Articles Posted in Estate Planning

Prince’s lack of estate planning in life has made quite a mess for his potential heirs as we have covered in the past. The slow moving probate proceedings are also preventing his estate from fully monetizing his image and collecting potential revenue. This week though the Minnesota probate judge gave the go ahead for the administrator of Prince’s estate to sell six of the late artist’s properties. This order does nothing to touch the much more valuable part of Prince’s estate such as his likeness, music catalogue, personal home or recording studio.

Your Life Out In The Open

But how exactly do we know the extensive real estate listings and assets held by Prince? That is because court proceedings are public knowledge and any court filings in a probate court are public records. That means that when you pass, if you have to go through probate chances are any assets you have at the time of your death will be catalogued and listed. Probate records include wills, estate inventories, letters of administration and other documents relating to the administration and settlement of deceased persons’ estates. These records also contain information on the property of decedents, the identity and relationships of heirs, and legal actions taken to prove wills and settle estates.

A charitable remainder annuity trust or CRAT as is it more commonly known is a type of irrevocable trust that is used to pass on property to a charity while still receiving an income from the assets in the trust. The way it operates is that a fixed amount of income or principal is paid from the CRAT to designated noncharitable beneficiaries, usually the grantor or creator of the trust. After a set term the remainder of the trust is payable to charity.

Multiple Tax Benefits

The CRAT comes with many tax benefits due to its charitable nature. The CRAT pays no income tax on its income. The CRAT is not taxed on any gain it realizes upon selling appreciated property either at the time of donation or any appreciation occurring after the donation. Furthermore the grantor of the trust created during his or her lifetime is entitled to an immediate income and gift tax deduction equal to the amount of the present value of the remainder interest passing to charity.

In order to make and execute a valid will under New York law, a person must meet certain requirements. One of these requirements is that the testator or person creating his or her will have testamentary capacity. Testamentary capacity refers to a person’s ability to understand and execute a will. Generally, most people over the age of 18 who have reached legal adulthood are considered competent to make and sign a will. They understand the nature of the document they are creating and signing, the property that will be passed and understand the effects that the document will have after their death.

One of the most common bases for contesting a will is that a person lacked testamentary capacity and for good reason. There are many ways a person can lack testamentary capacity and many of them relate to illnesses and conditions that are common in old age. In particular, challenges arising out of accusations of the testator being mentally incompetent or under undue influence are not rare, especially if the testator is of advanced age.

Mentally Incompetent

Making an estate plan tends to be something people ignore until the last minute. These documents are considered important, but only for those who are old or dying. Why would a person under 40 need an estate plan?

Estate planning is a safety net. It is there if the unthinkable happens. If you die or are incapacitated, a proper estate plan can help to make sure your loved ones aren’t left to pick up the pieces.

Decision Making

Parents believe that leaving their children the family home is a great boon but experience shows that beneficiaries are not happy with the bequest.

For many people in the United States chances are that their house is their most valuable asset. It makes sense then for most parents to leave their most valuable asset to their children. But this common inheritance is only a blessing for a small few of beneficiaries and a burden on most others.

Not A Quick Sell

Newly proposed IRS regulations meant to curb common estate and gift tax planning tactics is being met with a firestorm of resistance from financial advisers and estate planners across the country. The proposed regulations (REG-163113-02) place limitations on the use of current valuation discounts that reduce the overall value of assets in family-owned businesses, thus lowering a decedent’s estate and gift tax liability at the time of death. The IRS hope to achieve this end by disregarding restrictions that enabled taxpayers to use these discounts in the past.

Wealth Preservation In Closely Held Businesses

Currently, interests in closely held businesses are not taxed the same as other property interests due to their illiquid nature. Many tax and estate planners put a family’s assets in a closely held business to reduce their estate and gift tax liability. While this is a boon for many families seeking to preserve their wealth, others argue that what started out as a helpful tax break for legitimate family businesses is being abused and exploited by those who have no legitimate use of it.

It is common knowledge that in order for a New York will to be valid that there must be other people to witness you signing your will as well as putting down their own signatures on your will. Despite this knowledge though improper execution of the will is the most common reason that a will is found to be invalid.

Why Do I Need Witnesses At All?

Witnesses provide an important evidentiary function to the probate process. Witnesses to your signing can provide first-hand accounts of the execution of the will. If a will is ever contested, the witnesses can testify about the procedures that were followed when executing the will, the testamentary capacity of the testator as well as the mental capacity of the testator.

The Durable Power of Attorney is a powerful estate planning tool that everyone should have. Properly drafted, a Durable Power of Attorney allows for the right person to be able to manage your affairs when you are physically or mentally unable to do so. However, a Durable Power of Attorney goes into effect once executed and generally grants someone else great power to make decisions for you and to enter into agreements on your behalf. Many people may be uncomfortable granting these powers to someone else while they are still capable of managing their own affairs. Is it possible to delay the effects of a Durable Power of Attorney?

What Is A Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that is used to delegate legal authority to another. The person who signs a Power of Attorney is called the Principal. The Power of Attorney gives legal authority to another person called the Agent or Attorney-in-Fact to make financial and legal decisions for the Principal. The authority that the Principal grants the Agent can be as broad or narrow as the Principal wishes. It is entirely dependent on what powers the documents grants the agent.

Beneficiaries Often Treat An Inheritance As A Windfall And Spend It As Such

You spend your entire life working hard, accumulating wealth and you want to pass it onto your children, to provide for them and their families after you have passed. But will they appreciate your life’s earnings or will they blow through it without a second thought? Unfortunately, more likely than not any inheritance that you leave behind will most likely be spent much faster than it was earned, and the statistics are alarming.

“From shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations” the old saying goes and the research shows that the sentiment is true. One third of people who received an inheritance had negative savings within two years. Even if the wealth does last past the first generation to receive it, 70 percent of inheritances are completely gone by the end of the second generation.

An Often Overlooked Power in Durable Power of Attorney Documents

Your elderly mother lives and intends to continue residing in Florida. You live in New York. She becomes mentally incapacitated and you move her in with you to take good care of her. You are her agent as designated by her Durable Power of Attorney documents and you manage and handle all of her affairs like taking her to the doctor and getting her the attention she needs but you start to run into some problems when you attempt to enroll her in your state’s Medicare program and other entitlement programs. The power of attorney documents do not give you the power to establish her domicile. Even though your mother resides in New York now she still is domiciled in Florida and only qualifies for assistance in Florida.

How do you establish a new domicile and what is a domicile? Traditionally, establishing a new domicile is easy. Wherever you consider home, the place you intend to indefinitely stay, is your domicile. Proof of being domiciled in a certain state typically includes where your primary residence is, where you vote and where your family and children live. This is different from where your residence is. You can have multiple residences but only one domicile.

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