Americans love our furry friends. In fact, the richest dog in the world died in 2011. For those who don’t already know the story, Leona Helmsley was a wealthy hotel mogul who disinherited all her family and $12 million in trust for her dog, Trouble. She was known for her malcontent and often cruel nature, which earned her the title, “The Queen of Mean.” She died in 2007, but Trouble lived until 2011. Stories like this are becoming more common with time. Many people, however, wonder how they would possible create a trust for a pet. Fortunately, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has several great tips that everyone should consider when planning a pet trust.

Identifying the beloved pet

A vehicle has a VIN number, a home usually has a PIN number and a deed, but a cat has no such “FUR number.” And, although we all like to think our pet is as unique as a snowflake, a bank’s trust manager or the relative you selected to be the trustee may not be able to tell your loveable cat from the neighbor’s stray. At a minimum, here are some options to consider:

1. Get the pet micro chipped and provide the registration information to your estate-planning attorney to be listed in your trust.

2. Take photographs of the pet and attach medical and dental records, if available.

3. Provide your attorney with contact information for the pet’s regular veterinarian.

Consider drafting a separate statement or letter to the trustee

Although a trust has a lot of wonderful legalese about taxes, payments, and so forth, it may not contain a lot of heartfelt discussion of Fluffy’s typical day-to-day routine and lifestyle. If she is used to receiving a full body massage by the pool every morning, then that should be included in the letter. If she is on a special diet, that too should be included. The trust can include a reference stating that the trustee is to exercise reasonable measures to ensure these things are maintained so long as financially viable.

Make sure your trustee knows something about the type of pet (or can retain someone who does)

Not everyone has a dog or cat. There is a growing trend to collect exotic pets, like bears, tigers, and tropical birds. So, if you have a pet tiger you raised by infancy, it is likely the trust management team at Downhome Bank and Trust will have no clue what to do with the pet when you die. Your trust should give some guidance on how to deal with the animal. One way to do this is to consult an expert or local exotic animal handler who will agree to provide consulting services to the trustee for a designated period of time and at an agreed upon price. This way, after you pass away, the trustee can simply contact that person to find out how to best arrange care for the pet.

Don’t forget your pet’s final expenses

As with humans, pet funerals and cremation services can be costly, and finding a business that performs these services can be fairly difficult, especially if you do not live in a major metropolitan area. Therefore, you will want to plan ahead by contacting potential pet funeral services. Just like humans, pet funeral providers often offer prepaid burial plans. This is a great way to fix the cost early so that the trustee is not spending considerable time and effort searching for these services later, thereby spending more trust money that could be put toward your pet’s daily living expenses.

There are many more considerations that need to be discussed with your estate-planning attorney and your chosen trustee. It is advisable that you consider reaching out to animal rights groups, such as the ASPCA, for further guidance on how to properly prepare for your pet’s future after you are no longer able to provide the care.

Once upon a time, there were these somewhat sexist laws called “dower and curtesy.” These laws applied to the specific amount of a decedent’s estate to which his or her surviving spouse would be entitled. They were usually very different; men received more than women. Over the years, these laws were abolished and made way for their modern counterparts – the elective share. Most states have enacted some variation of an elective share statute, which states that surviving spouses are automatically entitled to a specific share – usually around one-third – of their deceased spouse’s estate.

While it may seem harsh to disinherit a spouse, there are often many reasons to do so. For instance, couples that marry late in life after raising their own children may each have substantial assets from prior marriages and from their working careers. Each person may wish to provide for their own descendants rather than seeing their entire estate pass to another family line. This is just one common example.

So, is it impossible to disinherit one’s spouse? Hardly. There are several ways to limit or eliminate a spousal inheritance.

Joint Accounts and Payable-on-Death Accounts

Say a person has $100,000 in liquid cash sitting in several CD’s and bank accounts. This money can be placed in joint accounts with adult children, other family members, or even trusted friends. Upon death, the funds in such accounts will automatically be transferred to the surviving joint account holder without ever passing through the probate estate. This may cause litigation, however, but with proper planning and competent legal advice, it can be easily achieved. Similarly, it can be as simple as making an existing account “payable-on-death” or “transfer-on-death.” These accounts have roughly the same effect as a joint account.

Establish a Trust

Unlike a simple will, which generally must be probated, a trust is not a probate asset. Although there are exceptions to the rule, the use of a trust can omit a spouse or limit the inheritance that he or she receives. Moreover, trusts allow more control following death than a will. Some attorneys like to explain the difference by saying wills are your final utterance to those you love, declaring your intent and wishes, while trusts continue to speak from the grave for decades. This is because trusts have a unique ability to continue controlling how money is used and dispersed to loved ones, even for many years after death.

Lifetime Gifts

Your estate is simply what you have when you die. If you have nothing, your spouse cannot inherit anything. So, when you are nearing the end of life, you can always just write checks to those you love and be done with the whole matter. Now, of course you may need some money to live on. Therefore, you should only do this is you truly trust the people you are giving all your money to, but if they are trustworthy, you could make an arrangement for them to assist with your care and pay your bills with the money you give them. Whatever is left is theirs to keep. Again, however, use extreme caution with such a plan. Further, this sort of action may have catastrophic implications for Medicaid eligibility, should you need long-term care. Do not even consider giving away significant amounts of cash or property without first discussing it with an estate planning attorney.

Divorce May be the Best Option

Ultimately, if you really want to disinherit a spouse, divorce is always the best option to disinherit a spouse without the likelihood of a court undoing your decision. In fact, in most states a will that leaves a bequest to an ex-spouse is automatically invalid. So, if you do not care for the person anyway, rather than attempting complex estate planning, a divorce might just be the ticket. Just be sure you look at your life insurance policies, 401(k) accounts, bank accounts, and other assets that may still be jointly owned or name your spouse as a beneficiary.

Gene Chandler (aka Eugene Dixon) was one of the more prominent figures in mid-Twentieth Century Soul and R&B. In 1962, he released his biggest hit – The Duke of Earl. Following this award winning number one billboard hit, he began to refer to himself as the Duke of Earl. However, according to court documents in Cook County, Illinois, the Duke of Earl had a very troubled life, from felony convictions for Heroine possession to fathering well over 20 children by many women. Late in life, he married a wealthy real estate mogul, Lilli Kinnard, who already had children of her own.

Just before his wealthy wife passed away from cancer, her will mysteriously was changed to entirely disinherit her children, leaving millions to the Duke. In fact, the new will made no mention of her children and instead named several of Chandler’s children from prior relationships as successor executors. Even more shocking, the attorneys who drafted the new will were the same ones that helped the Duke negotiate his prenuptial agreement with Kinnard.

Today, Chandler is still embroiled in an ongoing will contest case and several supplemental proceedings involving allegations of fraudulent transfers of business and real estate assets, unlawful attempts to defraud creditors, and undue influence. This case, however, teaches a couple invaluable lessons.

Consultation Clauses

If you are in a marriage where there is any suspicion that your spouse may take advantage of you or abuse your relationship if you become weakened by illness or mental impairment, you can place a clause in your will that states the will is irrevocable without evidence of consultation with an attorney of your choosing. This is only advisable if you have been a long-time client and know that the attorney will be around and able to assist later if needed. You can select several names just in case. Although some courts may not always honor the clause, there is nothing to say you cannot put a brief explanation of the clause in your will. Thus, in the event your spouse does what is alleged in the Duke’s case, the court will at least be on notice that you did not have the representation you desired and it will raise red flags.

Will Retention

While most estate-planning attorneys will tell you they do not retain wills, it is possible to simply place the original will in a safe deposit box and inform at least one trusted individual of its location in the event of your death. By doing so, there is no chance of someone forcing you to destroy it or invalidate it in some way. This, of course, says nothing of writing a new will that revokes the original one; however, it is one method of preventing someone from getting rid of one of your most important legal documents.

Make Powers of Attorney Irrevocable

If you suspect someone may try to use a position of authority or dominance to revoke your powers of attorney or obtain new ones naming them as your agent, simply name someone you trust – perhaps an adult child or close friend – as your agent. In the powers of attorney, you can create language that makes the document irrevocable, even if your state has a statute that allows revocation in spite of mental incompetence. Although no efforts are foolproof and courts can often make decisions contrary to your wishes, this is another potential method of preventing abuses later.

Ultimately, nothing is absolute; you should always consult your attorney to determine the most effective way of preventing abuses and late life tragedies like those alleged in the Duke of Earl case. Whether allegations are substantiated or not, the fact that Kinnard’s children and Chandler have been forced to endure years of costly litigation is yet another testament to the need for careful estate planning paired with regular consultation with an experienced attorney.

Supplemental Needs Trusts (also called Special Needs Trusts) have become fairly popular in recent years. These trusts are designed to protect a disabled person’s assets in order to ensure the greatest amount of funds available for care and support. In 1993, Congress passed legislation in 42 U.S.C. § 1396 et seq. that specifically allows a disabled person to exempt assets from public aid determinations. You can click here to read more about how the government treats these unique trusts. One look at the complex federal regulations that control these trusts should be reason enough to consult an experienced elder law attorney to find out if it is right for your situation.

How much money can a disabled person keep and still be eligible for public aid?

In general, for a person to qualify for Medicaid, he or she must be impoverished. This means having less than $2000 in personal assets. Previously, there were fairly strict provisions that made it difficult for a disabled person to keep assets and still qualify for Medicaid funding of long-term care. Nursing home and rehabilitation costs can be exceedingly expensive, and people are often concerned that a disabled family member could quickly spend all of their assets on care and support before qualifying for government assistance.

How does a Supplemental Needs Trust help protect assets?

While there are many complex laws that govern this area, as a general rule, the law allows 2 types of these trusts: “Self-settled” and “Third-party.”

1. Self-settled Supplemental Needs Trusts

A self-settled trust is one that is funded with the disabled person’s own assets. This is common where the disabled person perhaps receives a settlement in a lawsuit or had a sizable net worth prior to becoming disabled. In these cases, Medicaid may have certain limitations on how the funds are used, and generally upon the death of the disabled person, his or her estate will have to “pay back” Medicaid for any public aid paid on his or her behalf. Therefore, if years of care are provided, there may not be much left to distribute to heirs. The goal of these trusts is not to preserve an inheritance so much as it is to provide for the well being of the disabled person for life.

2. Third-party Supplemental Needs Trusts

A third-party trust is one that is funded with somebody else’s assets. This is common where a family member leaves an inheritance to the trust or places personal assets in the trust for the disabled person. There are many creative ways for an elder law attorney to arrange this. The greatest difference between this and a self-settled trust is that these are not readily available to the disabled person. Indeed, someone else is the primary beneficiary and acts as trustee, thereby giving someone else control over the use of the funds. Some parents of disabled adult children choose to establish these trusts and name another child to act as trustee. This way, following their death, they can be confident that their other children will have the necessary assets to take care of their disabled sibling, while permitting the disabled sibling to receive public benefits.

Despite these clever estate planning tools, there are many exceptions and limitations on the use of trust funds that require an attorney’s careful review. Naturally, no plan is 100 percent foolproof; all trusts come with their own unique pros and cons depending on your own circumstances.

How does joint tenancy avoid probate?

Let’s use a simple example: the family home. When an aging widow places her home in joint tenancy with an adult daughter, they both immediately are entitled to possession and ownership. Each has the same rights. If the property is rented, each is entitled to the entire rent equally. Therefore, the law generally considers the widow’s action as a gift to her daughter. Likewise, upon the widow’s death, the house is immediately the sole possession of the daughter and not part of the probate estate. In other words, it passes outside of probate.

So what is wrong with joint tenancy?

Well, the example above sounds terrific if you are the daughter. However, what if there are four other adult children. Often, rather than executing a carefully planned will or trust, an elderly person will be advised to simple put the house in joint tenancy and instruct the joint tenant to sell it and split the money with her siblings. As one can likely detect, there is a huge potential for abuse here. What if the daughter gets greedy and does not want to share? There is no probate court to make her do what her mother asked. And even if siblings brought her to court in a lawsuit, unless the mother was incompetent at the time she set up joint tenancy, the court will honor her wishes and allow the daughter to keep it all. There are, in fact, many tragic examples of joint accounts gone wrong.

Similarly, people often do the same thing with bank accounts, placing large sums of money in jointly owned CDs, brokerage accounts, and bank accounts. Upon death, the balance belongs solely to the joint tenant, and it can be very difficult to pursue legal actions to distribute the money to other heirs, because just as with the home, the funds passed only to that person. Moreover, because that joint tenant immediately has an undivided 100% interest in the money, he or she can simply go to the bank and remove all the money, even while the widow is still living. So, in the above example, if the widow put all her money in a joint account with her daughter, that daughter could go to the bank and remove all of it the next day and claim it was a gift. If the widow wants it back, she will almost certainly have to sue her daughter and convince a court that she did not intend a gift to one daughter to the exclusion of the other children. This can be an uphill battle, and the litigation is very costly. Even worse, it tears families apart and pits siblings against each other in ways that can be far worse than simply probating a will.

There are sensible alternatives to joint tenancy

A far more sensible approach than joint tenancy or joint bank accounts is to meet with an experienced estate-planning attorney, and after considering all the pros and cons, lay out a workable plan that protects children, reduces taxes, and preserves assets. This may include a combination of wills, trusts, detailed powers of attorney, and yes, even joint tenancy. There are also “payable on death” or “transfer on death” accounts, which allow the owner to retain sole possession during life and pass to someone else only upon death. Likewise, some states permit “convenience accounts,” which are joint accounts designed solely for the owner’s use and convenience, yet they allow someone else to have access. Further, simple powers of attorney can be a great tool as well. They create a fiduciary relationship that legally requires the agent to handle the assets properly but does not give the agent all the money.

While there can be good reasons for setting up joint accounts, they rarely make for a good alternative to comprehensive analysis of an estate planning attorney and a sound, well-informed estate plan.

Estate planning attorneys are frequently asked a troubling question: what’s the quickest, cheapest, and easiest way to just avoid probate altogether? Of course, you can never expect an attorney to provide a blanket response to that question. It is similar to asking your doctor, “What’s the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to avoid heart disease?” The answer in both cases will undoubtedly depend on many things. For the doctor to give an informed response, he or she would need to perform blood tests, get some idea of your history, lifestyle choices, eating habits, family history, and so forth.

The same is somewhat true of offering a comprehensive estate plan. It is, after all, designed to protect you and your family later. So, your attorney will likely need to know your net worth, what real estate you own, your relationship with your children, siblings, and other relatives, your goals, career, income, and your level of health. These are just a few of the issues that go into deciding how to properly establish your estate plan. This warrants discussion, because people continue to find themselves engulfed in painful litigation against their own family, often despite good intentions.

Every year many Americans are fooled into choosing quick fixes to “avoid probate.” In many ways, a complete misunderstanding of the probate process has perpetuated this mentality. In fact, web-based “self-help” legal services are often the worst culprit. But if handled properly by an experienced attorney, probate can be a powerful and straightforward process for settling a decedent’s affairs. Some sadly choose to simply open joint bank accounts with an adult child or close friend and then place all of their money in those accounts with simple instructions regarding how they want the money spent upon death. Many people also do the same thing with their homes, automobiles, and other types of property, thereby completely avoiding probate. But this is not a wise strategy.

Types of property ownership

There are several ways a person can hold title to property in America. First, they can own property individually, meaning it is solely in their name. They have 100% of the ownership interest, and upon death the property will pass to their estate to go through the probate process.

Second, one can also share ownership with other people as “tenants in common,” which means each person holds a one-half divided interest. So, people who own property this way can, depending on the nature of the property, generally sell their own interest without affecting the other owner’s rights. However, neither owner can simply take the whole asset and claim it absent the other owner’s permission.

Third, one can share ownership with someone as “joint tenants,” meaning that each person has an undivided 100% interest. This means either person holds a complete interest in the whole asset. Married people can hold property as tenants by the entirety, which closely resembles joint tenancy.

Later this week we will discuss joint tenancy–the benefits, pitfalls, and alternatives.

Julius Schaller was a Hungarian-American immigrant was a wealthy grocery store owner who had acquired substantial assets that exceeded the threshold for paying estate taxes. In order to avoid the tax burden, he established a special scholarship foundation for Hungarian immigrants who pursue performing arts. He named it the Educational Assistance Foundation for Descendants of Hungarian Immigrants in the Performing Arts. Estate planning attorneys often create such organizations for wealthy individuals. However, it must be a legitimate nonprofit organization.

The foundation was established as a nonprofit organization and granted tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. But there was a catch. The foundation was a rouse. It hardly advertised the scholarship, and during the first two years of operation, the scholarships were only awarded to his heirs – specifically a nephew, niece, and another member of the family. This is a problem.

The IRS does not take kindly to those who set up fake organizations under the guise of providing a legitimate scholarship or philanthropic service to the public. As such, the IRS revoked the foundation’s nonprofit status, and litigation ensued.

Why did Schaller set up the Foundation?

Back when Schaller set up the foundation, an estate could only have up to $1 million before the estate tax kicked in. In his case, he had about $2.5 million in excess of the $1 million limit. So, he placed $2,595,847 in his foundation, thereby entirely avoiding a single dollar in estate taxes. Today, a person may exempt up to $5.4 million from estate taxes. This makes it far less appealing for many Americans to try schemes this today.

What made the scholarship illegitimate?

There were two basic reasons why a federal court held that the foundation was not eligible for tax exemption. First, it was “organized and operated exclusively for the benefit of Julius Schaller’s will.” See the full-text of the decision here. Second, the organization misstated key facts in its application for tax-exempt status.

The law is clear that to qualify for tax-exempt status, it must be organized for the exclusive purpose of benefiting a “public interest” rather than a “private interest.” This means you cannot establish a tax-exempt organization that benefits only your own family members. In fact, the federal court went a step further and said that none of the nonprofit organization’s funds could be paid to family and heirs of the person who created the nonprofit organization.

Additionally, Schaller’s application for 501(c)(3) status included a statement that there would be a 3-person committee made up of education professionals who would decide who received scholarships. In truth, during the first two years of operation, no such committee was formed, and only two people were involved in the decisions. Thus, the IRS viewed this as a “material misrepresentation” of the operation of the foundation. The federal court agreed, thereby retroactively revoking Schaller’s foundation and assessing hefty taxes on his estate.

This should serve as an enduring lesson that including philanthropic bequests in an estate plan can be an excellent way to reduce tax consequences; however, it must be legitimate and solely for the benefit of the public, not family and heirs.

The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) issued a new alert regarding the transfer of brokerage accounts upon death. This report has important information for people who are considering using brokerage accounts as part of their estate plans. The alert informs current brokerage account holders, family members, and their other beneficiaries about the processes involved when the account holder passes away.

What is FINRA?

FINRA is the largest independent regulator in the world for all securities that do business in the United States. The organization’s main purpose is to provide investor protection and ensure market integrity through effective and efficient regulation. Some of FINRA’s responsibilities include registering and educating industry participants, examining security firms, writing and enforcing rules, and educating public participants in the market. FINRA also offers dispute resolution for security firms and participants in the securities market.

Contents of the Alert

Entitled “Plan for Transition: What You Should Know about the Transfer of Brokerage Account Assets on Death,” the alert informs the holders of non-retirement brokerage accounts about the steps necessary to conduct a smooth transition of assets from one generation to the next. The senior vice president of FINRA said that “FINRA’s new Securities Helpline for Seniors brought the importance of this issue to our attention, and we hope investors who read this alert will be better prepared to take action.”

FINRA’s alert provides tips and information for making the brokerage asset transfer as efficient as possible and free of issues for the account holder’s heirs. The report also asks potential brokerage account holders to consider whether a Transfer on Death Plan (TOD) is the right estate planning tool for them. A TOD account works by allowing an account holder to manage their assets during their lifetime, and upon their death the assets in the account automatically pass to named beneficiaries.

Tips for Transition

The “Plan for Transition” provides a number of tips for account holders and beneficiaries regarding the transfer process of brokerage account assets. This information applies to the account holders, their family members responsible for collecting information, and possible beneficiaries to the account. These informational points in the report include the following:

· Have a conversation with family members and be as open as possible about the brokerage account holdings.
· Keep track of account statements and trade confirmations. This can help beneficiaries locate the information and notify the firm about the death.
· Work with the brokerage firm to discuss assets, last wishes, and important aspects of the asset transfer process.
· Take the time to carefully consider your beneficiaries and check to see that all of the proper forms are filled out to transfer the account assets upon death. You can always ask the firm to send you the current list of beneficiaries for the account and make any necessary changes.

Most of the estate planning tips and tricks revolve around plans for couples; however, a single person’s estate plan is just as important. In many circumstances, the way that a single person structures their estate plan and who is named differs from an estate plan of a couple. Just as with couples, if a single person fails to properly plan there can be dire consequences for an estate.

Dying Without a Will

If a single person dies without a will, then they are considered intestate. All of the assets in their estate go into probate, and the court will disperse the assets according to state law. Because there is no spouse, typically the court will split the estate between any children, parents, and siblings. If there are no close living relatives, then all of the assets in the estate are forfeit to the state. This worst case scenario highlights the importance of titling various assets, beneficiary designations, and how an estate plan can help a single person.

Estate Planning Essentials

Even having the basic, essential estate planning documents can drastically affect the outcome of your estate. This is even more important if you have a committed, non-married partner or have plans to distribute your assets that are not in accordance with state law. A basic estate plan can also help a single person in the case that you become incapacitated physically or mentally.

The most important estate planning tool is a will. This dictates what assets should go to what people or organizations after your death. You can also use a will to name guardians for minor children and assign an executor to the estate. If you do not have any close relatives, consider a close friend or attorney to be the executor of your estate.

Another important aspect of a single person’s estate plan is a durable power of attorney. This document names someone to make all of your legal and financial decisions in case you become incapacitated and cannot make decisions on your own behalf. A married person usually names a spouse, but a single person needs to consider who they believe will make the most informed choices for them.

Finally, consider using accounts for your estate plan that name a beneficiary, and then put time into considering who you wish to inherit those accounts. Beneficiary designation accounts include retirement accounts, IRAs, 401(k)’s, life insurance, annuities, and more. However, you should review and update beneficiary accounts every few years to ensure that they are up to date.

Planning for Estate Taxes

Federal estate taxes do not apply to a single person’s estate until it surpasses the exemption level, which for 2015 is $5.43 million. If you are single because you are widowed, the federal exclusion amount can also include the unused tax amount from your deceased spouse. However, you must also consider state estate taxes or inheritance taxes. These exemption levels can be much lower and the tax rate much higher than the federal level. It is important to check and see if your state’s estate taxes will apply to you.

Riley B. King, also known as famed blues musician B.B. King, passed away on May 14 and left behind a contentious estate battle between his children and manager. One of his daughters, Patty King, claimed in an interview that her father did well by his children and is now leading the charge against her father’s business manager, LaVerne Toney, of 39 years. Five of his eleven surviving children have all made claims of serious wrongdoing against the manager.

Accusations against the Manager

Patty King and her half-sister, Karen Williams, are leading the case against Ms. Toney. Some claims include not allowing the children to see Mr. King, providing improper medical care, and possibly even poisoning the famous musician in his final days. Because of the claims of possible homicide, the coroner conducted an autopsy and is awaiting toxicology results before rendering a final opinion. However, these types of tests could take weeks to return a result.

Furthermore, the children of B.B. King claim that Ms. Toney looted their father’s bank accounts for more than one million dollars and misled the children about Mr. King’s finances. Ms. King and Ms. Williams believe that the total estate should be between five and ten million dollars; however, in a prior attempt to gain guardianship over the estate the daughters claimed that their father had tens of millions of dollars in assets.

Response to the Allegations

Ms. Toney claims that these allegations are false, without merit, and defamatory. She was named as Mr. King’s executor for his estate based upon his last will. However, his children have filed a formal objection and challenge her position as executor. Ms. Toney’s attorney has gone on the record claiming that the musician’s children are simply after more money and that the estate is not worth nearly what the daughters believe it to be.

Contentious Estate Battles

This is not the first, nor will it be the last, contentious estate battle over the assets of someone of fame. Some of the most recent and notorious estate battles include fights over the assets of Michael Jackson, Robin Williams, Ernie Banks, Casey Kasem, Marlon Brando, and Ray Charles. All of these battles were finished only after long and costly court cases that threw details of their estate into the public eye and brought out the worst in family members. However, the battle over B.B. King’s estate is fairly unique in the daughters’ claims of murder by their father’s business manager.

The battle over B.B. King’s estate, and others, provide valuable lessons regarding the importance of avoiding contentious fights about an estate. Estate battles are common even among the common people, and fame is not a requisite for an ugly fight between heirs. One of the easiest ways to avoid contentious estate battles is to have a conversation with your heirs before you pass away explaining your estate planning decisions. Another option is to leave a letter or video explaining your choices. Finally, putting serious consideration into naming an executor to the estate can alleviate a lot of problems between heirs after you are gone.

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