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Intestate

What If Grandma Didn’t Have a Will and Died from COVID-19?

What If Grandma Didn’t Have a Will and Died from COVID-19?

What if Grandma didin’t have a will and died from COVID-19? The latest report shows about 1.87 million reported cases and at least 108,000 COVID-19-related deaths were reported in the U.S., according to data released by Johns Hopkins University and Medicine.

Here’s a question that is being asked a lot these days: What happens if someone dies “intestate,” or without having established a will or estate plans?

If you die without a will in California and many other states, your assets will go to your closest relatives under state “intestate succession” statutes.

Yahoo Finance’s recent article entitled “My loved one died without a will – now what?” explains that there are laws in each state that will dictate what happens, if you die without a will.

In Pennsylvania, the laws list the order of who receives upon your death, if you die without a will: your spouse, your children, and then your parents (if still alive), your siblings, and then on down the line to cousins, aunts and uncles, and the like. Typically, first on every state’s list is the spouse and the children.

You may also have some valuable assets that will not pass via your will and aren’t affected by your state’s intestate succession laws. Here are some of the common ones:

  • Any property that you’ve transferred to a living trust
  • Your life insurance proceeds
  • Funds in an IRA, 401(k), or other retirement accounts
  • Any securities held in a transfer-on-death account
  • A payable-on-death bank account
  • Your vehicles held by transfer-on-death registration; or
  • Property you own with someone else in joint tenancy or as community property with the right of survivorship.

These types of assets will pass to the surviving co-owner or to the beneficiary you named, whether or not you have a will.

It’s quite unusual for the government to claim a deceased person’s estate. While it might be allowed in some states, it’s considered a last resort. Typically, we all have some relatives.

If you have a loved one who has died without a will, speak with an experienced estate planning attorney about your next steps.

Reference: Yahoo Finance (June 1, 2020) “My loved one died without a will – now what?”

Read more related articles at :

Florida Laws of Intestacy Succession

What Happens If You Die Without a Will?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What if I Don’t Have a Will in the Pandemic?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

 

Update Will

Update Will at These 12 Times in Your Life

Update Will at These 12 Times in Your Life

Estate planning lawyers hear it all the time—people meaning to update their will, but somehow never getting around to actually getting it done. The only group larger than the ones who mean to “someday,” are the ones who don’t think they ever need to update their documents, says the article “12 Different Times When You Should Update Your Will” from Kiplinger. The problems become abundantly clear when people die, and survivors learn that their will is so out-of-date that it creates a world of problems for a grieving family.

There are some wills that do stand the test of time, but they are far and few between. Families undergo all kinds of changes, and those changes should be reflected in the will. Here are one dozen times in life when wills need to be reviewed:

Welcoming a child to the family. The focus is on naming a guardian and a trustee to oversee their finances. The will should be flexible to accommodate additional children in the future.

Divorce is a possibility. Don’t wait until the divorce is underway to make changes. Do it beforehand. If you die before the divorce is finalized, your spouse will have marital rights to your property. Once you file for divorce, in many states you are not permitted to change your will, until the divorce is finalized. Make no moves here, however, without the advice of your attorney.

Your divorce has been finalized. If you didn’t do it before, update your will now. Don’t neglect updating beneficiaries on life insurance and any other accounts that may have named your ex as a beneficiary.

When your child(ren) marry. You may be able to mitigate the lack of a prenuptial agreement, by creating trusts in your will, so anything you leave your child won’t be considered a marital asset, if his or her marriage goes south.

Your beneficiary has problems with drugs or money. Money left directly to a beneficiary is at risk of being attached by creditors or dissolving into a drug habit. Updating your will to includes trusts that allow a trustee to only distribute funds under optimal circumstances protects your beneficiary and their inheritance.

Named executor or beneficiary dies. Your old will may have a contingency plan for what should happen if a beneficiary or executor dies, but you should probably revisit the plan. If a named executor dies and you don’t update the will, then what happens if the second executor dies?

A young family member grows up. Most people name a parent as their executor, then a spouse or trusted sibling. Two or three decades go by. An adult child may now be ready to take on the task of handling your estate.

New laws go into effect. In recent months, there have been many big changes to the law that impact estate planning, from the SECURE Act to the CARES act. Ask your estate planning attorney every few years, if there have been new laws that are relevant to your estate plan.

An inheritance or a windfall. If you come into a significant amount of money, your tax liability changes. You’ll want to update your will, so you can do efficient tax planning as part of your estate plan.

Can’t find your will? If you can’t find the original will, then you need a new will. Your estate planning attorney will make sure that your new will has language that states revokes all prior wills.

Buying property in another country or moving to another country. Some countries have reciprocity with America. However, transferring property to an heir in one country may be delayed, if the will needs to be probated in another country. Ask your estate planning attorney, if you need wills for each country in which you own property.

Family and friends are enemies. Friends have no rights when it comes to your estate plan. Therefore, if families and friends are fighting, the family member will win. If you suspect that your family may push back to any bequests to friends, consider adding a “No Contest” clause to disinherit family members who try to elbow your friends out of the estate.

Reference: Kiplinger (May 26, 2020) “12 Different Times When You Should Update Your Will”

Read more related articles at:

When Should You Redo Your Will?

6 Times You Need to Update Your Will

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at :

Wills v. Trusts: What’s Right for You?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

 

Cares Act

Are You Making the Most of the SECURE and CARES Acts?

Are You Making the Most of the SECURE and CARES Acts?

The SECURE Act made a number of changes to IRAs, effective January 1, 2020. It was followed by the CARES Act, effective March 27, 2020, which brought even more changes. A recent article from the Milwaukee Business Journal, titled “IRA planning tips for changes associated with the SECURE and CARES acts,” explains what account owners need to know.

Setting Every Community Up for Retirement (SECURE) Act

The age when you have to take your RMD increased from 70½ to 72, if you turned 70½ on or before December 31, 2019. Younger than 70½ before 2020? You still must take your RMDs. But, if you can, consider deferring any distributions from your RMD, until you must. This gives your IRA a chance to rebound, rather than locking in any losses from the current market.

Beneficiary rules changed. The “stretch” feature of the IRA was eliminated. Any non-spousal beneficiary of an IRA owner who dies after Dec. 31, 2019, must take the entire amount of the IRA within 10 years after the date of death. The exceptions are those who fall into the “Eligible Designated Beneficiary” category. That includes the surviving spouse, a child under age 18, a disabled or chronically ill beneficiary, or a beneficiary who is not more than ten years younger than the IRA owner. The Eligible Designated Beneficiary can take distributions over their life expectancy, starting in the year after the death of the IRA holder. If your estate plan intended any IRA to be paid to a trust, the trust may include a “conduit IRA” provision. This may not work under the new rules. Talk with your estate planning attorney.

IRA contributions can be made at any age, as long as there is earned income. If you have earned income and are 70 or 71, consider continuing to contribute to a Roth IRA. These assets grow tax free and qualified withdrawals are also tax free. If you plan on making Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCD), you’ll be able to use that contribution (up to $100,000 per year) from the IRA to offset any RMDs for the year and not be treated as a taxable distribution.

Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The deadline for contributions for traditional or Roth IRAs this year is July 15, 2020. The 2019 limit is $6,000 if you are younger than 50 and $7,000 if you are 50 and older.

RMDs have been waived for 2020. This applies to life expectancy payments. It may be possible to “undo” an RMD, if it meets these qualifications:

  • The RMD must have been taken between February 1—May 15 and must be recontributed or rolled over prior to July 15.
  • RMDs taken in January or after May 15 are not eligible.
  • Only one rollover per person is permitted within the last 12 months.
  • Life expectancy payments may not be rolled over.

Individuals impacted by coronavirus may be permitted to take out $100,000 from an IRA with no penalties. They are eligible if they have:

  • Been diagnosed with SARS-Cov-2 or COVID-19
  • A spouse or dependent has been diagnosed
  • Have experienced adverse consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed or laid off or having work hours reduced due to the virus, are unable to work because of a lack of child care, closed or reduced hours of a business owned or operated by the individual or due to other factors, as determined by the Secretary of the Treasury.
  • Note that these distributions are still taxable, but the income taxes can be spread ratably over a three-year period and are not subject to the 10% early distribution penalty.

Keep careful records, as it is not yet known how any of these distributions/redistributions will be accounted for through tax reporting.

Reference: Milwaukee Business Journal (June 1, 2020) “IRA planning tips for changes associated with the SECURE and CARES acts”

Read more related articles at:

The SECURE Act and CARES Act

5 Ways The CARES Act Impacts Retirement Planning

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

How Does the SECURE Act Change Your Estate Plan?

Click here to check out our Master Class!

 

Kobe Bryant Family

Can Kobe Bryant’s Widow Amend Trust?

Can Kobe Bryant’s Widow Amend Trust?

A report from TMZ Sports says that the late NBA legend Kobe Bryant created a trust to provide for his wife Vanessa and family in 2003.

The trust was amended a number of times, most recently in 2017. It looks like every time one of their four children was born, Kobe and his wife amended the trust to include them.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Vanessa Asks Judge To Include Capri In Kobe’s Trust” notes that the issue now is that daughter Capri was born nine months ago.

However, Kobe and Venessa weren’t in a huge rush to see their estate planning attorney and change the trust once again. Who thought that there’d be a problem? Kobe had recently retired from pro basketball and was in good health.

However, no one could have predicted the horrible tragedy that the family sustained, when both Kobe and his daughter Gigi were killed in a helicopter crash last January.

Vanessa, along with co-trustee Robert Pelinka, Jr. (the general manager of the Los Angeles Lakers and Kobe’s old boss) petitioned a probate judge to allow her to include Capri. She contends that it was clearly Kobe’s intent to provide for his children.

When Kobe’s died on January 26, 2020, the Kobe Bryant Trust was divided into two separate trusts for tax reasons. However, both are for the benefit of Vanessa and the three oldest Bryant daughters—but not Capri.

She notes that Kobe even said this generally in one of the documents.

California Probate Code states that the court is not permitted to modify a trust, where the continuation of the trust is required to carry out a material purpose of the trust, unless the court believes that the reason for modification outweighs the interest in accomplishing a material purpose of the trust.

Most observers believe that the probate court will likely permit the amendment, if it finds allowing the addition of Capri as a beneficiary is consistent with the material purposes of the trust, or if the interest in modification to add Kobe’s youngest as a beneficiary outweighs the interest in accomplishing the material purposes of the trust.

According to the trust agreement, Vanessa, Natalia, and Bianka can use the principal and income in the trust during Vanessa’s lifetime. After she passes away, the children will receive the remainder. Vanessa wants to include Capri in that distribution.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (March 24, 2020) “Vanessa Asks Judge To Include Capri In Kobe’s Trust”

Read more related articles at: KOBE’S LEGACY 

Kobe Bryant’s widow Vanessa asks judge to change his multimillion trust fund to include nine-month-old daughter Capri

 

Gene Link

Gene Role May Be a Link between Dementia and the Coronavirus

Gene Role May Be a Link between Dementia and the Coronavirus

The study in Great Britain is the latest to suggest that genetics may play a part in why some people are more vulnerable to COVID-19 than others. It may also help to explain why people with dementia have been hard hit.

“It is not just age: this is an example of a specific gene variant causing vulnerability in some people,” said David Melzer, a professor of epidemiology and public health at Exeter University and a co-author of the study.

The Guardian’s recent article entitled “Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19” explains that the study published in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences reports how researchers analyzed data from the UK Biobank, where genetic and health data on 500,000 volunteers aged between 48 and 86 has been collected.

The researchers focused on a gene called ApoE which gives rise to proteins involved in carrying fats around the body and can exist in several forms. One such variant, called “e4”, is known to impact cholesterol levels and processes involved in inflammation, as well as increasing the risk of heart disease and dementia.

They found 9,022 of almost 383,000 Biobank participants of European ancestry studied had two copies of the e4 variant, while more than 223,000 had two copies of a variant called “e3”. The former have a risk of dementia up to 14 times greater than the latter.

The researchers then studied positive tests for COVID-19 between March 16 and April 26, when testing for the coronavirus was primarily done in hospitals, suggesting the cases were severe.

The results showed that 37 people who tested positive for COVID-19 had two copies of the e4 variant of ApoE, while 401 had two copies of the e3 variant. After considering factors such as age and sex, the researchers say people with two e4 variants had more than twice the risk of severe Covid-19 than those with two e3 variants.

One professor observed that it is possible that the role of ApoE in the immune system is important in the disease. Future research may be able to harness this to develop effective treatments.

Reference: The Guardian (May 26, 2020) “Research reveals gene role in both dementia and severe Covid-19”

Read more related articles at:

Alzheimer’s Gene Linked to Higher Risk of Severe COVID-19

Dementia genotype may increase COVID-19 vulnerability

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at : 

Will New Tool Help Dementia Patients and Their Doctors?

 

End of Life Decisions

How Do I Talk about End-Of-Life Decisions?

How Do I Talk about End-Of-Life Decisions?

With the coronavirus pandemic motivating people to think about what they prioritize in their lives, experts say you should also take the time to determine your own end-of-life plans.

Queens News Service’s recent article entitled “How to have the hardest conversation: Making end-of-life decisions” reports that in this coronavirus pandemic, some people are getting scared and are realizing that they don’t have a will. They also haven’t considered what would happen, if they became extremely ill.

They now can realize that this is something that could have an impact upon them.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 70% of Americans say they’d prefer to die at home, while 70% of people die in a hospital, nursing home, or a long-term care facility. This emphasizes the importance of discussing end-of-life plans with family members.

According to a survey of Californians taken by the state Health Care Foundation, although 60% of people say that not burdening their loved ones with extremely tough decisions is important, 56% have failed to talk to them about their final wishes.

“Difficult as they may be, these conversations are essential,” says American Bar Foundation (ABF) Research Professor Susan P. Shapiro, who authored In Speaking for the Dying: Life-and-Death Decisions in Intensive Care.

“Now is a good time to provide loved ones with the information, reassurance and trust they need to make decisions,” Shapiro says.

Odds are the only person who knows your body as well as you do, is your doctor.

When thinking about your end-of-life plans, talk with your doctor and see what kind of insight she or he can provide. They’ve certainly had experience with other older patients.

If you want to make certain your wishes are carried out as you intend, detail all of your plans in writing. That way it will be very clear what your loved ones should do, if a decision needs to be made. This will eliminate some stress in a very stressful situation.

Even after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, everyone will still need a will.

Talk with an experienced elder law or estate planning attorney to make certain that you have all of the necessary legal documents for end-of-life decisions.

Reference: Queens News Service (May 22, 2020) “How to have the hardest conversation: Making end-of-life decisions”

Read more related articles at:

Talking About End-of-Life Decisions Won’t Kill You

A Physician’s Guide to Talking About End-of-Life Care

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

How Do I Plan for End-of-Life Measures for a Loved One?

eSTATE pLANNING wORKSHEET

Prevent Estate Administration Problems Before They Occur

Prevent Estate Administration Problems Before They Occur

Estate administration, that is, when the executor gets busy with paying debts, taxes and distributing assets, is often the time when any missing steps in an estate plan are revealed. The best legal problems are the ones that don’t happen, advises the article “Practical tips for estate administration, pre-planning advice, and a Coronavirus update” from the Winston-Salem Journal. Here are tips to avoid problems:

Do you need a trust to avoid probate fees and simplify estate administration?

Think of a trust as a secret box or bank account. If you own property in another state, want adult heirs to receive their inheritance over a period of time, have a beneficiary with special needs, or simply don’t want the public to learn about your assets, then a stand-alone trust that works in conjunction with your will is something to consider. However, you may be able to achieve some of these goals through beneficiary designations. A big advantage of a trust is that it is not subject to probate; assets in a probate estate become public record. If privacy is an issue, you’ll want a trust.

Is your estate plan out of date?

If your estate plan has not been updated in the last three or four years, it is likely that you have extra expenses that are no longer necessary. It’s also likely that you are missing out on tax savings opportunities. There have recently been a huge number of changes to estate and tax laws. If your will was signed before 2013, it is time to simplify your will.

Did you inherit real estate with your siblings?

If the sale of the property is still pending, get it wrapped up as soon as possible. If one of your siblings dies, or moves away, managing the disposition of real estate can become complicated and expensive.

When was the last time you reviewed Power of Attorney documents?

If you are not competent and critical steps need to be taken for your care, your agents may find themselves unable to act on your behalf, if your POA and related documents are “outdated.” They may need court intervention to make even simple decisions.

How has coronavirus impacted choices in long-term planning documents?

If your will, POA, medical power of attorney and HIPAA release forms have not been updated recently, decisions may be made without any discussion with the people you trust most.

Speak with an estate planning attorney now to get your legal and financial affairs in order. Many states have granted attorneys the ability to have documents executed and witnessed remotely, so there is no reason not to go forward now.

Reference: Winston-Salem Journal (May 3, 2020) “Practical tips for estate administration, pre-planning advice, and a Coronavirus update”

Read more related articles at:

The biggest mistakes executors make

Guidelines for Individual Executors & Trustees

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Fixing an Estate Plan Mistake

 

 

Military family

What Can Grieving Military Families Teach Civilians Dealing with COVID-19?

What Can Grieving Military Families Teach Civilians Dealing with COVID-19?

The death of a loved one is something many in the military community have already faced, especially more recently after years of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In addition, grief experts believe that the lessons those families have learned could help the rest of us through the next few difficult months, says Military Times’ recent article entitled “Here’s what grieving military families can teach civilians dealing with coronavirus tragedy.”

“People need to remember that grief is a normal reaction to loss,” said Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors. “And it’s a lifetime journey. We have families still engaged with us who lost loved ones on Sept. 11.”

COVID-19 is turning out to be deadlier for VA patients, than for the rest of the population in the U.S. More than 6% of positive cases have become fatal. TAPS averages about 23 new program enrollees a day, family members of military lost in overseas operations, suicides, or early death to disease. That total has also included several survivors of veterans and troops who have died from the coronavirus.

The biggest difference in these deaths has been isolation. It used to be that when a family reported a sudden death, program coordinators usually scheduled face-to-face counseling sessions within a few days.

However, that’s impossible now because of the national coronavirus social distancing recommendations. This has resulted in a disruption in burials and how we physically mourn these losses, which is typically to gather at the end of a life and to memorialize that person.

When military families have to endure delayed funerals, which can be due to the difficulty recovering remains from remote locations, TAPS recommends embracing other ways to mourn more immediately. This can include writing obituaries, collecting pictures and videos, or using tools like, online memorials.

We should try to actively memorialize our loved ones in a way that draws in other community members and helps families feel connected. Rather than delaying mourning, families should reflect on memories of their lost family member and move the focus from their deaths to their lives.

TAPS has also produced its mourner’s bill of rights for families who have died from coronavirus, including encouragement for grieving families to discuss their loss. Discussing the death and your grief can help you heal.

Reference: Military Times (April 23, 2020) “Here’s what grieving military families can teach civilians dealing with coronavirus tragedy”

Read more related articles at :

 

Advanced Healthcare Directive

Why Do I Need an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

Why Do I Need an Advanced Healthcare Directive?

During the prime of our lives, we typically don’t give much attention to thoughts about becoming seriously ill or about the end of life. Conversations about sickness and your own mortality aren’t easy topics to raise. However, it’s important for us to approach these heavy topics with our families, so we rest easy knowing their needs will be met if or when our health fails.

Rome News-Tribune’s recent article entitled “Things to know before drafting a living will” explains that an advanced healthcare directive, also called a living will, is a legal document in which you can detail the specific types of medical care and comfort treatment that you want, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. A living will can state whether life support should be used and whether pain medication should be administered.

A living will is separate and distinct from a traditional will. A will is a legal document that states how you would like your assets distributed after you pass away.

A living will is not always required, if you don’t have any strong feelings about the decisions made on your behalf while you are incapacitated. However, if you do want to provide instruction about your treatment and care, a living will is the best way to be certain that your choices will be carried out. Here are some other questions you may want to ask yourself about a living will.

  • Do I want to eliminate the stress of difficult decisions from my family? A living will can relieve your grieving family of the responsibility of making very tough decisions of invoking lifesaving (“heroic”) measures.
  • Do I have strong feelings about life-saving methods? A living will allows you to state your exact preferences on feeding tubes, life support when brain function is minimal and many other circumstances.
  • Do I have a trusted person who is able to carry out wishes? A health care proxy is an individual that you name and give the power to make decisions for you, if you are unable to express your preferences for medical treatment. Along with a living will, the health care proxy or “durable medical power of attorney” can fulfill your wishes accordingly.

Ask your estate planning attorney about this important component of medical and estate planning.

Reference: Rome News-Tribune (March 7, 2020) “Things to know before drafting a living will”

Read more related articles at:

Advance Care Planning: Healthcare Directives

Do You Need an Advance Health Care Directive?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Do I Really Need a Health Care Proxy?

congress 2

What Is Congress Doing to Address Affordable Senior Housing and Elder Abuse?

What Is Congress Doing to Address Affordable Senior Housing and Elder Abuse?

Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA) and Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-CA) have introduced legislation that would provide $1.2 billion of relief to the 1.6 million older adults who live in affordable senior housing communities and the providers serving them.

McKnight Senior Living’s recent article entitled “Federal legislation tackles affordable senior housing, elder abuse” says the “Emergency Housing Assistance for Older Adults Act of 2020” would provide $845 million for the HUD Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Program, including additional staff and personal protective equipment; $300 million for service coordinator grants to prevent, prepare for or respond to public health emergencies related to COVID-19; and $50 million for wireless Internet.

In addition, Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) introduced the “Promoting Alzheimer’s Awareness to Prevent Elder Abuse Act,” with companion legislation being introduced in the House by Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA). The bipartisan legislation is aimed at ensuring the Justice Department’s elder abuse training materials consider those with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

Collins noted that roughly 10% of adults age 60+ have had some form of elder abuse. Estimates have that number at about 50% for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The legislation would require the following:

  • The DOJ’s national elder justice coordinator must consider people with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias, when creating elder abuse training materials
  • Th DOJ is to consult with stakeholders in developing materials; and
  • Must include information on where to access these materials in the DOJ’s annual report.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, there may be increased risk for elder abuse, inducing elder financial exploitation. Our bipartisan bill would help ensure that the frontline professionals who are leading the charge against elder abuse have the training needed to respond to cases where the victim or a witness has Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia,” Collins, founder and co-chair of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and chair of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, said.

The bill is endorsed by the Alzheimer’s Association and the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement, as well as the bipartisan Elder Justice Coalition.

Reference: McKnight Senior Living (May 19, 2020) “Federal legislation tackles affordable senior housing, elder abuse”

Read more Related Articles at :

Types of Elder Abuse

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at: 

Elder Abuse Continues as a Billion-dollar Problem

 

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