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.

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.

Using a Pour Over Will to Fund a Trust

Bigstock-Beautiful-woman-looking-throug-20311445[1]When you get a living trust from an estate planning attorney you will likely also get a pour over will that is designed to bequeath any assets you have when you pass away into your trust. It is important not to rely on that will as the sole means of funding your trust.

Getting a trust to avoid having your estate go through probate is only effective if you fund the trust. That means your assets need to be transferred into the trust. Any assets held in the trust when you pass away will then be used and distributed according to the terms of the trust instead of having to go through probate.

At the same time, you will also likely get a pour over will.

These are simple wills that dictate that any assets you had at the time of death that are not in the trust should be placed into it via probate.

Do not let that fool you into thinking you do not need to transfer assets to the trust now and just rely on your will as the Green Bay Press-Gazette points out in "Estate Planner: Importance of funding your trust."

While the exact rules vary from state to state, it does not take a lot of assets to require an estate to go through probate.

If all of your assets remain outside of your trust, then your executor has to probate your pour over will. By relying on the will you would have essentially defeated the purpose of getting the living trust in the first place.

If you do not know how to transfer assets into your trust or need assistance doing so, then talk to your estate planning attorney to get more information about what you need to do.  We help clients, who want Maryland living trust fund at Profit Law Firm.

Reference: Green Bay Press Gazette (Oct. 31, 2016) "Estate Planner: Importance of funding your trust."

 

Avoiding Estate Mistakes

Bigstock-Elder-Couple-With-Bills-3557267[1]If you do not have an Maryland estate plan or have a bad plan, then it is likely that your loved ones will have a more difficult time than necessary inheriting your wealth. Fortunately, for most people getting a good Maryland estate plan is easier than they often think.

One of the many reasons people in Maryland put off planning for their estates is that they imagine it is much more difficult to do than it really is. For most people a good Maryland estate plan follows a simple formula. They need to decide who they want to inherit their property, hire an experienced Maryland estate planning attorney and have the appropriate documents drawn up.

Recently, Kiplinger wrote about four steps to take in “4 Strategies to Avoid an Estate-Planning Mishap.”

They include:

  • Get a basic will that details who you want to have your property and what they should have.
  • Create a living trust and put your most important assets in it. With a trust in place most of your estate will not need to go through probate after you pass away, which makes things much easier on your family.
  • Make sure all of your financial accounts are properly titled. Some you might want to put in your new trust. For others you can make them payable on death so they will automatically go to a person of your designation after you pass away.
  • Consider getting a life insurance policy. If your family is in need of cash after you pass away, they will have access to it through the life insurance benefit. This is a good way to make sure that your family has what it needs while waiting for your estate to be legally settled.

A qualified Maryland estate planning attorney can help you design – and implement –  a Maryland estate plan appropriate for your unique circumstances.

Reference: Kiplinger (Aug. 2016) “4 Strategies to Avoid an Estate-Planning Mishap.”