Monthly Archives:: September 2022

Anne Heche Dies with Conflict Around Her Will, Leaving Her Sons & Estate in Legal Limbo – Part 1

Actress Anne Heche died this August following a tragic car accident in which she plowed her vehicle into a West Los Angeles home, where it burst into flames. After being pulled from the wreckage, the Emmy Award-winning actress was hospitalized in critical condition, suffering from severe burns and smoke inhalation.

The fiery accident left Heche brain dead and comatose, but she was kept on life support for seven days in order to identify a suitable recipient for her organs, which was in line with the actress’ wishes, according to a statement from her publicist. After a successful match with organ donors, Heche was removed from life support on August 14th, and she died shortly thereafter. She was 53 years old. READ MORE

Things to Consider Before Accepting Your Inheritance

An inheritance, like the loss of a loved one, can be life-changing. While there is no law that requires you to accept an inheritance, there are sometimes good reasons for doing so. And if you choose to turn down a gift, that does not mean it will end up in the hands of the state. Before accepting or rejecting an inheritance, you might seek legal and tax advice about the implications of either decision.

An estate plan contains instructions for distributing a person’s money and property when they pass away. Some families discuss who will receive certain accounts or property. For example, maybe all of the kids are asked if they would like to inherit an item from mom’s collection of family heirlooms. READ MORE

President Biden’s Student Debt Relief Plan Explained with FAQS

This August, President Biden, Vice President Harris, and the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) announced a three-part plan to help low and middle-income families deal with the increasingly burdensome cost of paying for college while also making the student loan system more efficient and easier for borrowers to manage. The most dramatic part of the plan includes the cancellation of up to $20,000 in student loan debt, which would benefit an estimated 43 million borrowers, and completely cancel the debt of 20 million.

Since 1980, the cost of public and private colleges has nearly tripled, yet federal assistance hasn’t kept pace with the increased expense. Indeed, Pell Grants once covered roughly 80% of the cost of a four-year public college degree, but today they cover just one-third. This has forced many students to rely on student loans, and today’s typical undergraduate student leaves college with nearly $25,000 in debt, according to the DOE. READ MORE

Top Four Estate Planning Questions to Answer When Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

From a financial perspective, now is a good time to start planning for your child. As you are probably aware, the ART process can be expensive. Having a proper financial plan can help alleviate some of your worries during the process. Raising a child is also expensive; the cost of food, clothing, shelter, toys, and education must be considered. Even if you are not expecting a child imminently, setting money aside or preparing a budget to accommodate these expenses can put you on the right financial path.

When it comes to addressing your child in your estate plan, including who will be the child’s guardian if something should happen to you, how much money the child will receive, and when the child will receive an inheritance, it is best to wait until the child is soon born. While you can plan for a potential child, your estate planning documents will be clearer if you plan for things as they are at the time of drafting. However, you can still create an estate plan now and change your plan when a child is born. Creating an estate plan is not a one-and-done event. It must change and evolve as your, and your family’s circumstances change. READ MORE

Selling Real Estate Or A Business? Avoid Capital Gains Tax With A Charitable Remainder Trust

If you have a sale of real estate or assets coming up that will result in you owing capital gains tax, you may want to give us a call to discuss whether to set up a Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) first. Think of it this way: would you rather pay taxes and send your hard-earned money to the government, or use that same money to provide yourself with a lifetime of income and support your favorite charity at the same time?

CRTs offer a number of benefits to everyone involved. These trusts allow you to contribute to your most beloved charities while also generating a valuable extra source of income for the beneficiaries, which can assist with retirement, paying off taxes, or being used for additional estate planning purposes. Such trusts aren’t for everyone, so call us to see if a CRT fits in with your planning goals. READ MORE

Right of Occupancy Trust: A Trust to Protect Your Home and Your Loved Ones

A right of occupancy trust allows you to designate a beneficiary to live at your residence or use another piece of real estate for a designated time period or until the beneficiary dies or moves away. To implement this strategy, you include a provision in either your last will and testament or trust agreement that places the real property into a separate sub-trust overseen by the trustee you have selected. The terms of this provision may allocate money to the sub-trust to cover the property’s maintenance expenses. Instructions are also included that outline the beneficiary’s rights and responsibilities, as well as any responsibilities that the trustee will need to undertake on the trust’s behalf.

Finally, the trust instrument directs what happens to the property once the beneficiary passes away. You could choose to keep the property in the trust to be used by another beneficiary or give it outright to a beneficiary. Alternatively, the trustee may sell the property (unless doing so would adversely impact homestead or other rights) and hold the money in trust for someone’s benefit or distribute it outright to a chosen beneficiary. (Selling the property can have adverse impacts on homestead status, and the trustee should get legal advice before selling.) READ MORE

Protect Your Aging Loved Ones From Undue Influence

Following the death of a loved one, close family members are sometimes surprised to learn that they didn’t receive the inheritance they were expecting and that the deceased instead left most of their estate to an individual they only recently met, who wasn’t even a relative. While it’s not always the case, in some situations, this can mean your loved one was taken advantage of by a bad actor, who manipulated him or her into cutting out close family members from their plan and leaving assets to the bad actor instead. 

This is called “undue influence,” and it’s not only unethical, it’s illegal and considered a form of elder abuse. Given the growing number of seniors, the prevalence of diminished capacity associated with aging, and the concentration of wealth among elderly Baby Boomers, we’re likely to see a serious surge in the number of cases involving undue influence in the coming years. READ MORE

Think Your Estate Plan is Complete? Make Sure You’re Not Missing These Important Points

Roughly two-thirds of Americans do not have an estate plan. If you are among the minority of US adults who have prepared a will, living trust, and other end-of-life documents, you may think your estate plan is settled. But you might want to think again. An estate plan is a living set of documents that should be regularly reviewed and updated. Even if you are vigilant about changing your estate plan over time, there may be aspects that you have missed, such as beneficiary designations for retirement accounts or life insurance policies.

Because your estate plan relies on others, such as designated decision-makers and beneficiaries, it is important to consider not only what might happen to you but also what might happen to them. There may be other aspects of your estate plan that you have overlooked as well. The best-laid plans often go awry, but paying attention to the smallest details can help keep your final wishes intact. READ MORE