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.

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.

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.

Lessons From Paul Walker’s Estate Plan

Paul Walker, an actor in the movie franchise Fast and Furious, sadly died at age 40 in a car accident. Besides being part of on of the greatest movie franchises every produced, Walker made the smart move of creating an estate plan unlike other celebrities like Prince and Amy Winehouse, who didn’t have a pleasant ending with probate court. Besides creating an estate plan, there were also lessons to be learned from his estate plan. These lessons include: Trusts can be useful, Trusts need to be fully funded during your lifetime to be the most effective, It is important to name a guardian if you have minor children, Start your estate planning early, and Estate plans should definitely be updated. When I say that Trusts can be useful, it means that a trust is an estate-planning tool that goes beyond a normal will. In Paul Walker’s case, he did have one. By having a trust, you can take control of your asset distribution and avoid going to probate court. When you create a trust, make sure you have a good estate- planning attorney. By the fact that Trusts need to be fully funded during your lifetime to be the most effective, don’t make the mistake that Paul Walker did which is have $25 million in assets without funding his trust. When it comes down to the Importance of Naming a Guardian, especially if you have minor children, it is crucial. If you don’t have a guardian set in place in your will, then the probate court decides. Also, by Starting an Estate Plan early, you can avoid the risk of having no will at the end. According to an article by Martison and Beason, “Creating a will and other estate planning documents is not only for the elderly. In fact, you can start right now. The last crucial lesson that should be taken into account when creating an estate plan is that Your Estate Plan should be updated. If your net worth of the estate either increases or decreases, make sure than your estate plan includes those facts. If you follow these steps, you are guaranteed to have a successful and well thought out 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.

The Great Harry Houdini’s Estate Plan

 

Harry Houdini, an escape artist, was most known magician of the 20th century. He amazed his crowds with tricks such as The Overboard Box Escape and the East Indian Needle Trick. After Houdini died from complications due to a ruptured appendix on October 31, 1926, his estate plan was and still remains one of the best. In 1924, Harry had created a 23 clause long will that was detailed to the max and updated just one year after. In his great will, Houdini gave $500 dollars to his three assistants, $1000 to the Society of American Magicians, and the rest of his estate portions would be liquidated and distributed to each member of his family over periods of time. Two unique aspects of his estate included that: 1/6th of the estate should go to his wife, and whoever received a portion of his estate must have been confirmed according to the Jewish law and traditions. Along with the liquidation and separating his money, he also gave his theatrical effects and tricks to his younger brother, and up and coming magician, Theodore, relying on the fact that he should not share it to the world. For his most valuable books, Houdini gave them all away to the Library of Congress for safekeeping. Even though Harry’s estate plan stated that each member of his family should receive a portion, Sadie Weiss, Houdini’s sister-in-law, received none due to the fact that he disliked her for marrying his one brother, Nathan, and then his younger brother Leopold. For his wife Beth, she was told to perform a séance until she could finally contact him. Along with being the Best Magician around, Harry Houdini had tricks up his sleeve especially in his estate plan.

Harry Houdini, an escape artist, was most known magician of the 20th century. He amazed his crowds with tricks such as The Overboard Box Escape and the East Indian Needle Trick. After Houdini died from complications due to a ruptured appendix on October 31, 1926, his estate plan was and still remains one of the best. In 1924, Harry had created a 23 clause long will that was detailed to the max and updated just one year after. In his great will, Houdini gave $500 dollars to his three assistants, $1000 to the Society of American Magicians, and the rest of his estate portions would be liquidated and distributed to each member of his family over periods of time. Two unique aspects of his estate included that: 1/6th of the estate should go to his wife, and whoever received a portion of his estate must have been confirmed according to the Jewish law and traditions. Along with the liquidation and separating his money, he also gave his theatrical effects and tricks to his younger brother, and up and coming magician, Theodore, relying on the fact that he should not share it to the world. For his most valuable books, Houdini gave them all away to the Library of Congress for safekeeping. Even though Harry’s estate plan stated that each member of his family should receive a portion, Sadie Weiss, Houdini’s sister-in-law, received none due to the fact that he disliked her for marrying his one brother, Nathan, and then his younger brother Leopold. For his wife Beth, she was told to perform a séance until she could finally contact him. Along with being the Best Magician around, Harry Houdini had tricks up his sleeve especially in his 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.

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.

Will Inheritances Become a Thing of the Past?

MP900439346[1]In wealthy countries aging populations and the increasing costs of caring for the elderly are putting in jeopardy the entire idea of inheritances for large percentages of the population.

One of the key ways that people in the U.S. have been able to stay in the middle class and slowly build up some wealth between generations is through inheritances. Receiving even a small inheritance from parents, especially if it includes real estate, allows families to build up some wealth. That wealth can, in turn, be left as inheritances for their children.

Even if people are not consciously aware of this, they seem to know it intuitively judging by their actions and their estate planning. In wealthy countries, that idea is in jeopardy of becoming a distant memory for middle class families as the Financial Times explains in "Opinion Today: The end of inheritance."

The article is about the situation in the U.K., but the issues in the U.S. are the same.

The overall population is aging. The elderly are living much longer than in previous years. This increases the cost of providing care for the elderly population. There are not enough younger people paying taxes to make up for the increasing costs.

When political leaders have proposed addressing the issue, they have been punished by voters, who do not want changes to the elder benefits they have been promised.

At some point, the issue does need to be addressed.

If governments cannot afford to meet elder care expenses, then the costs will fall on individual families.  It is likely that there is nothing left over for many middle-class parents to bequeath to their children.

Reference: Financial Times (Dec. 23, 2017) "Opinion Today: The end of inheritance."

 

Children and Inherited Retirement Accounts

Bigstock-Large-Mixed-Race-Family-2589417_(2)[1]If your children inherit your retirement accounts, they will have a few options about what to do with them.

Most people designate their spouses as the beneficiaries of their retirement accounts after they pass away. Consequently, the surviving spouse then becomes the owner of the accounts and can use the account in the same way that the deceased spouse did.

However, sometimes people name non-spouse beneficiaries, such as their children or the children end up receiving the accounts after the designated spouse passes away.

What the children can do with the accounts is not as simple as it is for spouses.  However, there are a few options.

The Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog discusses some of these options in "What Your Kids Can Do When They Inherit Your Retirement Accounts."

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. However, they will need to make annual required minimum distributions and must take the first one by a set time.

If you have questions about your retirement accounts and your heirs, then talk to an estate planning attorney to get answers. While you are at it, learn more about how your retirement accounts can be used as part of an overall estate plan.

Reference: Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog (Nov. 22, 2017) "What Your Kids Can Do When They Inherit Your Retirement Accounts."