Three Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons￼
One would assume that celebrities with extreme wealth would take steps to protect their estates. But think again: some of the world’s richest and most famous people enter the pearly gates with no estate plan, while others have made estate planning mistakes that tied up their fortunes and heirs in court for years. Let us look at three high-profile celebrity probate disasters and discover what lessons we can learn from them.
These celebrity probate disasters serve as stark reminders that no one’s wealth is exempt from the legal trouble that can occur without proper estate planning. As always, we are here to help you protect your loved ones and legacy. Give us a call today to discuss protecting your hard-earned money and property and your loved ones.
Trusts & Taxes: What You Need To Know
People often come to us curious – or confused – about the role trusts play in saving on taxes. Given how frequently this issue comes up, here we’re going to explain the tax implications associated with different types of trusts to clarify this issue. Of course, if you need further clarification about trusts, taxes, or any other issue related to estate planning, meet with us for additional guidance.
A living trust uses your Social Security Number as its tax identifier, and this type of trust is not a separate entity from you for tax purposes. However, a living trust is a separate entity from you to avoid the court process called probate, and this is where the confusion regarding taxes often comes from. But before we explain the tax implications of a living trust, let’s first describe how a living trust works.
Three Reasons to Avoid Probate
When you pass away, your family may need to sign certain documents as part of a probate process in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other assets) in your name only and you have not completed a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation.
Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply let you inform the probate court of your wishes – your loved ones still have to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal.
2022 Estate Planning Checkup: Is Your Estate Plan Up-To-Date?
This year, Estate Planning Awareness Week runs from October 17th to 23rd, and one of our primary goals is to educate you on the vital importance of not only preparing an estate plan, but also keeping your plan up-to-date. While you almost surely understand the importance of creating an estate plan, you may not know that keeping your plan current is every bit as important as creating a plan, to begin with.
In fact, outside of not creating any estate plan at all, outdated estate plans are one of the most common estate planning mistakes we encounter. We’ll get called by the loved ones of someone who has become incapacitated or died with a plan that no longer works because it was not properly updated. Unfortunately, once something happens, it’s too late to adjust your plan, and the loved ones you leave behind will be stuck with the mess you’ve left, or they could end up in a costly and traumatic court process that can drag out for months or even years.
Handling S Corporation Interests in Estate Planning: Electing Small Business Trusts and Qualified Subchapter S Trusts
One of the many challenges of owning a small business is determining the appropriate tax classification of the business. When an individual owns a business entity classified either entirely or partially as an S corporation, it is important to seek the guidance of an experienced estate planning attorney and tax advisor when planning for death. Depending on your estate planning goals, the advice provided by these professionals may be very different from the advice given to another business owner.
As you can see, there are various scenarios that should be considered by a business owner when it comes to estate planning with a viable business. And because of certain federal laws, your estate planning must carefully address a business taxed as an S corporation.
5 Smart Ways To Pay For Your Funeral That Won’t Leave Your Family To Foot The Bill
With the cost of a funeral averaging between $7,000 and $12,000 and steadily increasing each year, at the very least, your estate plan should include enough money to cover this final expense. And if you are thinking of simply setting aside money in your will to cover your funeral expenses, you should seriously reconsider, as paying for your funeral through your will can create unnecessary burdens for your loved ones.
Although you can leave money in your will to pay for your funeral expenses, your family won’t be able to access those funds until your estate goes through the court process of probate, which can last months or even years. And since most funeral providers require full payment upfront, your family will likely have to cover your funeral costs out of pocket. Moreover, your loved ones will have to deal with all of this while grieving your death.
Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax
The generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax is a federal tax on an individual’s transfer of property to a person at least two generations below the individual. Generally, GST tax applies to gifts made by an individual to grandchildren or descendants of the grandchildren. Gifts made by an individual to unrelated persons other than the individual’s spouse can also trigger GST tax. The recipients who would trigger GST tax are commonly known as “skip persons.” The GST tax is imposed whether the transfer occurs as a gift during the grandparent’s lifetime or at the grandparent’s death through inheritance by will or trust.
Congress first introduced the GST tax in the mid-1970s to close a loophole that allowed wealthy individuals to evade inheritance taxes by transferring property directly to grandchildren and skipping the grandchildren’s parents, which avoided estate taxes at the first generation.
Anne Heche Dies with Conflict Around Her Will, Leaving Her Sons & Estate in Legal Limbo – Part 2
If Heche had built a Lifetime Asset Protection Trust into the trusts she set up for her kids, she could have not only transferred her assets to her sons upon her death or incapacity, without the need for any court intervention, but she could have also ensured that those assets would transfer with protection from common life events like divorce, debilitating illness, serious accidents, lawsuits, and bankruptcy.
At the same time, the trust would have allowed Anne to establish clear guidelines for the Trustee. This would allow Heche to govern how those assets – which likely include the rights to films, books, and other intellectual property – should (and should not be) to benefit her sons. In this way, Heche could ensure that her artistic legacy is honored, and Homer and Atlas could benefit from her work for generations to come.
Harmless Error Statute – A Saving Grace
When somebody dies without a legally recognized will, their money and property are typically subject to default state rules that determine who will receive it. To assert control over who will receive their money and property and who will wind up their affairs, many people choose to have a will prepared. In order for a will to carry out the person’s wishes, it must be properly prepared and executed, or else the terms of the will may not be followed. However, for individuals who live in a state that has adopted a harmless error statute, even a document that does not meet all of the formal legal requirements of a will may still be considered valid and admitted to probate if they intended it to serve as their will.
These rules are contained in sections 2-502 of the Uniform Probate Code (UPC), which standardizes state laws about wills, trusts, and the probate process. Although intended to be adopted by all fifty states, fewer than half of the states adopted the UPC in its entirety. As a result, there are significant variations in probate law by state.