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 An Effective Will

Melinda-gimpel-699368-unsplashWhat is a will? How can I create one that is effective? These two questions are very common when creating a will. A will does play a vital part in how the money or any personal property is distributed amongst future heirs. By creating an effective will, it can be helpful with planning the future. In fact, there are eight simple steps in order to create an effective will that will save you time when planning the money distribution.

  1. Decide what personal property to include in your will
  2. Decide who will inherit your estate
  3. Choose the right executor to handle your estate
  4. Choose the right guardian for your children
  5. Choose a guardian who will take care of your children’s personal property
  6. Make your will
  7. Sign your will in front of the witnesses
  8. Store your will in a safe place

With these steps, you can avoid the troubles that many celebrities like Prince and Aretha Franklin had with their estates. By having a will, you will also avoid the troubles and litigation in probate court. Create your will 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.

 

 

 

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.

Mistakes That Aretha Franklin Made In Her Estate Plan

Aretha Franklin, just like her fellow performer Prince, was undoubtedly talented beyond her years. Unfortunately, she did not have a will set up that would enable her loved ones to get what they deserved, including her child Clarence, who is 63 years old, that has special needs that require attention. If you follow in this path just like Franklin, the disbursements of money could be delayed, very detrimental family disputes may arouse, your estate as a whole may require extra taxes, and ultimately, your financial life could become a public record! If you have a child that requires special attention and you don’t have a will, your child will not receive any government benefits. If you don’t have a will or a trust, get one written up before it is too late! If you don’t follow through like Aretha did, your estate and probate deal will become public, not private.

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.

Funding a Trust

Irish-handsAfter creating a trust, you need to fund it. That does not have to be a difficult process.

One of the many problems of “discount” trusts, either from a trust service or an online document service, is that they never get around to funding the trust. When the settlor passes away, the trust does not work as intended, because there are no assets in it to be distributed according to the terms of the trust. The time and money spent creating the trust were all wasted.

Trusts must be funded. That does not mean just putting money in them. It means transferring the title of property to the trust, as the Times Herald-Record discusses in "How to transfer assets to a trust."

Transferring title of property differs for different types of assets. However, it does not need to be difficult for any asset type. It is mostly a matter of filling out the right paperwork and getting that paperwork to the proper authority. For example, when you purchased your home, the title was transferred to you and registered with your local Register of Deeds. You just need to do the same thing for the trust this time.

There is someone who can help you make sure that your trust is properly funded. That is an estate planning attorney who knows how to transfer title in different asset types. This is one reason why it is better to hire an attorney to create a trust, instead of using a cheaper service. It helps make sure that your trust gets funded and will be effective when it is needed.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (May 31, 2018) "How to transfer assets to a trust." 

Use a Trust to Avoid Disputes

If you know that your family is likely to fight over your estate, you can limit the fight greatly, by using a trust instead of a will. Bigstock-Family-Couple-Relationships-Cr-5604405

Many family fights over estates are predictable. People know when their family members do not get along and are likely to fight over their inheritances. They know that “unequal” inheritances are more likely to trigger trouble, too.

When it comes to estate planning, it is important to understand that those fights quite often result in protracted court cases over the estate. This is especially true, if the main instrument used to distribute the estate is a will that has to go through probate by its very legal nature. Some of this mayhem may be avoided by using a trust instead as the Times Herald-Record discusses in "Trusts avoid inheritance disputes among family members."

Since trusts do not go through probate, there is no open probate case for family members to easily file a claim. That in and of itself makes a trust much less likely to lead to litigation. It is also easier to use the trust document itself to create language making family fights less likely. Even if there are fights, an independent trustee can often referee those fights and thus avoid any litigation.

It is nearly impossible to completely guarantee that no family fight will ever occur over an estate. An estate planning attorney can help make those fights much less likely, by creating a good trust.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (April 5, 2018) "Trusts avoid inheritance disputes among family members."

 

Protecting Assets from Medicaid

MP900309139If Medicaid ends up needing to pay for your nursing home care, the government will seek to take any assets that you have to pay for its costs. You might be able to create a trust to get around that problem.

One of the realities of aging in America, is that people who need to stay in long-term nursing home care cannot pay for their stays without losing all of their assets. There is nothing left for their children to inherit. They spend everything they have left, and only then will the government pay for their care through Medicaid.

If the elderly person has a home, the government will even seek to claim that and sell it after no one else is living there. That creates an awful feeling for many elderly parents, because they have nothing to leave their families.

There are some ways around this problem, including using a certain type of trust as the Times Herald-Record discussed in "Benefits of Medicaid Asset Protection Trust."

A Medicaid Asset Protection Trust is a trust that set up specifically to protect assets from Medicaid, while still qualifying an elderly person for Medicaid assistance with long-term care. These are irrevocable trusts and any assets put into them at least five full years before applying for Medicaid are protected. The trusts are not perfect, since the trust settlors cannot use any of the principal in the trusts.  However, income can be used.

If you are interested in a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust, talk to an elder law attorney about one and  other options you might have.

Reference: Times Herald-Record (March 8, 2018) "Benefits of Medicaid Asset Protection Trust."

 

Harper Lee’s Will Unveiled

Harper Lee valued her privacy while she was alive. Her will suggests that she also values it in death. MP900398819[1]

After writing To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee mostly kept out of the public eye. She did not release another book for decades and made very few appearances.

She died in 2016. Journalists and literary historians have been attempting to piece together details of the author's life, but they have met with little success. She was a private person and those who knew her have not been willing to talk very much.

Lee’s will has been unsealed but it does not reveal very much either, as Al.com reports in "Harper Lee's will is unsealed but questions about the legend of American literature remain."

Lee's will directs that all of her assets, including literary property, be put into a previously created trust. Details about the trust are not publicly known. There does not appear to be a way to make them public. The trust's beneficiaries and trustee are not known.

What Lee created is known as a pour-over will. It is a simple way to have assets transferred to a trust, after someone passes away. Since trusts do not have to go through probate and are private, this is a great method to use for people who do not want the details of their estates known to the public, as Lee apparently did not.

Reference: Al.com (Feb. 27, 2018) "Harper Lee's will is unsealed but questions about the legend of American literature remain."

Suggested Key Words: Wills, Trusts