Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

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.

 

 

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.

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.

Why Is a Power of Attorney So Important?

Elderly couple looking concerned

“……we often receive community questions surrounding powers of attorney (POA), so we decided to take a look at some of the most common misconceptions surrounding a POA.”

Most people understand the basic concept of a last will and testament: a document that directs how assets are to be distributed after someone dies. However, according to an article from A Place For Mom, “5 Misconceptions About a Power of Attorney,” there’s a lot of confusion over this legal document.

Misconception #1–You can sign a power of attorney, even if you are legally incompetent.

Not true. This is one of the most common misconceptions. In fact, if you have a document from a medical doctor that says a person is not competent, that person is no longer able to sign any legal documents. Many people generally think about what they need to do, i.e., accessing a bank account, when an elderly parent can no longer do so.  However, if Dad lost his legal capacity just before a power of attorney or living trust was signed, that’s no longer an option. You’ll have to go through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding through the court to have any control over Dad’s assets.

Misconception #2—You can find a power of attorney document online.

You might find such a document online but it most likely will not be suited to your circumstances. You need to have a power of attorney custom drafted, so it is legal in your state and addresses your family’s needs. Many online documents end up being useless. It’s a big risk to take.

Misconception #3—A power of attorney lets the agent do whatever they want.

The agent under a power of attorney has a legal and fiduciary duty to make decisions in the best interests of the person who named them as power of attorney. They have not been handed a free pass; on the contrary, they have a big responsibility to do the right thing.

Misconception #4—There is one power of attorney.

This is why an estate planning attorney is needed for the power of attorney. There are two main types: a general power of attorney and a limited or special power of attorney. They are named correctly: a general power of attorney allows for buying or selling property or managing assets. A limited or special power of attorney refers to a specific transaction or task. Which one you need, depends on the laws of your state and the circumstances.

Misconception #5—A power of attorney survives death.

All powers of attorney terminate on death. Once a person has passed, so has the authority for their agent to act on their behalf. A durable power of attorney allows the agent to act, in the event of incapacity but not death.

Power of attorney is an important part of an estate plan and requires the specific knowledge of an estate planning or elder law attorney. Don’t wait until it is too late for a family member (or yourself) to have this document prepared and signed.

Resource: A Place For Mom (July 11, 2018) “5 Misconceptions About a Power of Attorney”

 

Now Is a Good Time to Revisit Your Estate Plan

Bigstock-Vintage-brass-telescope-on-ant-44347372“There still are many sound nontax reasons to revisit estate planning and possibly update your prior documents.”

Even with the doubling of the individual estate gift and GST tax exemptions to about $11.2 million per person (and double the amount for married couples), you still need a will, says Forbes in a useful article titled “7 Reasons to Revisit Your Estate Plan, Trump Tax Law Aside.”

A will serves as the primary vehicle to convey your intentions for your assets and explain your legacy. The provisions of the will can be used to designate how assets will be transferred, whether outright to beneficiaries, to existing trusts or into a new trust that is created under the provisions of the will. If you use the will to create a testamentary trust, the will is where you specify the age for distributions to the beneficiaries and other important details. The will is also how you convey your wishes to make a gift to specific institutions and who should receive family heirlooms.

The executor or personal representative of the estate is the person or institution in charge of managing your affairs, after you have passed. The executor gathers all the information about your estate, including assets and debts, filing taxes and administrative tasks. That person is named in the will.

If you have minor children, or a child with a disability, you want to choose a guardian and a successor guardian. If you do not, the court will appoint someone to rear your child(ren), and that may not be the person you would have wanted. Your spouse is always the obvious choice, but there are instances where both parents die unexpectedly, with no plans in place for their children.

There are many different types of trusts used to accomplish different things. They can be used to control assets and their distribution, which is particularly important when minor children are in the family. Trusts should be used when there is an individual in the family with a disability, an addiction or other issues who cannot manage their finances on their own.

Tax planning is a major part of any will. For a long time, estate planning attorneys focused on how assets were titled, so that the first of a married couple to pass would be able to fully use their estate tax credit.  However, the relatively new concept of “portability,” which allows any unused credit from the first spouse to pass to be used for the benefit of the second spouse, eliminates the need for any unused estate tax credit to go into a bypass trust.

Not only do you need a will, but this year you should consider reviewing your will, if you have not done so. The new tax law may have eliminated or reduced some estate tax liability, but it has not eliminated the need for mindful and proactive estate planning.

Reference: Forbes (March 15, 2018) “7 Reasons to Revisit Your Estate Plan, Trump Tax Law Aside”

 

Glen Campbell’s Kids Still Not Allowed to Visit Him


Bigstock-Extended-Family-Outside-Modern-13915094[1]Despite a state law that says otherwise, and that is named after their father, Glen Campbell’s children say that they are still being denied access to their father.

In May, the governor of Tennessee signed a bill providing that family and friends cannot be prohibited from visiting someone by a guardian or someone who has power of attorney without a specific court order. The law is known as the “Glen Campbell/Peter Falk Bill” after two celebrity cases where family access was denied.

Glen Campbell suffers from Alzheimer’s disease and is under the care of his fourth wife in Nashville. Despite the existence of this law, Campbell’s children claim they are still being denied access to their father by the fourth wife.

An online fundraising page has been created to raise funds for their legal case Fox News reports in “Glen Campbell's kids say they can't see their dad, fans raise money.”

This is an unfortunately common occurrence.

Caretakers who do not get along with the family members often deny those family members access. Sometimes it is just done out of spite. However, it is also often done as a way to hide elder abuse and undue influence over someone’s estate plan.

Family members who are denied access have no way of monitoring to make sure their loved ones are being looked after properly. Tennessee took an important step by passing this law, but it is clear that more still needs to be done in that state and throughout the country.

Reference: Fox News (Aug. 8, 2016) “Glen Campbell's kids say they can't see their dad, fans raise money.”