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spring clean documents

It’s Spring! Time For a Little Spring Cleaning. 12 Instances Where You Should Update Your Documents.

It’s Spring! Time For a Little Spring Cleaning. 12 Instances Where You Should Update Your Documents.

1. You are having your first child.

This one should be a no-brainer, and the birth of a first child is usually when people create their first will. The focus on this will should be naming your choice of guardian for your child, and who will serve as trustee for any trust created for that child by the will. The will should be flexible enough to accommodate the possible birth of future children.

Execute this will before the child is born: While you can still execute a will after your child is born, you likely have a hundred other things to do, and doing them with two hours less sleep. Get the will done before you give birth.

2. You are thinking about divorce.

This one, too, should be obvious — but the timing might be surprising: Do it ASAP … before you file for divorce. Remember that your spouse has marital rights to a portion of your estate if you die without completing the divorce proceeding. And once you file for divorce you often can’t change your will until the divorce is finalized.

Executing the will before you commence the divorce ensures that your spouse will not receive all of your money if you die before the divorce is complete.

3. You have gotten divorced.

4. Your child gets married.

An older parent is a wiser parent, and you may know more about your future ex-son-in-law and future ex-daughter-in-law than your child knows. But your current will likely addresses issues that applied when your child was an infant, meaning it does not address your child’s possible divorce. You may be able to mitigate the lack of a prenuptial agreement by creating trusts in your will and including post-nuptial requirements before you child can receive any estate distributions.

Create this will immediately after your child gets married, since (a) the marriage may never happen, and (b) if you do happen to die before the marriage, anything you leave your child is not considered marital assets in most states.

5. Your beneficiary develops creditor or substance abuse problems.

6. Your named executors or beneficiaries die.

If your estate plan named individual people to manage your estate or receive any remaining funds and those people are no longer alive you may have to update your will. Your old will may name contingency plans or leave undistributed funds to the deceased person’s children, but you may want to re-evaluate this decision.

7. Your young family member becomes a responsible adult.

Your old will likely named your spouse or parent as your first executor, then perhaps your sibling or a friend. Now everyone is three or more decades older (or deceased), and your younger family member may be up to the task of handling your estate affairs more expediently than your past choices.

Don’t rush to this decision: While some older individuals don’t have too many good choices over younger trusted friends or family members, making a rushed choice may affect several people.

8. New legislation is passed.

Make sure to ask your attorney every few years if there have been any new laws that are relevant to your estate planning.

9. You come into a windfall of money.

If you finally get that huge payday from the scratch-off ticket you bought, or inherit money, consider updating your will so you can ensure proper tax planning. For example, you may want to start gifting money to younger family members’ 529 college savings plans, or create a donor advised fund to both shield some money from taxes and leave a nice legacy to a cause you believe in. Also, you may want to reconsider when and how much money you are leaving to certain people or charities.

10. You can’t find your original will.

Wills are the product of hundreds of years of Anglo-American jurisprudence. Think parchment and barristers wearing powder and wigs. A formal, original will matters, and photocopies are very difficult to validate. If you can’t find your will, or if you agreed to have your attorney hold onto your original will and now don’t want to deal with him or her, make sure you replace that will with a new, original one that explicitly states it invalidated all prior wills. Do this as soon as possible.

11. You buy property in another country or move to another country.

Plenty of countries have treaties with the United States allowing for reciprocity of wills: Your will drafted in French when you were stationed in France is likely valid in the United States. But transferring property in one country may be delayed if the will must be probated in the other country first. Consider having a different will for each country you own property in.

12. Your family and friends become enemies.

Few things can derail your planning more than parties who don’t get along. The problems with animosity between parties in your will are compounded when one party is your family and the other is your friend. Only your nearest family members can easily fight your will, since your “next-of-kin” are required parties to your probate (even if you fully disinherit them), while your friends have no default rights.

If you think your family will try to take a legal right hook to your best friend’s bequest in your will, consider adding a No Contest Clause that will serve to disinherit the aggressive family member if he tries to attack your friend.

 

Read more related articles at:

When Should You Redo Your Will?

8 Reasons You May Need to Update Your Will

Also, Read one of our previous Blogs at:

When it comes to a will or estate plan, don’t just set it and forget it. You need to keep them updated.

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

intestate

Your Parent Didn’t Have A Will: What Should You Do Now?

Your Parent Didn’t Have A Will: What Should You Do Now?

  • Make a diligent search for a will. Look through your parent’s records and file cabinets, talk to their close friends and other relatives, ask their accountant and any lawyer they worked with in the past. Look around the house for business cards of lawyers, accountants or financial advisors. They may have gone to a lawyer and not told you about the appointment. I cannot tell you how many times a client has told me, “I have a will, but it’s old.” Wills are not like cartons of milk; they don’t have expiration dates. If you have found an “old will” – and it was not revoked by your parent – it is the will that will be probated.
  • Check to see if mom or dad had a safe deposit box. The will may be in the safe deposit box. This poses a particular challenge because the authority to get into the safe deposit box may be in the box. If you are fortunate, mom or dad will have named you as a signatory on the box and you will be able to access it. If not, you will have to adhere to your state’s laws in order to gain access to the box. Some states allow you to bring a special petition to gain access to the box. Other states will require a full probate petition in order to gain access.
  • Gather a list of your parent’s assets, financial statements and tax returns. It is particularly helpful to have financial statements covering the date of death. If mom died on March 19, you should gather up all of the financial statements that cover the entire month of March. Date of death values of assets will be needed for probate and estate tax returns. Financial statements will often indicate ownership of the account. If there was a joint owner of the account, the ownership will most likely pass to the surviving joint owner and probate of that asset may not be needed. The same is true if the account had a “POD” – Payable on Death – listed. The asset gets paid on death to that named person listed and avoids probate.
  • Make an appointment with a lawyer. This can be your parent’s lawyer, your lawyer or a new lawyer you have been referred to by a trusted advisor. Just because dad used his old college buddy for his legal needs does not mean that you have to use that same lawyer to administer his estate. If you are the person in charge of dealing with the estate, you can hire whatever attorney you like to advise you. I caution you not to use the lawyer who helped with the purchase of your home or handled your best friend’s divorce to assist with the estate. Hire someone who has experience with trusts and estates law. You wouldn’t go to a dermatologist to perform your heart surgery. Likewise, you should not hire a real estate lawyer to administer your mother’s estate.

The lawyer will review the information you have gathered and will advise you what next steps are needed. At this stage, a lawyer is generally looking to see if probate will be necessary. If all of the assets were owned jointly with a surviving joint owner or had a named beneficiary, there may be no need to probate. In most states, the ownership passes by operation of law to the surviving joint owner or the named beneficiary. This is often the case with life insurance, IRA’s and 401K’s. If, however, there is an asset in mom’s name alone, such as a home or a bank account, probate will be needed for that asset. Since there is no will, you will need to bring a petition under the laws of the state where mom died (or where she owned assets) asking the court to appoint you as Personal Representative (or Administrator) of the estate. This is called an intestate estate, which means mom or dad died without a will. The beneficiaries will then be determined by state law, which dictates who inherits the money.

Of course, most of this can be avoided if your parent creates an estate plan, including a will, before they die. Unfortunately, just like we didn’t always listen to their advice when we were growing up, they often do not listen to ours.
Read more related articles here:

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE DIES WITHOUT A WILL?

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Does it Mean to Die Intestate?

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

Click here for a short informative video from our own Attorney Bill O’Leary.

 

contesting a will

If You’re Left out of a Will, You Can Contest It

Contesting a Will

When a loved one dies with a will, their will lays out who shall receive their property, and which person (called the executor) will be in charge of settling the estate. For many reasons, beneficiaries can feel slighted by what they did or didn’t receive, and some individuals are entirely excluded from inheriting anything at all. The legal process of challenging the validity of a will is called a will contest (or “contesting the will”).

Once probate is underway, the named executor will take the necessary steps to complete probate and notify beneficiaries named in the will. This legal notice typically limits the time when a beneficiary can contest the validity of the will. Generally, a beneficiary (and even a person not named in the will) has thirty to ninety days to bring legal action against the decedent’s will.

Know that the vast majority of wills pass through probate without issue. The courts rightly view the will like the author’s (testator), last voice. Because the testator can no longer speak to their wishes, the courts try to adhere to the legally filed will stringently. Because of the narrow timeline for filing a will contest and the odds stacked against winning the legal challenge, most challengers will find it a fruitless and costly endeavor.

Under what circumstances then would you want to contest a will? Legally, only a person or entity with “standing” can contest a will. Standing is when the party involved in the will contest will be personally affected by the case’s outcome. Most often, this means an heir or beneficiary already named in the decedent’s last will or any preceding will. It may also include any person (usually a spouse or child) not named in the will, but because of state intestacy laws would be eligible to inherit in the absence of a will. Typically, four grounds are viable for contesting a will:

  • The will’s signing lacked the proper legal formalities
  • The mental capacity of the decedent to make a will is in question
  • Someone leveraging undue influence over the decedent into making or changing a will
  • The will’s procurement is fraudulent

Certain fact patterns may lead to a successful will contest. As an example, if a testator writes their own will, some legal formalities may be overlooked, rendering the will invalid. In particular, the “do it yourself” method for creating a will may not include all of the “what if” scenarios making the will incomplete. In another example, if the testator is experiencing isolation from family and friends, the primary beneficiary’s influence and motives regarding the estate may come into question. If the executor is trying to enforce an outdated will, the newer one should supersede the older one as long as no coercion was involved in writing the most recent version. Finally, some medical evidence may suggest the testator lacked the requisite mental ability to make a will. Occasionally the challenger to an existing will can negotiate a settlement with the estate instead of enduring a court proceeding.

Some wills include a no-contest clause, also called an “in terrorem” clause. This provision states that if anyone files a lawsuit challenging the will’s validity, they will receive nothing from the estate. While this may a powerful deterrent, it may not be allowed in the state where the will is probated.

To protect your will from being contested, even if you have limited assets, your best strategy is to have your will professionally drafted by an attorney well versed in estate planning. Using an attorney can help protect you and your estate from future legal challenges while helping you think through who you want to inherit your money and property, and how each person should receive what they inherit.

If you would like to discuss whether a will is appropriate for you or whether you should update an existing will, we would be happy to speak to you at your convenience.

Read more related articles at:

 

https://www.policygenius.com/wills/contesting-a-will/

 

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/pf/12/left-out-of-the-will.asp

 

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

What Happens If You Die Without a Last Will and Testament?

Estate Battle with Millions at Stake in New Orleans

Estate Battle with Millions at Stake in New Orleans

Jessica Fussell Brandt filed an eviction petition against her daughter, Julie Hartline, her son-in-law Darryl Hartline and two grandchildren, Alexis and Zachary Hartline. She is pitted against them in a legal fight over an estate valued at more than $300 million, reports nola.com in the article “In Ray Brandt estate battle, widow tries to evict family from Old Metairie compound.”

Before auto magnate Ray Brandt died at age 72 from pancreatic cancer, the entire family shared a compound that includes two mansions located next to the Metairie Country Club. Brandt has been trying to sell the property which belongs to the estate, as its executrix. The family members living there don’t want to move, even taking down “For Sale” signs from the lawn.

Her attempt to evict them comes after she won a case in her attempt to maintain control of her late husband’s estate, which includes a large number of auto dealerships and collision centers across Louisiana and Mississippi.

On January 25, a Jefferson Parish judge invalidated the last will and testament that Ray Brandt signed just weeks before his death and another last will drafted in 2015. The district judge ruled that both last wills contained a flaw in how they were notarized: neither notarization specified that Ray Brandt, the witnesses, and the notary were together when it was signed.

The decision is being appealed, but it appears to leave the fate of Brandt’s empire to a last will he made in 2010. Unlike the others, this last will places Jessica Brandt in full control of his estate and trust, including the auto dealerships, until her death.

Ultimately, Ray Brandt directed that her grandchildren, who he legally adopted as adults before he died, would split the estate’s assets.

Despite issuing a statement saying that Jessica was “pleased with the prospect beginning the healing process,” after the Jefferson Parish decision, the eviction filing revealed that Jessica’s attorneys sent an email urging family members to leave the property by January 31, 2021.

Jessica made a statement that her wish to evict family members was a result of the multiple citations issued by Jefferson Parish for continuing violations at the compound. The latest one was for a trailer and mud buggy parked in a driveway on a vacant lot. She also said that the family members own two other homes, one in Metairie and one in Fort Beauregard.

The compound where the family settled seven years ago is estimated to be worth more than $8 million.

The heart of the dispute pits Jessica Brandt against Archbishop Rummel High School principal Marc Milano, who Ray Brandt named as a trustee to oversee the auto group and the rest of the estate until Jessica Brandt dies. Milano has accused Jessica of taking money from the estate and trying to claim an ownership interest in the dealership. She sued him for defamation.

Now the grandchildren have filed their own legal action, challenging a petition to put Ray Brandt’s last will into effect. Their argument is the trust that Ray Brandt set up in 2015 makes it clear that he meant for Milano to oversee the assets.

This estate battle will no doubt keep the Jefferson Parish courts and newspapers busy for some time. It’s a lesson to keep your family’s business private, by ensuring that your estate plan is properly prepared and up to date.

Reference: nola.com (Feb. 3, 2021) “In Ray Brandt estate battle, widow tries to evict family from Old Metairie compound”

Read more related articles at:

Fate of Ray Brandt’s auto empire in doubt amid roiling family squabble over estate

‘Stop all of this!’ Ray Brandt’s widow bemoans the family battle over his massive estate

In Ray Brandt estate battle, widow tries to evict family from Old Metairie compound

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Celebrity Estates: Battle Over Inheritances

Click here to check out our On Demand Video about Estate Planning.

What Does Entertainer Chadwick Boseman’s Estate Look Like?

What Does Entertainer Chadwick Boseman’s Estate Look Like?

What Does Entertainer Chadwick Boseman’s Estate Look Like? Chadwick Boseman passed away in late August after a four-year battle with colon cancer. He died without a will, and his estate is estimated at $938,500, according to papers filed in Los Angeles County probate court.

Boseman is best known for the movie “Black Panther,” as well as “42,” “Get on Up” and “Marshall.” He appeared earlier this year in Spike Lee’s “Da Five Bloods.”

USA Today’s recent article entitled “Chadwick Boseman’s wife seeks to administer estate of ‘Black Panther’ star, who died with no will” reports that in the court papers, Boseman’s wife, Simone Ledward (referred to in the documents by her legal name, Taylor Simone Ledward), asked to be appointed administrator with limited authority over the actor’s estate.

When there is no will to designate an executor, state law or a judge will make that determination. Most states say that the surviving spouse or registered domestic partner, if any, is the first choice. An adult child is then usually next on the list, followed by other family members.

If there’s no will, state law will direct what happens to property. If the deceased person was married, the surviving spouse typically gets the largest share.

Distant relatives inherit, only if there is no surviving spouse and if there are no children. If no relatives can be found, the state gets the assets.

In addition to Ledward, the actor is survived by his parents, Leroy and Carolyn Boseman, who are also named in the papers. Boseman’s family, including Ledward, were by his side when he died at his Los Angeles home.

According to People, Boseman and Ledward became engaged in 2019 and their last public appearance together was at the NBA All-Star Game in February in Chicago.

Boseman paid tribute to his wife during an acceptance speech at the 2019 NAACP Image Awards. “Simone, you’re with me every day. I have to acknowledge you right now. Love you.” Ledward blew him a kiss and mouthed back the words, “I love you.”

Reference: USA Today (Oct. 16, 2020) “Chadwick Boseman’s wife seeks to administer estate of ‘Black Panther’ star, who died with no will”

Read more related articles at :

‘Black Panther’ star Chadwick Boseman died without a will. Here’s why you should have an estate plan

Did ‘The Gambler’ Have Estate Planning?

Did ‘The Gambler’ Have Estate Planning?

An article from Wealth Advisor entitled “What Kenny Rogers Leaves Behind After Four Divorces And Restaurant Armageddon,” says that he was a hit machine, racking up an estimated $250 million through extensive touring, TV appearances, and constant radio play.

Rogers was a singer, songwriter, actor, record producer and entrepreneur.

He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2013 and charted more than 120 hit singles.  He topped the country and pop album charts for more than 200 individual weeks in the U.S. alone. He sold more than 100 million records worldwide during his lifetime, making him one of the best-selling music artists of all time.

However, Rogers may not have left a lot of that money behind. He built a 425-restaurant chain in the 1990s that should have been his retirement plan. However, those restaurants closed everywhere, except in Asia. He had no licensing fees for use of the name, so there’s no revenue for his heirs.

The issue is whether Rogers accumulated sufficient wealth in life to support the lifestyles of his family. He left a wife (his fifth) and five adult kids behind. Kenny paid out $60 million to settle his fourth divorce in 1993, which was half his fortune.

While it was a while after his commercial peak, he started working on a smaller scale and married again, raising his two youngest kids. Kenny continued to tour and record, but his health became an issue. He decided the 2017 tour would be his last— and he was forced to cancel that one as well.

Kenny most likely only had whatever cash he set aside in conventional investment accounts, working real estate and other retirement assets. It’s unclear how much that was, but it’s probably enough to keep his widow comfortable for the rest of her life. That’s another challenge with late marriages. Roger died at 81, and wife No. 5 is just 57.

So, in theory, she needs those assets to last another 40 years to maintain her lifestyle.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (March 23, 2020) “What Kenny Rogers Leaves Behind After Four Divorces And Restaurant Armageddon”

Read more related articles at :

What Kenny Rogers Leaves Behind After Four Divorces And Restaurant Armageddon

Kenny Rogers’ Net Worth: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Also, read one of our previous blogs at:

Did Little Richard Have a Smart Estate Plan?

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