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Estate Plan Covid-19

What are the Most Important Items in an Estate Plan During the Pandemic?

What are the Most Important Items in an Estate Plan During the Pandemic?

KCRA’s article entitled“5 things to know about estate planning” says that estate planning is a topic that people frequently don’t like to think about. However, more people now want to create a will or revise one that’s already in existence, because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

You should have a will. You can find forms online, or you can (in some states) use a holographic will, which is handwritten. However, a holographic will can be incomplete and unclear. DIY estate planning isn’t a good idea if you have any property, minor children, or want to save on taxes for your family. Use an experienced estate planning attorney to ensure that you are covering all of your bases.

Without a will, your “state” makes one for you. If you die intestate, state law will dictate how your probate estate will be distributed at your death. However, this makes it take longer to administer your estate, which extends the grieving process for family members.  It is also more expensive, more time-consuming and more work for those you leave behind. Lastly, you have no say in how you want your property distributed.

Why do I need a will? Everyone should think about estate planning and have an estate plan in place. This should include what would happen, if you’re incapacitated. With the coronavirus pandemic, this might mean contracting the disease and being in a hospital on a ventilator for weeks and unable to care for your children.

How long does a will take? Drafting your will is a very personal and customized process that usually happens over several meetings with a qualified estate planning attorney. It could be weeks or months, but the average length of time it takes to create a will is 30 to 60 days. However, in the midst of the pandemic, estate planning attorneys are able to get these completed much more quickly, when necessary.

What about COVID-19? When your will is complete, there’s usually a signing meeting set with the attorney, witnesses, a notary and the person creating the will. However, now there’s no way to safely gather to sign these critical documents. Many states have made exceptions to the witness rule or are allowing processes using technology, known as remote notarization.

Reference: KCRA (April 16, 2020). “5 things to know about estate planning”

Read more related articles at:

The Covid-19 Essential Estate Planning “Go Package”

A Guide To Estate Planning During The Coronavirus Pandemic

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at:

Requests for Estate Plans Reflect Fears about Coronavirus

Click here to check out our Master Class!

 

Carole Baskins

What is the Verdict on the Will of Carole Baskin’s Long-Missing Husband?

What is the Verdict on the Will of Carole Baskin’s Long-Missing Husband?

Hillsborough County (FL) Sheriff Chad Chronister recently announced that two different experts have deemed Don Lewis’ will in the Tiger King-Joe Exotic saga “100 percent a forgery,” Tampa Bay CBS station WTSP reported.

“We knew that before,” Chronister said. “Because the girl who came forward and said ‘Hey, I was forced to witness and say that I witnessed this signature.’ The problem was the statute of limitations had already expired. The will had already been executed at that point.”

People’s recent article entitled “Will of Carole Baskin’s Missing Husband Was ‘100 Percent a Forgery,’ Says County Sheriff” reported that Sheriff Chronister also said that the “only reason” a lawsuit hasn’t been initiated, is because the statute of limitations has run out.

“There’s no recourse,” the sheriff explained. “A judge deemed it valid, so the civil side of it would be execution of the will, the disbursements of the funds is one thing. But then you have the criminal side of it, it’s unable to be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.”

The sheriff added that the determination that Don Lewis’ will was deemed a forgery “certainly cast another shadow of suspicion” on his disappearance.

“Investigators have some great leads, they’re working through them. I hope something pans out,” Chronister commented.

Fans of the Netflix docuseries Tiger King remember that Baskin’s previous husband mysteriously went missing in 1997 and was declared dead five years later. Some fans of the TV show think that Baskin was responsible for Lewis’ disappearance, but the Big Cat Rescue founder denied she had anything to do with it.

“Don was not easy to live with and like most couples, we had our moments,” Baskin said in a statement on the Big Cat Rescue website after Tiger King was released on Netflix earlier this year. “But I never threatened him, and I certainly had nothing to do with his disappearance. When he disappeared, I did everything I could to assist the police. I encouraged them to check out the rumors from Costa Rica, and separately I hired a private investigator.”

Sheriff Chronister’s comments come a day after Baskin was granted control of the Oklahoma zoo property formerly operated by Joseph Maldonado-Passage, widely known as “Joe Exotic.” He was convicted last year of paying a hitman $3,000 to kill Baskin, in addition to being found guilty on multiple charges of violating both the Lacey Act for falsifying wildlife records and the Endangered Species Act. Exotic was sentenced to 22 years in prison and is currently being held in a Dallas-Fort Worth medical center, after he was exposed to the coronavirus.

Reference: People (June 3, 2020) “Will of Carole Baskin’s Missing Husband Was ‘100 Percent a Forgery,’ Says County Sheriff”

Read more Related Articles at:

Will of ‘Tiger King’ star Carole Baskin’s missing husband forged, Chronister says

Will of ‘Tiger King’ star Carole Baskin’s missing husband was forged, sheriff says

Also, read one of our previous blogs at :

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

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!

 

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

 

covid estate planning

How Can Estate Planning Protect Me from COVID-19?

There are several things you need to consider, when it comes to estate planning,

There are several things you need to consider, when it comes to estate planning, explains WFMY.com in the recent article “A different kind of coronavirus protection: Wills & Power of Attorney documents.”

A financial power of attorney is first on the list of things to consider. This essential legal document gives a trusted agent the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf, if you become incapacitated. A financial power of attorney can go into effect whenever you want. However, most people have their estate planning attorney draft the POA to go into effect, once the principal or the person who’s giving the authority can no longer make decisions for themselves.

In addition, if you become ill and fall into a coma, you need someone to be able to also make medical decisions. A health care power of attorney permits your agent to make medical decisions on your behalf. You can also sign a living will, which can state your wishes about healthcare decisions, especially end of life decisions.

A will can state your decisions for the distribution of your assets when you die. However, your property will stay in your name until that occurs. Another option is a living trust, which places your property in a trust for the benefit of a charity, your loved ones, or both. A trust may distribute the property more efficiently.

While the terms in your will and trust are important, you should also have a discussion with your family and let them know what you’re thinking. This will help avoid hard feelings after you’re gone.

It’s important to speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and talk to the people you want to be your POA attorney-in-fact, executor of your will and your trustee. Talk to your attorney about what happens when one of these key persons included in your planning dies.

You should also think about your parents and if they have an estate plan. You should know what will happen, if they become ill and need care. What happens if they get Alzheimer’s or another type of dementia?

You should make certain that you and those you love, have legal estate planning documents in place prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney.

From there, review your plan every few years with your attorney, because things change.

Reference: WFMY.com (April 22, 2020) “A different kind of coronavirus protection: Wills & Power of Attorney document

Read more related Articles at :

Impact of COVID-19 on Estate Planning

Estate Planning and COVID-19: Four Must-Have Documents for Protection During a Crisis

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at :

Requests for Estate Plans Reflect Fears about Coronavirus

 

 

incapacity 3

What Can I Do to Plan for Incapacity?

 

What Can I Do to Plan for Incapacity?

Smart advance planning can help preserve family assets, provide for your own well-being and eliminate the stress and publicity of a guardianship hearing, which might be needed if you do nothing.

A guardianship or conservatorship for an elderly individual is a legal relationship created when a judge appoints a person to care for an elderly person, who’s no longer able to care for herself.

The guardian has specific duties and responsibilities to the elderly person.

FEDweek’s recent article entitled “Guarding Against the Possibility of Your Incapacity” discusses several possible strategies.

Revocable (“living”) trust. Even after you transfer assets into the trust, you still have the ability to control those assets and collect any income they earn. If you no longer possess the ability to manage your own affairs, a co-trustee or successor trustee can assume management of trust assets on your behalf.

Durable power of attorney. A power of attorney (POA) document names an individual to manage your assets that aren’t held in trust. Another option is to have your estate planning attorney draft powers of attorney for financial institutions that hold assets, like a pension or IRA. Note that many financial firms are reticent to recognize powers of attorney that are not on their own forms.

Joint accounts. You can also establish a joint checking account with a trusted child or other relative. With her name on the account, your daughter can then pay your bills, if necessary. However, note that the assets held in the joint account will pass to the co-owner (daughter) at your death, even if you name other heirs in your will.

There may also be health care expenses accompanying incompetency.

This would include your health insurance and also potentially disability insurance in the event your incapacity should happen when you are still be working, and long-term care insurance, to pay providers of custodial care, at home or in a specialized facility, such as a nursing home.

Reference: FEDweek (March 5, 2020) “Guarding Against the Possibility of Your Incapacity”

Read More Related articles at:

Legal Planning for Incapacity

Estate Planning: You Need an Incapacity Plan that Works When It’s Needed

Also, read one of our previous blogs at :

How Do I Plan for My Incapacity?

 

 

New Baby

Do I Need an Estate Plan with a New Child in the Family?

When a child is born or adopted, the parents are excited to think about what lies ahead. However, in addition to all the other new-parent tasks on the list, parents must also address a more depressing task: making an estate plan.

When a child comes into the picture, it’s important for new parents to take the responsible step of making a plan, says Motley Fool’s recent article entitled “As a New Parent, I Took These 3 Estate Planning Steps.”

Life insurance. To be certain that there’s money available for your child’s care and to fund a college education, parents can buy life insurance. You can purchase a term life insurance policy that’s less expensive than a whole-life policy and you’ll only need the coverage until the child is grown.

Create a will. A will does more than just let you direct who should inherit if you die. It gives you control over what happens to the money you leave to your child. If you were to pass and he wasn’t yet an adult, someone would need to manage the money left to him or her. If you don’t have a will, the court may name a guardian for the funds, and the child might inherit with no strings attached at 18. How many 18-year-olds are capable of managing money that’s designed to help them in the future?

Speak to an experienced lawyer to get help making sure your will is valid and that you’re taking a smart approach to protecting your child’s inheritance.

Designate a guardian. If you don’t name an individual to serve as your child’s guardian, a custody fight could happen. As a result, a judge may decide who will raise your children. Be sure that you name someone, so your child is cared for by people you’ve selected, not someone a judge assigns. Have your attorney make provisions in your will to name a guardian, in case something should happen. This is one step as a new parent that’s critical. Be sure to speak with whomever you’re asking to be your child’s guardian and make sure he or she is okay with raising your children if you can’t.

Estate planning may not be exciting, but it’s essential for parents.

Contact a qualified estate planning attorney to create a complete estate plan to help your new family.

Reference: Motley Fool (Feb. 23, 2020) “As a New Parent, I Took These 3 Estate Planning Steps”

Read more related Articles at:

Estate Planning 101: 5 Lessons for New Parents

Estate Planning for New Parents

Also Read one of our previous Blogs at:

Should I Use a Trust to Protect My Children’s Inheritance?

 

 

Guardianship

What Should I Know about Guardianship?

What Should I Know about Guardianship?

In a perfect world, a child would be raised by its parents. However, this isn’t always possible, and legally enforceable decisions must sometimes be made to name the person who is best positioned to look after a child.

Guardianship is generally only needed when a person is incapable—whether legally or practically—of looking after their own affairs, says VENTS Magazine in the article “Legal Guardianship 101: What You Need to Know.”

Courts have the power to appoint guardians for adults and children. This is usually a person who is unable to make decisions for themselves.

It may be a disabled person, and guardians are appointed for children when parents consent to it, when their parental rights are removed by a court, or when both parents are dead or permanently incapacitated.

Guardians have duties as to both the protected person and their estate. The duties to the person include providing necessities, education and appropriate medical treatment, where necessary. As far as the estate of the protected person, the duties are to manage any funds properly and to spend them, pursuant to the protected person’s needs. Guardians must prepare an inventory of assets within 60 days of their appointment to the role.

Custody is only granted for children. When appointed, a custodian is given parental rights over the child. Guardianship does not bestow these rights.

A guardian is appointed to take care of a protected person and to safeguard their estate. Biological parents, if alive, keep their parental rights over the child.

To become a guardian, you must file a petition with the court. There will be a hearing on your application. You must present proof (from a doctor, for example) that guardianship is necessary under the circumstances.

Guardianship litigation can eb stressful, but it is frequently necessary, so engage an attorney to help you.

Reference: VENTS Magazine (April 13, 2020) “Legal Guardianship 101: What You Need to Know”

Read some related articles at :

What You Should Know About Guardianship

5 Ways To Know You Need A Guardianship For Mom (Or Dad)

Also, read one of our previous Blogs at : 

How is a Guardianship Determined?

 

 

Family Estate Planning

Am I Making One of the Five Common Estate Planning Mistakes?

You don’t have to be super-wealthy to see the benefits from a well-prepared estate plan. However, you must make sure the plan is updated regularly, so these kinds of mistakes don’t occur and hurt the people you love most, reports Kiplinger in its article entitled “Is Anything Wrong with Your Estate Plan? Here are 5 Common Mistakes.”

An estate plan contains legal documents that will provide clarity about how you’d like your wishes executed, both during your life and after you die. There are three key documents:

  • A will
  • A durable power of attorney for financial matters
  • A health care power of attorney or similar document

In the last two of these documents, you appoint someone you trust to help make decisions involving your finances or health, in case you can’t while you’re still living. Let’s look at five common mistakes in estate planning:

# 1: No Estate Plan Whatsoever. A will has specific information about who will receive your money, property and other property. It’s important for people, even with minimal assets. If you don’t have a will, state law will determine who will receive your assets. Dying without a will (or “intestate”) entails your family going through a time-consuming and expensive process that can be avoided by simply having a will.

A will can also include several other important pieces of information that can have a significant impact on your heirs, such as naming a guardian for your minor children and an executor to carry out the business of closing your estate and distributing your assets. Without a will, these decisions will be made by a probate court.

# 2: Forgetting to Name or Naming the Wrong Beneficiaries. Some of your assets, like retirement accounts and life insurance policies, aren’t normally controlled by your will. They pass directly without probate to the beneficiaries you designate. To ensure that the intended person inherits these assets, a specific person or trust must be designated as the beneficiary for each account.

# 3: Wrong Joint Title. Married couples can own assets jointly, but they may not know that there are different types of joint ownership, such as the following:

  • Joint Tenants with Rights of Survivorship (JTWROS) means that, if one joint owner passes away, then the surviving joint owners (their spouse or partner) automatically inherits the deceased owner’s part of the asset. This transfer of ownership bypasses a will entirely.
  • Tenancy in Common (TIC) means that each joint owner has a separately transferrable share of the asset. Each owner’s will says who gets the share at their death.

# 4: Not Funding a Revocable Living Trust. A living trust lets you put assets in a trust with the ability to freely move assets in and out of it, while you’re alive. At death, assets continue to be held in trust or are distributed to beneficiaries, which is set by the terms of the trust. The most common error made with a revocable living trust is failure to retitle or transfer ownership of assets to the trust. This critical task is often overlooked after the effort of drafting the trust document is done. A trust is of no use if it doesn’t own any assets.

# 5: The Right Time to Name a Trust as a Beneficiary of an IRA. The new SECURE Act, which went into effect on January 1, 2020 gets rid of what’s known as the stretch IRA. This allowed non-spouses who inherited retirement accounts to stretch out disbursements over their lifetimes. It let assets in retirement accounts continue their tax-deferred growth over many years. However, the new Act requires a full payout from the inherited IRA within 10 years of the death of the original account holder, in most cases, when a non-spouse individual is the beneficiary.

Therefore, it may not be a good idea to name a trust as the beneficiary of a retirement account. It’s possible that either distributions from the IRA may not be allowed when a beneficiary would like to take one, or distributions will be forced to take place at a bad time and the beneficiary will be hit with unnecessary taxes. Talk to an experienced estate planning attorney and review your estate plans to make certain that the new SECURE Act provisions don’t create unintended consequences.

Reference: Kiplinger (Feb. 20, 2020) “Is Anything Wrong with Your Estate Plan? Here are 5 Common Mistakes”

Read more related articles at:

5 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes You Can Make

Is Anything Wrong with Your Estate Plan? Here are 5 Common Mistakes

Also read one of our Previous Blogs at:

Common Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid

 

 

Keep Inheritance Safe

Can I Keep a Loved One’s Inheritance From Their Spouse?

Can I Keep a Loved One’s Inheritance From Their Spouse?

A recent nj.com article asks, “How do I protect my niece’s inheritance from her husband?” The article says that in a scenario where someone plans to leave most of her estate to her niece but doesn’t want her estranged husband to get his hands on the money, she must be proactive to make sure the funds go where she intends them to go.

If this happens in New Jersey, the niece’s inheritance will be subject to the New Jersey inheritance tax. The tax is levied based on the relationship of the deceased to the beneficiary. In this case, the niece’s inheritance would be subject to an inheritance tax of 15 to 16%.

This inheritance tax is assessed, because the aunt is a New Jersey resident. It doesn’t matter where the beneficiary resides.

One option is for the aunt to leave the assets to the niece outright or in trust.

The laws in many states, like Missouri, South Carolina, and New Jersey, say that unless the parties otherwise agree, upon divorce there will be equitable distribution of their marital property. Marital property generally doesn’t include the property received by gift or inheritance, as long as that person didn’t co-mingle it with the marital property.

Therefore, the most economical way to transfer property to the niece, is to leave it to her in the testator’s will, with instructions for her to keep it separate and apart from her marital property.

An outright bequest may not be the best way to leave property to the niece, even though it’s probably the most economical method for the aunt.

However, if the aunt leaves the inheritance in trust, she’ll make certain the property isn’t commingled with marital assets.

Further, if the trust is properly prepared by an experienced estate planning attorney, the income from the trust will likely not be used to decrease any support to which the niece may otherwise be entitled from her spouse, in the event that they divorce down the road. The trust can also protect against other events, by instructing to whom funds should be paid upon the premature death of the niece. That would further prevent her estranged husband from ever being able to make a claim against the funds. hopefully this answers the question: Can I Keep a Loved One’s Inheritance From Their Spouse?

Reference: nj.com (August 21, 2019) “How do I protect my niece’s inheritance from her husband?”

Read more related articles at:

How to Protect Your Child’s Inheritance From Their Spouse

What Can I Do to Protect my Children’s Inheritance from Potential Divorce?

Also read one of our previous Blogs at:

Can I Protect an Inheritance During Marriage?

 

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