Kent Larsson writes about the proper use of wills, advance directives, trusts, and other estate planning tools, and how how they play a vital role in you receiving proper medical care and helping you to preserve and pass on your assets to your loved ones.
It is best to consider all possibilities when making plans to protect your family.
In addition to creating your will and an estate plan, you might consider that while you are at the attorney's office you should also get plans for what might happen if you become incapacitated, according to the Times Herald-Record discusses in "Make plans in case you are incapacitated."
The issue is that if you are incapacitated, someone else needs the legal authority to act on your behalf.
Someone will need to be able to handle your bills and to make medical decisions for you, should it be necessary.
If you do not plan ahead, it can be a difficult process for someone else to get the legal authority.
Someone will have to hire an attorney and go to court to get a judge's permission to act as your guardian.
Fortunately, planning for what will happen if you become incapacitated is not difficult.
You just need a general durable power of attorney and a health care power of attorney.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances.
Reference: Times Herald-Record (Dec. 12, 2017) "Make plans in case you are incapacitated."
Male primogeniture is the rule in England.
There may be a way around the rule of male primogeniture in England, according to the Daily Mail in "New gender laws could let my girls inherit title, says Earl: Aristocrat suggests one of his daughters could identify as male after his death to claim his title."
The rules of male primogeniture were once the general rule. The closest male relative to the deceased inherited everything.
The titles of nobility in Britain still follow the old rule.
This does not please the Earl of Balfour, who has been an outspoken critic of male primogeniture. It is perhaps because he does not have any sons, but does have four daughters.
His daughters cannot inherit his title and it is set to pass to his younger brother, when the Earl passes away.
A proposed new law, which has the support of Prime Minister Theresa May, would allow British citizens to change their gender.
The Earl of Balfour suggests that one of his daughters could use the law to inherit his title.
It is not clear if he is actually suggesting that one of his daughters would go to that length to get around the strict rules of male primogeniture.
Reference: Daily Mail (Nov. 29, 2017) "New gender laws could let my girls inherit title, says Earl: Aristocrat suggests one of his daughters could identify as male after his death to claim his title."
Manson drafted a will while in prison leaving everything to longtime pen pal.
Charles Manson’s will has been filed in court and an anonymous friend who would inherit his assets has been revealed to be Mark Channels, according to the Daily Mail in "Charles Manson's pen pal files the infamous killer's last will and testament in court after saying 'he'll go into the ring' if anyone challenges the document."
It turns out that Channels apparently worshipped Manson and even had a shrine to the cult leader in his home. Channels has already issued a warning to anyone who might contest the will and stated that he is prepared to fight for Manson's estate.
Manson does have a few living relatives who might want to contest the will. However, at the time of the article they had not done so. They still have roughly 100 days to file with the court, if they so choose.
Whoever inherits Manson's estate can expect to earn some money from collectors and could also see some money from music royalties.
Channels has vowed to fight any challenges to the will in court.
Reference: Daily Mail (Nov. 28, 2017) "Charles Manson's pen pal files the infamous killer's last will and testament in court after saying 'he'll go into the ring' if anyone challenges the document."
How you are classified in the hospital will make a big difference in Medicare coverage.
Medicare considers patients who are in the hospital "under observation" as outpatients and will not be covered, no matter how long they are actually in the hospital, according to The New York Times in "Under 'Observation' Some Hospital Patients Face Big Bills."
Elder law advocates have long pointed out that the rule is absurd.
The patient does not always get to choose what the hospital writes down in the file and the patient does not always know the importance of being formally admitted, instead of just being under observation.
There has never been a way for the patients to challenge their designations later, until now.
A judge in Connecticut has recently opened the door for legal challenges.
Reference: New York Times (Sep. 1, 2017) "Under 'Observation' Some Hospital Patients Face Big Bills."
State laws are similar, but differences can turn out to be important.
If you relocate to another state, it is important to revisit your estate plan because there are a number of variables that have an impact on the plan, according to The Times Herald in "Moving can affect your financial planning."
Generally speaking, if a will you had drafted was valid in the state in which it was drafted at the time it was drafted, the other states will consider it to be valid.
Trusts are valid in every state, since the state in which they were created always governs over the trust.
Most of the time your estate plan will be valid in your new state. However, there can be some issues, especially if you purchase real estate in your new home state. Some states have particular rules about how real estate has to be handled.
You should also be aware that your new state could have tax laws that are different than your old state. Something you have done in your estate plan might still be legal and valid, but it might not be tax-wise.
It would be prudent to obtain the advice of an estate planning attorney in your new state of residence, in case your plan needs updating.
Reference: The Times Herald (Dec. 1, 2017) "Moving can affect your financial planning."
If your children inherit your retirement accounts, they will have options about what to do with them.
The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discusses some of the options that heirs have when inheriting retirement accounts in "What Your Kids Can Do When They Inherit Your Retirement Accounts."
Most people designate their spouses as the beneficiaries of their retirement accounts. However, people sometimes name non-spouse beneficiaries, such as their children.
What the children can do with the accounts is not as simple as it is for spouses. However, there are a few options.
The options include:
• The assets in the account can be taken out immediately as one lump sum.
• The assets in the account can be taken out whenever needed, as long as the account is empty within five years.
• The children can choose to stretch the account out over their own expected lifetimes. They will need to make annual required minimum distributions and must take the first one by a set time.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and advise you on your retirement accounts.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 22, 2017) "What Your Kids Can Do When They Inherit Your Retirement Accounts."
Shares in Family Business Can Be Challenging
Value of shares in a private company can more easily be lost because of the time factor.
Shares in most public companies can be sold quickly and easily. However, if you leave your heirs shares in a family business, it can be more difficult because money can more easily be lost, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "The Family-Shareholder Wealth Roadmap."
If heirs receive shares in publicly traded companies it is easy enough for them to turn those shares into cash anytime they wish.
If you leave your family shares in a private or family business, it is much more difficult to turn those shares into cash. There are often restrictions on who can own the shares and there is not an easily and quickly accessible market to sell the shares.
One of the biggest mistakes that family businesses make, is not adequately considering the time value of money when it comes to making cash distributions to shareholders.
Companies often wait too long to make the distributions and thus the shareholders lose value. Another common mistake is using equity to finance operations, when debt financing would be better under the circumstances.
These problems can be overcome with the right assistance.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and may include assets in the form of a family business.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 24, 2017) "The Family-Shareholder Wealth Roadmap."
Determining what will happen after you pass away by setting up an estate plan can be helpful.
Planning on what happens after you pass away by creating an estate plan can sometimes lead to a more fruitful life, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "How Planning For Your Death Can Help You Live A More Purposeful Life."
What is meant by good death planning is planning for what will happen to your assets after you pass away and planning for how you want to be remembered after you are gone.
We call these “estate” planning and “legacy” planning.
Estate planning starts with deciding who you want to have your assets and personal possessions after you pass away. You can then go to an estate planning attorney, who will prepare legal documents to make your wishes enforceable.
Legacy planning is not quite as simple. It requires thinking about what is important in your life and figuring out how to impart that to the people you will leave behind.
If you do undertake estate and legacy planning, then you will have a better understanding of what will happen after you pass away.
That, in turn, will help you to live better now.
Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 23, 2017) "How Planning For Your Death Can Help You Live A More Purposeful Life."
Photographer’s work was not known in her lifetime, but is recognized now.
A woman passed away in 2009 entirely unknown. She had no known heirs or estate plan. However, the value of her amateur photography has now sparked a copyright battle, according to PDN Pulse in "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."
Vivian Maier worked as a housekeeper and was poor. She stopped making payments in 2007 on a small storage locker she had in Chicago and the contents of the locker were auctioned off.
Included in the Chicago storage locker were a number of photographs and negatives that Maier had taken over the years. She apparently loved to take pictures of what she saw on the street.
However, Maier was not an ordinary amateur photographer.
She was brilliant and interest in her work grew immediately, when some of it was posted online.
Collectors began buying up her works, including a man named Jeffrey Goldstein. He began selling prints of the work and licensing the images for use.
Maier's estate sued Goldstein for copyright violations. Goldstein asked that the court dismiss the suit, since he claimed to have purchased the works before Maier passed away.
His request has been denied and the heirs will now benefit from her work.
Reference: PDN Pulse (Nov. 21, 2017) "Federal Court Sustains Vivian Maier Copyright Claim."
Coffin clubs seek to change the tradition.
Coffin clubs are being formed to work toward making funerals less somber and less boring, according to Market Watch in "Want to spice up your own funeral? Join a coffin club."
The first coffin clubs was formed as a result of a group of elderly people in New Zealand who had gone to so many funerals for their friends that they began to get irritated with the funeral process.
They noticed that no matter how big of a personality their friends had and no matter how vibrant and joyful their friends were during their lives, their funerals were always boring, somber affairs. These elderly Kiwis were upset that these funerals did not do justice to the lives their friends led.
In a coffin club, a group of people get together and decorate their future coffins. This allows mostly elderly club members a chance to not only hang out and have fun but to create a coffin for their remains that reflects their own personalities.
It is a way to make their funerals more interesting and more reflective of their own lives.
Funerals are changing all over the world.
Reference: Market Watch (Nov. 25, 2017)
"Want to spice up your own funeral? Join a coffin club."