Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

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

Princess Diana“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

Sonny and Cher“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.

 

How Michael Jackson’s Estate Plan Was A Success

Michael Jackson

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

Muhammad Ali

“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

Michelle ProfitJohn 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.

The Great Harry Houdini’s Estate Plan

 

Michelle ProfitHarry 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.

Have These Documents Prepared for a Child Headed to College

man kissing a woman's cheek as she holds a gift“There are documents pertaining to health, money, and college records, that your child can sign to give you some peace of mind. Not all of these are required, but you may want to consider if you need them or not.”

There’s no end to what parents and grandparents can worry about, when their child or grandchild heads off to college. Will they make the right decisions, choose good friends and perform well in their studies? One thing you can do to help prepare your college-bound student, is to have certain legal documents prepared before they go, advises getintocollege.com in the article “Legal Documents Your Child Needs to Sign Before Heading to College.”

Once your child turns 18, your access to their medical records ends, unless they complete a form called a HIPAA Authorization. Your child must sign the form to give you access to their records, appointments, test results, etc. If your child is going to a school out of state, you may need a state-specific form. Keep these documents in a safe place, where you can access them quickly, in case of an emergency.

Chances are your student is heading off to college with a debit card and a credit card.  However, do you have access to those accounts? Talk with your estate planning attorney about creating a Financial Power of Attorney form, so you don’t run into any roadblocks, if your child needs help handling their finances. Opening a bank account or having a credit card attached to your account makes it easier for you to transfer money to your student. It also makes it easier for you to keep a watchful eye on their spending. Make a copy of the front and back of all cards so you can easily report them if lost or stolen.

Colleges have a form known as FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), which you usually can obtain at some point during orientation. This is a document that gives you the legal right to your child’s academic and financial information through the college. Think of this as the college’s HIPAA law. It’s not the same, but it can create the same level of obstruction, if you do not address it in advance. With it in place, you’ll be able to discuss their finances with the bursar’s office, their grades with their academic advisor and many other offices in the college that will otherwise refuse to speak with you.

College is a transition time for both students and parents, as well grandparents. Having these documents properly prepared, with the help of an estate planning attorney, will give you some peace of mind, as your child leaves the nest.

Reference: getintocollege.com (March 29, 2018) “Legal Documents Your Child Needs to Sign Before Heading to College.”

 

 

Planned Giving

coins in handsOne of the ways that you can leave a good legacy behind, is to provide money to charity in your estate plan.

Your worth is likely more than the sum total of your assets. You have worth that does not have any direct monetary value. Your capacity to like and love your friends and family cannot be given a monetary value, for example. However, in estate planning, it can often seem like the only thing you will have left at the time you pass away, are assets that have monetary value and need to be given to other people.

You cannot give away your capacity to love after death. However, that does not mean your other value has to be left out of your estate plan completely. You can use your estate plan for planned charitable giving, as the Nashua Telegraph discusses in “Planning to give and leaving a lasting legacy.”

Planned giving is simply making provisions in your estate plan that a certain amount of money or a percentage of your estate’s assets should be given to charity. It is a popular option for people. It is popular not only with the wealthy, but also with people of more modest means who want to leave something behind for good causes.

There are several different ways you can make charitable donations a part of your estate. Some are as simple as a few lines written into a will and others are for more complicated, including setting up special trusts for the purpose. An estate planning attorney can help you choose the best way to do so.

Reference: Nashua Telegraph (May 20, 2018) “Planning to give and leaving a lasting legacy.”

Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts

Joint Tenancy Is a Bad Idea

elder couple with billsAdding a child as the joint tenant of your home to avoid probate is always a very bad idea.

Some bad ideas in estate planning never seem to go away. No matter how many times estate planning attorneys try to tell people that the ideas are bad, people continue to make the same mistakes.

One common mistake is when people try to do their own estate planning to get around probate. For example, a widow may add an adult child as a joint tenant on the deed to her home. While it is true that if all goes according to plan, the child will inherit the house after his mother passes away without the need for probate. This approach can be a bad idea.

Why? Normally, the trouble comes because the child has a creditor who can attach the home to pay off the child’s debts.  However, there are other potential issues, as was recently discussed in the Napa Valley Register in “Can new wife inherit home?

In this case, a married couple added their daughter to the deed as a joint tenant. The wife passed away, which made the father and daughter co-owners of the home. The father then remarried to a much younger woman.

The daughter refused to give up ownership and allow for a new deed allowing the new wife to inherit the home. When the father passes away, the daughter will inherit the home and be free to throw the new wife out if she wants.

Instead of looking for ways to avoid probate on your own, go to an estate planning attorney for assistance. The attorney can give you better ways to accomplish your goals and help you avoid these types of problems.

Reference: Napa Valley Register (April 5, 2018) “Can new wife inherit home?