates, especially those in which no will was left, the system works to make sure all assets are distributed according to state law.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

3 Reasons You Want to Avoid Probate

When you pass away, your family may need to visit a probate court in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other asset) in only your name. Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply lets you inform the probate court of your wishes - your family still has to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal.

Now that you have an idea of why probate might be necessary, here are 3 key reasons why you want to avoid probate if at all possible.

Read more . . .

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

3 Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

While it is an honor to be named as an executor of a will or estate, it can also be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor (sometimes called a personal representative) requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the assets to which they are entitled. If you’ve found yourself in the position of “overwhelmed executor,” here are some tips to lighten the load.

1.  Get professional help from an experienced attorney.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

What To Do After a Loved One Dies

If you've been appointed an executor of a loved one's estate, or a successor trustee, and that person dies, your grief – not to mention your to-do list, including tasks ranging from planning the funeral, coordinating relatives coming in from out of town and (eventually) meeting with a trust administration or probate lawyer – can be quite overwhelming. First and foremost, take care of yourself during this emotional time.

To help you with the “business” end of things, here’s a quick checklist of crucial details that will make the trip to our office to handle the legal affairs easier. I know it can be difficult, but some of these things have a deadline, so make sure that you reach out sooner rather than later:

● Secure the deceased's personal property (vehicle, home, business, etc.).

Read more . . .

Friday, December 16, 2016

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.

1. 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 a net worth of up to $200 million when he died in 1990.
Read more . . .

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Let's Go Crazy: Prince's Estate Entering New Battle Over Who Will Inherit His Millions

Many of you may be following what is happening with pop star Prince's estate battle. As you likley know Prince died without a will or trust. Thus, the state law of Minnesota will determine who his heirs are. As you can imagine, there were several people coming forward claiming to be a child of Prince's. The battle continues.
Read more . . .

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Biggest Mistakes Executors Make

If you think it is an honor to be named the executor of someone's estate you might want to think again. As this article point out there are legal traps for the executor who does not get proper advice. This article does a good job of highlighting some of the mistakes executors make which could open up the executor to personal liability.

 The Biggest Mistakes Executors Make

Monday, July 16, 2012

Joe Paterno's Will

After Joe Paterno's death, in an unusual move, the probate court entered an order sealing his Will from being released to the public. This was very unusual because when a Will is filed with the probate court it generally becomes part of the public record. Anyone who wants could march down to the court and review the Will and even make a copy. However, the court later rescinded its order and opened it up for public inspection.  See an article on this here.

From this article is appears that Mr. Paterno did his planinng around a revocable trust. The Will provided his wife was to receive all tangible personal property such as furnishings, artwork, and similar items. However, the Will provided that all other assets were to pass to his revocable trust which remains private. A trust typically does not have to be filed with the probate court and thus will not be made public. We do not know who the beneficairies are of the trust but we can surmise Mr. Paterno set up a plan to reduce estate taxes and provide for his wife and children.

If you value keeping your affairs private consider using a revocable trust as part of your planning. Trusts are not necessarily for everyone and you should seek competent legal counsel to decide if a trust would benefit you and your loved ones.

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