Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

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.

 

 

 

“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.

Coffin Clubs

MP900442452[1]Most funerals are boring affairs that do not do justice to the vibrant personalities of the deceased. Coffin clubs seek to change that.

The phrase "coffin club" might invoke some sort of club for people who like to pretend they are vampires. That is not what coffin clubs are.

Coffin clubs are the 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.

The first coffin club was created as a result.

The story is picked up by Market Watch in "Want to spice up your own funeral? Join a coffin club."

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.

Many of today's elderly people do not want a traditional, boring funeral. Coffin clubs are just one example of that.

Reference: Market Watch (Nov. 25, 2017)

"Want to spice up your own funeral? Join a coffin club."

 

Burial for the Indigent

Old-graveyard-free-public-domainThe high costs of funeral services creates a problem, because many people pass away without having the means for their own burials. Their remains still have to go somewhere.

Every year, thousands of people with very little money pass away.  Sometimes, it is not even known who these deceased people were in life.

While this might seem like a minor issue and something that has always been the case, it creates an increasing burden on local governments.  They must determine what to do with the bodies of deceased people, who either cannot be identified or whose families do not have the money to afford burial or cremation.

It is not a minor expense,  since the costs of disposing of a deceased body continue to rise.

One county in Florida had such a significant problem that they purchased a cemetery, as the Tallahassee Democrat reports in "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."

The cemetery previously belonged to a hospital, but the county purchased it to dispose of the remains of the indigent as cheaply as possible. Graves are marked with the most basic of markers and no actual funeral services are allowed at the cemetery.

The deceased are buried as quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

This is an issue that could get worse before it gets better.

Elderly people are living longer and in greater numbers. That makes it likely that many more elderly will pass away in the future, after they have run out of their own money.

The burden to bury them will be on the government. Elder law advocates may need to address this problem in the near future.

Reference: Tallahassee Democrat (June 24, 2017) "A priceless burden: Indigent burials at Leon County's 'pauper's cemetery'."

 

Going on a Last Ride

Motorcycle riders in Lubbock, Texas now have the opportunity to incorporate going on a final ride into their funeral services.

The basic design of hearses has not changed very much over the years. They are somber looking vehicles, usually black, that most closely resemble a limousine.

At least, that is what almost everyone would imagine, when they hear the word "hearse."

However, Derek Dunn of Lubbock, Texas had a different idea.

Dunn created a hearse that resembles a motorcycle and painted it red.

MP900442276[1]The hearse pulls a platform behind it that carries the casket, which is in the open air. Different graphics can be displayed on the platform for groups, such as firefighters and police.

Dunn even created the hearse to appeal to motorcycle enthusiasts who want to go on one last ride.

Everything Lubbock reported this story in "A Unique 'Last Ride'."

This is a continuation of the larger trend to personalize funerals and memorials. More and more people are choosing to have more personal touches in their funerals, instead of sticking with just the traditional ceremony.

If the trend continues, more stories like the motorcycle hearse can be expected.

Elderly people should be aware of this trend for two reasons. First, if they want to have a non-traditional personalized funeral service, then they should make pre-arranged plans. There are many options available.

Second, and just as important, elderly people who do not want a traditional service, need to let that be known, in case their families might decide to do it on their own.

Reference: Everything Lubbock (June 27, 2017) "A Unique 'Last Ride'."