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

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.

 

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.

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.

Estate Planning with Blended Families Requires a Balance

Generational family smiling

“If you say “I do” a second time and have children, your partnership acquires new stakeholders—not necessarily willing ones. Adult children have expectations about how much they’ll inherit and how soon. A new spouse scrambles that calculus.

When you marry, you’re entering a partnership that is emotional and financial. When you marry again and when there are children from prior marriages, you are all entering a brave new world. The number one reason that stepparents and stepchildren fight is over money, according to the article “Don’t Split Heirs With Your Estate” from AARP.

If you and your spouse are each financially independent and leave your assets to your heirs, you’ll be less likely to run into the big money issues.  However, if one spouse depends on the other for support, assets will be needed for the other spouse’s lifetime. When there’s a big age difference, the children of the older spouse may end up waiting 10 to 15 years for their inheritance.

The couple’s first responsibility should be to their spouses. You can do this through your will, or a prenuptial or a postnuptial agreement. The goal is to make sure that the other spouse has enough money to live on. A surviving spouse does have the right to make a claim to a certain amount of the late spouse’s assets, in the absence of a will or a proper prenup. However, by taking care of this in the will, you can spare each other and your blended family from the time and delay that a claim will take. The award may be large or small, depending upon the laws in your state.

One way to head off some of the anger that may follow a first spouse’s death in a second or subsequent marriage, is to distribute at least a little bit of cash to all of the adult children in equal amounts. It’s not about the amount, but it is a signal that you are aware of them and their needs.

In blended families with good relationships, it would be ideal for children and stepchildren to be treated equally. If there’s a rational reason not to, like younger children who need college education funds, make it clear to all what the thoughts are behind the distribution.

Personal property is another source of conflict within blended families. If first-family heirlooms are claimed by second-family children, the whole family could be headed to court. Create a document that makes your wishes clear about which child should get what possessions and attach it to your will with the help of your estate planning attorney.

If you leave everything to your spouse, there’s no way to be sure your own children will inherit anything. There is a chance that after your death, the ties between children and stepparents could weaken. You may need to leave money for your children in a trust that provides income to the spouse for life.

Discuss your options with an estate planning attorney.

Reference: AARP (July/August 2018)

“Don’t Split Heirs With Your Estate”

Making an Inheritance Work

Draft_lens6229982module49470302photo_1249598396business-man[1]If you receive an inheritance, it should not put you in a worse position than you were before. That happens all too often.

A common myth about people who inherit wealth is that it brings them financial security and they no longer need to worry about money. However, as is the case with people who win the lottery, people who suddenly inherit wealth are often soon in a worse financial position than they were previously.

Most of the time, inheritances do not grow a person's or a family's wealth.

They end up subtracting from it as Chase News & Stories reports in "How to make sure your inheritance is a boon, not a bust."

The biggest problem is overspending, especially on unnecessary things. While it might be fine to splurge on one or two things, spending can quickly snowball until there is nothing left. There is always something more that can be purchased and heirs who are not careful, keep purchasing those somethings.

The best way to prevent this is to plan ahead.

Talk to your older relatives about what inheritance you might receive from their estate plans and ask for guidance in wealth management. Your relatives who have wealth, can teach you how they maintained that wealth.

If you do not know ahead of time that you will receive a large inheritance and get one suddenly, then you can still make plans if you are patient. Do not do anything with the inheritance for at least six months. You should take that time to think carefully and to get good financial advice.

Reference: Chase News & Stories (Nov. 23, 2016) "How to make sure your inheritance is a boon, not a bust."

 

Estate Plans That Work

Bigstock-Senior-Couple-8161132[1]Estate plans that are perfect on paper can later become completely unworkable. To avoid that and have a good estate plan, you need to take a few simple steps after you get an estate plan.

When you walk out of an estate planning attorney’s office with a newly executed estate plan in your hands, do not make the mistake of thinking that your estate planning is complete. You have taken an important step toward having an estate plan your family can use after you pass away.

After you have created your estate plan, there is more that still needs to be done as the Reading Eagle recently explained in “Office Space: 4 steps to a perfect estate plan.”

To make sure that your estate plan will work you still need to:

  • Make sure the people who have important roles in your estate plan are aware of those roles. For example, if you have a general durable power of attorney, then you need to let the designated person know about it so he or she understands what to do should anything happen to you.
  • Let your family in on your plans so they know what is going on and who needs to do what. You do not necessarily need to tell them everything, but they should at least know where to look when the appropriate time comes.
  • Do not keep old financial documents you no longer need for any reason. You do not want your family to waste time trying to track down old accounts that no longer exist after you pass away.
  • Make sure to periodically review your estate plan and keep it up to date with any changes in your circumstances or the circumstances of your heirs and beneficiaries.

Reference: Reading Eagle (Aug. 30, 3016) “Office Space: 4 steps to a perfect estate plan