Articles Posted in Asset Protection

Estate planning is a fundamental aspect of any thought-out financial plan, but when it’s your loved ones who need to create a plan, it can be challenging to discuss this issue. One reason it’s difficult to discuss estate planning with a loved one is that this often involves confronting sensitive issues including that not all of us will live forever. While it’s most common for adult children to help elderly parents with estate planning, this is not always the case. In reality, people of any age who care about one another can help each other with estate planning. If you’re debating navigating the estate planning process with a loved one, there are some helpful pieces of advice that you should remember to follow.

Approach Helping Your Loved One in the Right Way

If a loved one refuses to get his or her estate plan in order, one proven strategy that can help is obtaining the assistance of any financial professionals who your loved one trusts. These professionals can often recommend estate planning attorneys who will be a good match for the needs of your loved one. If your loved one does not have this type of estate planning help in place, you should prepare to attend the first meeting with your loved one’s estate planning attorney to make sure that this proceeds as smoothly as possible. Also, while approaching your loved one about estate planning, you should remember that it’s a good idea to force your loved one into making a decision. Instead, it’s best to take a gentle approach that your loved one considers estate planning.

Transfer on death accounts pass on assets to an appointed beneficiary when the account holder passes away. When you establish a “transfer on death” account, assets pass directly to beneficiaries at the time of the account owner’s death. While assignments of this kind can help to avoid probate, account titling should be coordinated with the account owner’s death, especially when larger accounts and estates are involved. 

 
    While simply titling an account, “transfer on death”, and adding a beneficiary might seem like a good idea, this is not always the case. Transfer on death accounts can easily be set up on investment accounts. The primary benefit to these accounts is that they can easily be transferred to a beneficiary. Another advantage is that beneficiaries can be revised more easily than amending a trust. It’s important to understand, however, that titling an account “transfer on death” does not resolve all of your estate planning needs. Various mistakes can occur with any type of beneficiary designation. As a result, this article reviews some important details to consider if you plan on using a transfer on death account. 

 
# 1 – Life Changes Must Be Addressed

In the recent Texas of Marshall v. Marshall, a beneficiary initiated legal action against a trustee as well as five co-trustees of two trusts addressing claims that they had breached fiduciary duties. After the original lawsuit was filed in Texas, the trustee filed a petition seeking declaratory relief and requesting that the court declare the co-trustees were sufficiently appointed. The beneficiary obtained a temporary injunction preventing the co-trustees from receiving compensation as well as disposing of trust assets or participating in litigation.

The court of appeals reversed the litigation on the grounds that permitting the lawsuit to continue did not constitute a miscarriage of justice. The court of appeals also reversed other aspects of the temporary injunction on the grounds that there was no evidence to support that irreparable harm would occur otherwise.

The Role of Co-Trustees

Data shows that a troublingly large number of Americans do not have estate plans. Besides the challenge presented by not having an estate plan, many more Americans are failing to learn even the basic details about how estate plans function. In the hopes of clarifying some of the most dangerous myths about estate plans and how they operate.

# 1 – Estate Plans Aren’t Necessary If You Let Your Wishes Be Known

In reality, just because you would like your estate handled in a certain manner, there is no guarantee that your goals will be achieved. Even though your loved ones might know and remember your preference, they might find subtle ways to subvert them for their advantage. The best way to make sure that you achieve your goals is to work with an estate planning attorney who can make sure that you write legally recognized documents that uphold your wishes.

For many business owners, it’s a critical issue to make sure that business organizations including LLCs are properly structured. While many business owners have created revocable living trusts to articulate how their assets should be managed and to avoid probate, it’s a good idea that LLC interests are not put into the trust. This means that even if everything else with an estate plan is done correctly, a family would still likely need to undergo the probate process to both access and manage LLC interests. This, however, is not the best situation and there are more preferable options.

Placing an LLC interest into a trust is often a simple and affordable option. While it might be possible to simply file paperwork if an LLC involves a single member, it might be necessary to articulate such arrangements in an operating agreement. Many times, there are provisions in operating agreements that allow individuals to make these transfers. If no such provision exists however or there is not an operating agreement, the consent of the other LLC members is often required to perform such a transfer. 

The Advantages of Utilizing an LLC for Estate Planning

Regardless of your age, it’s critical to engage in estate planning to make sure you assert adequate choices over your financial and medical choices. Estate planning is also critical regardless of your economic status. While you will need to make estate planning decisions as you get older, even young people should also make your wishes known if anything happens. The Covid-19 pandemic has fortunately made many people appreciate the importance of being prepared for the unexpected regardless of age.

While estate planning is important regardless of how old a person is, a person’s estate planning needs to change as a person ages. This often means that younger people need fewer estate planning documents, but require more as they age. This article reviews some critical estate planning steps you should remember regardless of your age.

# 1 – Update Beneficiary Designations

Following his passing on January 23, 2021, Larry King’s widow remains locked in a dispute with the late celebrity’s son concerning the distribution of King’s assets. While estate battles are often challenging, this case is particularly complex for several reasons. One, a divorce was pending between Larry King and his widow. Additionally, King’s widow alleges that she recently discovered the late celebrity had a “secret” bank through which he gave over $266,000 to his son.

On February 10th, Larry King’s son filed an ex parte application to become the special administrator of his father’s estate. In support of his argument, King’s son submitted a holographic will that’s dated two months after King filed for divorce in 2019. King’s more formal will, however, names his widow as executor of his estate. King’s widow also argues that the late celebrity didn’t act like he wanted a divorce and that the couple had gone to counseling.

Much consideration has been given to Larry King’s holographic will. The one-page document is dated October 17, 2019, and states that Larry wants 100 percent of his funds to be divided equally among his five children and that the will should replace all previous writings. King’s widow argues that even if this document is found to be valid, it will change little. King’s widow also argues that during the last few years of his life, King was highly susceptible to outside influences, and at the time he executed the holographic will was of questionable mental capacity. As a result, King’s widow requests the court to reject Larry King’s son’s petition to be appointed special administrator and to deny admission of the holographic will. 

Assisted living facilities provide elderly individuals with a stepping stone between independent living and the more intensive care provided at nursing homes. Elderly individuals can receive assistance with things like cooking, cleaning, and hygiene at assisted living facilities while still maintaining personal independence. 

Deciding whether your loved one would benefit from an assisted living facility, however, is a complex process. As a result, this article reviews just some of the most critical factors that should be reviewed when deciding whether your loved one should be placed in an assisted living facility.

# 1 – Size

In the November 2020 case of Ochse v. Ochse, a Texas court heard a case that could potentially have a ripple effect on how trusts are interpreted. In this case, a mother established a trust that provided the trustee was authorized to make distributions to both the trustee’s son as well as the son’s spouse. At the time the trust was executed, the son was married to his first wife, but later divorced and married a second wife. The son’s children then initiated legal action against the son for breaching fiduciary duties as trustee and joined with the first wife who is also the mother as necessary parties. The first wife and son then filed competing summary judgment motions addressing whether the first or second wife was the son’s “spouse” as referenced in the trust. The trial court then held that the second wife was the correct beneficiary at the time of the suit. The first wife subsequently appealed.

What the Case Involved

The second wife and son argued that the use of the word, “spouse”, in trust documents did not mean the first spouse’s actual name. Instead, these parties argued that the term referred to the class of whoever was currently married to the son. The court of appeals, however, disagreed. The first wife argued that in the absence of contrary intent, a gift to a “spouse” of a married individual must be construed to mean the spouse at the time of the document’s execution instead of a future spouse. The first wife further argued that the terms “primary beneficiary’s spouse” as well as “son’s spouse” referred to the first wife because she was the son’s spouse at the time that the trust was executed. Both interpretations requested the court to view spouses as either statuses or class gifts. 

Executors as well as the personal representatives of estates can be held personally liable for either applying or distributing estate assets when there are unpaid estate taxes owed in case the Internal Revenue Service is not paid. When estate tax returns are not filed, the final amount of estate taxes due is not determined until either the statute of limitations expires or an audit occurs. Consequently, estate fiduciaries are left uncertain about whether or when an adjustment to estate taxes will occur if the Internal Revenue Service has accepted an estate tax return as filled. 

This type of response is unfair to both fiduciaries and beneficiaries because the most fiscally responsible fiduciaries can hold back on distributions until the amount taxed is more certain. To assist fiduciaries in assessing whether tax is due, an estate tax return is filed with the IRS. These returns are often issued following review by the Internal Revenue Service and a decision about not to audit or following the completion of post-audit procedures or litigation. 

The Role of Estate Tax Closing Letters

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