Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Under Pressure: David Bowie’s Estate Plan

Download-1“Under Pressure.” These two words were said by the iconic David Bowie along with Queen singer, Freddie Mercury. Sadly, Bowie died back on January 20, 2016 from liver cancer at the age of 69 in Manhattan, New York City. Many celebrities, including Kanye West and Madonna, reacted with deep sorrow because they had lost the “Chameleon of Rock.” Bowie’s legacy still lives on through his children, Lexi and Duncan, along with his wife and now widow, Iman.

Bowie, initially, left the rest of his residuary estate and the remainder of Iman’s trust to Duncan and Lexi. Lexi was also subjected to her own separate trust until the age of 25. After the age of 25, she would be able to possess all the trusts assets. In the case of Iman’s trust, it did qualify for a full marital deduction, which created Bowie’s estate taxes that were to be managed by the children’s shares of the residuary estate.

Even though Bowie was iconic, his estate plan did suffer some consequences. With the $100 million value of his estate, Bowie did not create lifetime trusts that would have benefited his children. If he had created that trust, his children would have been protected from creditors for either his or her lifetime. It would have also given Bowie the power to use his full GST exemption. Since he did not achieve this step, both Lexi and Duncan did not have a special power of appointment over the trust.

One other mistake that David Bowie made in his estate plan was that he did not institute the decanting procedure, which an authorized trustee, not the grantor, transfers assets from one trust into another trust which contains the necessary changes that will achieve the intended purpose. Since he did not use this process, Iman’s trust could not be transferred from one to another.

When creating an estate plan, make sure to use the decanting process. The decanting process can be a powerful tool for post- mortem estate planning and should always be considered whenever testamentary trusts are created. Don’t be under pressure! Create your estate plan today!

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Creating A Good Estate Plan

Dose-media-424257-unsplashMany people these days wonder about what do I need to do before I die and what is the process. Well, the answer to those questions is: Create an Estate Plan. By creating an estate plan, it helps open up the options about money distribution in a will or trust to the heirs of your inheritance. In fact, there are 12 easy steps to follow in order to make sure that your estate plan can go smoothly without having the risk of going to probate court.

 

  1. Create a Will
  2. Consider creating a trust
  3. Make Health Care Derivatives
  4. Make A Financial Power of Attorney
  5. Protect your children’s property
  6. File Beneficiary Forms
  7. Consider having Life Insurance in place
  8. Understand any estate taxes that will be made
  9. Make sure the funeral expenses are covered
  10. Make the final arrangements
  11. Protect your business
  12. Make sure your documents are stored in a secure place

By following these steps, your estate plan will be carried out smoothly and successfully without any further negotiations. If you don’t create an estate plan, your future heirs would need to go to probate court to negotiate over your inheritance which is not good at all. Avoid going to probate court and create an estate plan today!

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Princess Diana’s Estate Plan

9aa3f79b8231f3c510cf05d1b718abbf“Family is the most important thing in the world.” Diana, Princess of Wales, was the most beloved soul that left the world too soon. When Princess Diana died on August 31, 1997, the whole world mourned because their queen was gone and her legacy of social work was cut way too short thanks to the paparazzi. Unfortunately, Lady Diana Spencer’s failure to have a proper estate plan came into play 17 years after her death.

Along with creating a will, Diana had created a Letter of Wishes. That letter contained the fact that ¾  of her jewelry and prize possessions were to be given to her sons, Prince William and Prince Harry and the ¼ would be given to her 17 godchildren. Unfortunately, this letter was not recognized and her godchildren only received one item of Diana’s estate. This letter went undisclosed for several years until it was revealed due to the outrage of the parents of the godchildren who were supposed to receive the ¼ of Diana’s estate.

According to the executors of her estate, they had filed a “variance” after her death which was supposed to distribute the money to her sons until they turned 30 which of course did not occur.

In Diana’s case, Personal Property that is valuable and important should be directly in a will or trust. Not a letter. If Diana had done this in her estate plan, there would be no questions about what the deceased individual wanted. Also, there would have been no variances. Even though Diana was the beloved princess of the world, by making the mistakes and causing much havoc in her family, her estate plan ended up in turmoil.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

 

 

 

Sonny Bono’s Estate Plan

“I’ve got you babe.” Those were the words that the beloved Sonny Bono said to Cher in 1965, 33 years before his tragic death in 1998 from a ski accident. Salvatore “Sonny” Bono was a comedian, a father, a singer, and also a congressman who appealed to to the younger generations as a figure of American singer- songwriters. His fame skyrocketed after he married his second wife, Cher in 1964 and produced a show, “The Sonny and Cher Show,” which featured even their own daughter Chaz(Formerly: Chastity) Bono, who is now a man.

Along with his career, his death also sparked some difficulty. Since he died without a will, his estate was even up for grabs, even for his second wife Cher. Cher sued Sonny’s fourth wife, Mary Bono, and the estate for $1.6 million dollars that was in unpaid alimony. That money consisted of: $25,000 per month for six months, $1,500 per month for child support, and $41,000 in attorney fees. Whether or not Cher collected this money is up for debate even to this day.

By not creating his will, Sonny’s legacy suffered drastically. It was all filled with legal fees and like before it is now up for grabs. Don’t make the same mistake that Sonny did. Create an estate plan.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

 

“To Boldly Go Where No Man Has Gone Before”: The Gene Roddenberry Estate Plan

Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the beloved series, Star Trek, had the intuition of a creative mastermind. Although he passed away back in 1991, his legacy lives on. A normal burial was exactly the opposite of what Roddenberry imagined. The celestial burial is exactly what he wanted, which was not normal whatsoever. His wishes, however, were carried out by his wife Mrs. Majel Barrett Roddenberry in 1997 when a portion of his cremated ashes were shipped in a space capsule by Celestis Incorporated, which specializes in memorial spaceflights.

       Creating A Living Trust definitely played a huge roll in being able to carry out this task. Even though Roddenberry defined the odds by having his remains float in orbit around earth, he was able to make sure that his estate plan was updated with that new change. By channeling what he really wanted, Roddenberry’s legacy- having a “space burial” continues even today. Astronauts, school teachers, James Doohan(Scotty), and his wife Majel Barrett (Nurse Chapel) all had their wishes fulfilled: a space burial. By creating a living will, your wishes can be fulfilled as long as a trust is established so you can avoid probate court.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients,Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

How Michael Jackson’s Estate Plan Was A Success

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop culture, not only left behind a legacy; he also left behind a great estate plan. He made the sensible choice unlike Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. With the help of his chief executor of his estate both his entertainment attorney John Branca and his music executive John McClain, he left an estimated over $500 million value of assets to his heirs. By having this money, his heirs, under Jackson’s will, will be protected.

In order for him to create this smart and sensible estate plan, he had to follow the steps which include: Creating A Living Trust, Naming A Guardian, and Assembling A Good Estate Plan. By Creating A Living Trust, it spared his heirs the ongoing and prolonged legal process of transferring assets through probate court. By Naming A Guardian, he chose who would care for his minor children. By Assembling A Good Estate Plan, he was able to make sure his heirs got what they wanted.

According to a close correspondent to the King of Pop, “He put two people in charge of the will and trust who he felt were sage, mature, and had a great deal of expertise in how to handle what are probably considerable assets. He couldn’t have put his estate in a better position.” With these steps, you will be able to achieve what Michael Jackson did, which is a “Good Estate Plan.” Overall, the bottom line is that Estate Planning is important and you should have one in place, just like Michael Jackson did. It will serve you well in the future and protect your future heirs.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Muhammad Ali’s Estate Plan Left A Legacy

“Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” This was said by no one other that the world’s most renowned heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali. Ali sadly left this world back in 2016 due to complications with Parkinson’s disease, and his legacy lives on even to this day. With this legacy, he left behind approximately $80 million dollar estate to his wife, Yolanda.

Unfortunately for his children, they fought against their stepmother in order to retain the $6 million that they each deserved. Surprisingly, even though his own children despise one another, they are able to work together to make sure the money with Ali’s estate allocated effectively and evenly. His children even accused their stepmother of keeping Ali isolated from his children during his final days.

Besides Ali’s estate, his funeral proceedings went in accordance with the thorough details he laid down years before. Ali claimed that he wanted both his life and his death to become a teaching moment for younger audiences. From a traditional islamic funeral to being praised for being “The Greatest of All Time”, Ali’s legacy will never be forgotten. Even though his estate planning was not considered to be strong, the legacy and funeral proceedings went perfectly as planned.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

John Lennon’s Estate Plan

John Lennon, a beloved songwriter and singer from the band The Beatles’, was murdered tragically at the age of 40 in 1980. John Lennon always had the motivation to change the world and to imagine a life without destruction. With the backup support from his wife, Yoko Ono, Lennon became a voice for the people of the world. Instead of naturally giving his son Julian full control over his estate like he did at first, Yoko Ono got full control over Lennon’s original song rights and his image. Unfortunately, Lennon’s estate plan became sad just like a ballad due to his son Julian’s fury over his estate. Sixteen years after Lennon had passed away, Julian sued Ono for a larger part of his father’s estate. Eventually, it was settled completely in 1996 and Julian received 20 million in English pounds after the long and limitless legal battle versus Yoko Ono. Some of the lessons that can be learned from Lennon’s estate plan include: Don’t leave your children out of will, Create Steps in order to make sure each one of your heirs receives their part, and Create an Additional Trust just in case your child gets left out. By using this advice, you can avoid family feuds and will be able to make sure your estate plan is executed smoothly.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients,Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

How Michael Jackson’s Estate Plan Was A Success

Michael Jackson, the King of Pop culture, not only left behind such a legacy but also left behind a great estate plan. He made the sensible choice unlike Prince, Aretha Franklin, and Whitney Houston. With the help of his chief executor of his estate both his entertainment attorney John Branca and his music executive John McClain, he left an estimated over $500 million value of assets to his heirs. By having this money, his heirs, under Jackson’s will, his legacy be protected. In order for him to create this smart and sensible estate plan, he had to follow the steps which include: Writing A Will, Considering A Living Trust, Naming A Guardian, and Assembling A Good Team.

By Writing A Will, without confrontation between siblings, he ensured that his instruction for dividing his property were followed after he died. By Considering A Living Trust, it spared his heirs the hastle of going through probate court- an expensive and prolonged legal process.

By Naming A Guardian, for his kids, he ensured the right people would protect them.

By Assembling A Good Team, he was able to make sure his heirs got what he wanted them to have instead of setting a prolonged, expensive family fight in court. According to a close correspondent to the King of Pop, “He put two people in charge of the will and trust who he felt were sage, mature, and had a great deal of expertise in how to handle what are probably considerable assets. He couldn’t have put his estate in a better position.”

If you follow these steps, you will be able to achieve what Michael Jackson did, which is a “Good Estate Plan.” Overall, the bottom line is that Estate Planning is important and you should have one in place, just like Michael Jackson did. It will serve you well in the future and protect your family, future heirs and your business.

Michelle Profit is an estate planning attorney serving Maryland and the District of Columbia. A Harvard Law School graduate, she has worked in the financial services industry for over 20 years. A dedicated advocate for all of her clients, Michelle Q. Profit personally handles each client case from start to finish to meet the client’s needs and objectives. Michelle listens in the consultation sessions and works with any other client accountants or financial planners to create a comprehensive estate plan.

Want to Give Away All of Your Money?

Giving-to-charity2“Even if you’re not a millionaire, you may have reached a stage where you think, It’s enough. It could even be a bit too much. A second car may sit mostly in your garage. A beloved vacation home may have transformed from a place to relax to a place to maintain.”

You don’t have to be a millionaire to feel like you’ve got enough. How many cars, vacations or houses does anyone really need? If you’ve reached that point, congratulations. Now, what do you do about it? How do you share your resources in a way that is carefully thought out and doesn’t create a battle among family members? An article from AARP, “How to Give Your Money Away,” provides some good points.

A grandchild needs a college education. Use a 529 college tuition plan to help your grandchild, by contributing to a plan created by the child’s parent. Financial aid formulas look at contributions from a grandparent’s plan but not a parent’s plan as student income. To allow your grandchild to be eligible for student aid or grants, make sure that the funds you contribute go to his or her parent’s 529. Many states permit you to switch ownership to the parent,  if the beneficiary remains the same.

You want to be philanthropic, even if you’re not Warren Buffet. You can use what’s called a DAF—donor advised fund. They are like charitable savings accounts. The tax deduction for any cash or investments placed in the fund is immediate, so you can front-load two or three years’ worth of giving into one year. You can also claim a charitable deduction for a year, when you intend to itemize instead of taking the new standard deduction. You can direct grants from the fund to any non-profit organization you choose and whatever timeframe you like.

One child is a smashing success, the other is a starving artist. Sometimes the disparity of incomes between children, can be a result of choice or abilities. Nevertheless, you may not wish to leave the exact same amount to both kids. One of your children might have a disability and needs special planning. It’s your call and it’s also your call whether to share all the details with your kids. Logic prevails in some families and there’s no drama over these kinds of decisions. Less information about their inheritance is better for others. You could insert a no-contest clause in the will to forestall any litigation.

You have visions of generations enjoying your summer cottage. Sometime this works out.  However, sometimes the kids have no interest in the property and just want to sell it. Have that conversation first. If no one wants it, sell it when the timing works for you. If one kid loves the house and the others don’t care, work out the numbers so the house stays in the family, but the child receives a smaller percentage of assets. If the family wants to keep the house, work with an estate planning attorney to create an LLC (Limited Liability Company) and give shares to the kids. You’ll need an operating agreement, including how the cost of maintaining the property will be handled and what happens, if someone wants to sell their share. Define the universe of eligible owners as lineal descendants and not spouses, to forestall an ownership battle in the case of a divorce.

Talk with an experienced estate planning attorney about how to give away your assets in a way that will make sense for your family and gain useful tax benefits for your estate.

Reference: AARP (May 1, 2018) “How to Give Your Money Away”