Probate Avoidance

Monday, November 7, 2016

The Cost of an Unprepared Estate


Prince George Citizen has recently published an article entitled, "The Cost of an Unprepared Estate" (Oct 17, 2016). Provided below is a brief summary to the article:

The Cost of an Unprepared Estate

British Columbia has more people turning 50 years old today than at any other time in history.


Read more . . .


Monday, July 20, 2015

What would happen if another child is born after establishing an estate plan?

This question presents a fairly common issue posed to estate planning attorneys. The solution is also pretty easy to address in your will, trust and other estate planning documents, including any guardianship appointment for your minor children.

First, its important to note that you should not delay establishing an estate plan pending the birth of a new child.  In fact, if your planning is done right you most likely will not need to modify your estate plan after a new child is born.  The problem with waiting is that you cannot know what tomorrow will bring and you could die, or become incapacitated and not having any type of plan is a bad idea. 

In terms of how an estate plan can provide for “after-born” children, there are a few drafting techniques that can address this issue.  For example, in your will, it would refer to your current children typically by name and their date of birth. Then, your will would provide that any reference to the term "your children" would include any children born to you, or adopted by you, after the date you sign your will.

In addition, in the section or article of your will that provides how your estate and assets will be divided, it could simply provide that your estate and assets will be divided into separate and equal shares, one each for "your children." That would mean that whatever children you have at the time of your death would receive a share and thus the will would work as you intend, even if you did not amend it after having a new child. 

On a side note, you should make certain that your plan does not give the children their share of your estate outright while they are still young.  Rather, your will or living trust should provide that the assets and money are held in a trust structure until they are reach a certain age or achieve certain milestones such as college graduation or marriage. Any good estate planning attorney should be able to advise you about this and help walk you through the various options you have available to you.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Business Succession Planning Tips

Business succession plans contemplate and instruct regarding any changes in future ownership and management of a business. Most business owners know they should think about succession planning, but few actually end up doing so. It is hard to think about not being in charge of the business you have built up, but a proper succession plan can ensure that your business continues long after you are there to run it, providing an enduring legacy.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you begin to think about putting a succession plan into place for your business.

  • Proper plans take time - often years - to develop and implement because there are many steps involved. It is really never too early to start thinking about how you want to hand off control of your business.

  • Succession plans are a waste of time unless they are more than a piece of paper. Involving attorneys, accountants and business advisors ensures that your plan is actually implemented.

  • There is no cookie-cutter succession plan that fits all businesses, and no one way to develop and implement a successful plan. Each business is unique, so each business needs a custom-made plan that fits the needs of all parties involved.

  • It may seem counterintuitive, but transferring a business between people who are familiar with the business - from one family member to another, or between business partners - is often more complicated than selling the business to a complete stranger. Emotional investments cannot be easily quantified, but their importance is real. Having a neutral party at the negotiating table can help everyone involved focus on what is best for the business and the people that are depending on it for their livelihood.

  • Once a succession plan has been established, it is critically important that the completed plan be continually reviewed and updated as circumstances change. This is one of the biggest reasons having an attorney on your succession planning team is important. Sound legal counsel can assist you in making periodic adjustments and maintaining an effective succession plan.

If you are ready to start thinking about succession planning, contact an experienced business law attorney today.


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

When Boomers Inherit, Complications May Follow

Fran Hawthorne (NYTimes.com) has an article published entitled When Boomers Inherit, Complications May Follow” (Feb10, 2014). Provided below is a summary of the article from NYTimes.com:

 

When Boomers Inherit, Complications May Follow

There have never been as many heirs with as much money as now, thanks to the intersection of two demographics: the 79 million baby boomers and the general thriftiness of their Depression-raised parents.

"Inherited money is sacred money," said Rick Kagawa, 61, a financial planner in California who inherited money and property when his mother died in 2010.

"Whatever you do with that money, you should think about your parents and what they would think of what you did."

Often, as with Ms. Cornell, emotional ties make heirs reluctant to alter a penny of their parents' investment strategy or shed a single inch of property.

"We've had clients who wanted to keep a stock that was part of the family's wealth in memory of their parents, even if it's causing a lack of diversification in the portfolio," said Charles D. Haines Jr., chief executive of Kinsight, a financial advisory firm based in Birmingham, Ala., with $500 million under management.

Ms. Bradley of the Sudden Money Institute suggests that instead of trying to memorialize parents by hanging onto their stock portfolio, offspring should "Do something with the money to create a lasting memory." One client, she said, uses the interest from her inheritance to host an annual family reunion.

A picture caption on Tuesday with an article about baby boomers' inheriting their parents' estates misstated the name of the university where the photograph of a Japanese garden was taken.

To read the full article go to "When Boomers Inherit, Complications May Follow" By Fran Hawthorne (NYTimes.com).  


Monday, August 25, 2014

In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First

Caitlin Kelly (NYTimes.com) has published an article entitled In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First” (May 02, 2014). Provided below is a summary of the article from NYTimes.com:

In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First

For older people without children, stepchildren or grandchildren, the decision can be even more complex.

"Our family didn't think of anything but leaving everything to us. The concept of estate planning didn't exist in my parents' lives," said Mr. Carter, who has 40 years' experience as a consultant in philanthropy and fund-raising.

Today, with smaller families and more women choosing not to have children, "The dynamic has changed pretty significantly for the generation of baby boomers. The option of doing something charitably significant with their estates is a change," he said.

Ms. Miranda, a former bank trust officer, now specializes in helping clients plan their wills, trusts and estates.

Mr. Carter said: "My wife and I are planning to give everything away. My kids are O.K." Too often, he says, anticipating inherited wealth creates fighting within the family or can kill or inhibit adult children's ambitions.

"I'm planning on leaving most of my estate to my nephew, who is currently 15," says Meredith Lesley, 58, a Lexington, Mass., resident who is divorced and has no children.

"I may leave a smallish portion to my longtime roommate, who is disabled and has nothing but his monthly disability check and no one else in his life. It's not a romantic relationship, but he's lived here for about 10 years. I also have to figure out what to do about my cat. And I have to think about my things: beads to a friend who is a crafter as well; books to my best friend; ceramics to him as well; electronics to my brother, my nephew's father."

To read the full article go to "In Estate Planning, Family Isn't Always First" By Fran Hawthorne (NYTimes.com).  

 


Monday, August 18, 2014

Eight Common Estate Planing Objectives Of Married Couples

Lewis Saret (Forbes.com) has published an article entitled Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples” (May 13, 2014). Provided below is a summary of the article from Forbes.com:

 

Eight Common Estate Planing Objectives Of Married Couples

If you asked 10 different couples what their estate planning objectives are, you would probably receive 10 different answers.

Upon deeper probing, you would discover that most married couples share the same basic estate planning objectives.

Knowing these objectives help both the couple and their estate planner determine what might be the best way to structure their estate plan. 

The most important estate planning objective for most married couples is to ensure that their loved ones are provided for if one or both spouses become incapacitated or pass away.

To accomplish a couple's estate planning objectives in a cost-effective manner inherently requires that future expenses be taken into consideration as well as the cost and time spent implementing the estate plan.

To read the 8 Common Estate Planning Objectives go to "Eight Common Estate Planning Objectives Of Married Couples" By Lewis Saret (Forbes.com).  

 


Monday, August 11, 2014

Family Business: Preserving Your Legacy for Generations to Come

Your family-owned business is not just one of your most significant assets, it is also your legacy. Both must be protected by implementing a transition plan to arrange for transfer to your children or other loved ones upon your retirement or death.


More than 70 percent of family businesses do not survive the transition to the next generation. Ensuring your family does not fall victim to the same fate requires a unique combination of proper estate and tax planning, business acumen and common-sense communication with those closest to you. Below are some steps you can take today to make sure your family business continues from generation to generation.

  • Meet with an estate planning attorney to develop a comprehensive plan that includes a will and/or living trust. Your estate plan should account for issues related to both the transfer of your assets, including the family business and estate taxes.
  • Communicate with all family members about their wishes concerning the business. Enlist their involvement in establishing a business succession plan to transfer ownership and control to the younger generation. Include in-laws or other non-blood relatives in these discussions. They offer a fresh perspective and may have talents and skills that will help the company.
  • Make sure your succession plan includes:  preserving and enhancing “institutional memory”, who will own the company, advisors who can aid the transition team and ensure continuity, who will oversee day-to-day operations, provisions for heirs who are not directly involved in the business, tax saving strategies, education and training of family members who will take over the company and key employees.
  • Discuss your estate plan and business succession plan with your family members and key employees. Make sure everyone shares the same basic understanding.
  • Plan for liquidity. Establish measures to ensure the business has enough cash flow to pay taxes or buy out a deceased owner’s share of the company. Estate taxes are based on the full value of your estate. If your estate is asset-rich and cash-poor, your heirs may be forced to liquidate assets in order to cover the taxes, thus removing your “family” from the business.
  • Implement a family employment plan to establish policies and procedures regarding when and how family members will be hired, who will supervise them, and how compensation will be determined.
  • Have a buy-sell agreement in place to govern the future sale or transfer of shares of stock held by employees or family members.
  • Add independent professionals to your board of directors.

You’ve worked very hard over your lifetime to build your family-owned enterprise. However, you should resist the temptation to retain total control of your business well into your golden years. There comes a time to retire and focus your priorities on ensuring a smooth transition that preserves your legacy – and your investment – for generations to come.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Should I Transfer My Home to My Children?

Most people are aware that probate should be avoided if at all possible. It is an expensive, time-consuming process that exposes your family’s private matters to public scrutiny via the judicial system. It sounds simple enough to just gift your property to your children while you are still alive, so it is not subject to probate upon your death, or to preserve the asset in the event of significant end-of-life medical expenses.

This strategy may offer some potential benefits, but those benefits are far outweighed by the risks. And with other probate-avoidance tools available, such as living trusts, it makes sense to view the risks and benefits of transferring title to your property through a very critical lens.

Potential Advantages:

  • Property titled in the names of your heirs, or with your heirs as joint tenants, is not subject to probate upon your death.
  • If you do not need nursing home care for the first 60 months after the transfer, but later do need such care, the property in question will not be considered for Medicaid eligibility purposes.
  • If you are named on the property’s title at the time of your death, creditors cannot make a claim against the property to satisfy the debt.
  • Your heirs may agree to pay a portion, or all, of the property’s expenses, including taxes, insurance and maintenance.


Potential Disadvantages:

  • It may jeopardize your ability to obtain nursing home care. If you need such care within 60 months of transferring the property, you can be penalized for the gift and may not be eligible for Medicaid for a period of months or years, or will have to find another source to cover the expenses.
  • You lose sole control over your property. Once you are no longer the legal owner, you must get approval from your children in order to sell or refinance the property.
  • If your child files for bankruptcy, or gets divorced, your child’s creditors or former spouse can obtain a legal ownership interest in the property.
  • If you outlive your child, the property may be transferred to your child’s heirs.
  • Potential negative tax consequences: If property is transferred to your child and is later sold, capital gains tax may be due, as your child will not be able to take advantage of the IRS’s primary residence exclusion. You may also lose property tax exemptions. Finally, when the child ultimately sells the property, he or she may pay a higher capital gains tax than if the property was inherited, since inherited property enjoys a stepped-up tax basis as of the date of death.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to estate planning. Transferring ownership of your property to your children while you are still alive may be appropriate for your situation. However, for most this strategy is not recommended due to the significant risks. If your goal is to avoid probate, maximize tax benefits and provide for the seamless transfer of your property upon your death, a living trust is likely a far better option.


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate

Danielle and Andy Mayoras (Forbes.com) have published an article entitled Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate” (Feb 10, 2014). Provided below is a summary of the article from Forbes.com:

Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate

Recently, Paul Walker's father filed to open the estate, which included Paul Walker's Last Will and Testament.

The probate filing revealed that Paul Walker’s assets totaled about 25 million dollars. The filing also showed that Walker had a revocable living trust in which he named his daughter the sole beneficiary of that trust. Unlike wills that are public documents, Trusts are private documents, thus no one but the designated ones according to the Trust will know what the Trust language states.

Lesson #1: Paul Walker placed His Trust In A Trust.

Depending on your circumstances, having a trust is one of the best Estate Planning tools for a lot of people, having a will is only a portion of the planning. Paul Walker’s will transferred all of his assets into a trust he created. This allows the probate process to be much quicker and simpler.

Lesson #2: Trusts Must Be Funded During Life.

When you fund your trust during your lifetime all the assets you put into your Trust will automatically be private once you pass away, meaning that nothing should be left to pass through the will. The reason we do know that Walker had a will, trust, and 25 million in assets is because he didn't fully fund his trust. 

Lesson #3: No One Should Wait Until They Are Old To Do Estate Planning.

Paul Walker’s will was signed in August of 2001, when he was only 28 years old. Far too many adults in this country wait until “someday” to prepare even a basic will.  No one should ever procrastinate with estate planning!  Walker certainly didn’t plan to die in a car accident.

To continue reading the Five lessons head over to read the full article by clicking the link: "Five Estate Planning Lessons From The Paul Walker Estate" By Danielle and Andy Mayoras (Forbes.com).  


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mother's Day Offer Day 4

Day 4: Free Online Will Based Estate Plan Package1

The LegalJourney Law Firm is providing a free “Online Will Based Estate Plan Package” for the first 2 mother's who sign up for a new client account via the online legal services link at www.legaljourney.com. 

To set up a free online account:

1.     Go to www.legaljourney.com;

2.     Select “Click Here For Online Legal Services”;

3.     Select “Register for a New Online Legal Services Account today!"

Create a user account and you will be notified within 24 hours if you will be a recipient of todays offer.

The LegalJourney Law Firm’s Online Will based Estate Plan Package includes: a Will, a Living Will, Health Care Power of Attorney, HIPPA Authorization and Durable Power of Attorney.

To find out additional details, please contact the LegalJourney Law Firm PLLC

1This offer is available until close of business May 15, 2014.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death

John F. Wasik (NYTimes.com) has recently published an article entitled, Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death (May 14, 2014). Provided below is a short summary of the article from NYTimes.com:

Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death

Although death planning can be emotionally vexing, it is essential for families and survivors.

Death planning will not only allow you to plan a dignified, meaningful and even splashy exit, but will provide guidance for those attending to your last moments and beyond.

FUNERAL CONSUMERS ALLIANCE provides advice on funeral planning and costs, and monitors industry trends.

Because critical care procedures and some drugs can damage organs, "Only about 3 percent of deaths would be suitable for lung or liver or heart donation after being on life support in a hospital," said Lisa Carlson, former executive director of the nonprofit Funeral Consumers Alliance and co-author with Joshua Slocum of "Final Rights: Reclaiming the American Way of Death".

Many states allow in-home funerals, although eight states require the involvement of funeral directors.

Do you want specific music played or pictures displayed? Are there past events or accomplishments you want your survivors to remember? Most important, Ms. Carlson noted, is to discuss with your family what you don't want in your final moments and beyond.

"If I'm totally dependent upon someone else," Ms. Carlson said, "My sense of self will evaporate. My time is up at that point. I will be looking forward to the other side - and coming back." Although death planning may be one of the most difficult things you will do, it is one final act of self-determination.

For more information on this topic, continue reading the article "Lifting From Others the Burden of Your Own Death" by John F. Wasik (NYTimes.com). 


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Attorney Karnardo Garnett represents clients with their Estate Planning, Elder Law and Asset Protection needs throughout the Tampa Bay Area, serving all of the bay area, including but not limited to Tampa, Brandon, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Gibsonton, Riverview, Oldsmar, Safety Harbor, Hillsborough County, and Pinellas County, FL



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