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It’s easy to assume that celebrities have the best-written estate plans. In reality, however, each year countless celebrities pass away and create estate problems because they do not clearly express their wishes. 

For example, when the “queen of soul music” Aretha Franklin passed away, she left a holographic will behind. While some news sources first reported that Franklin had passed away without any type of estate plan, she was later discovered to have left behind a holographic will. This means that instead of administering Franklin’s estate following state intestacy law, Franklin’s estate was divided under the terms of her handwritten will.

When New York Holographic Wills Are Valid

In the recent case of Leland House v. Webb, a husband initiated legal action against his deceased wife’s executor to quiet title of a property parcel. In response, the executor claimed that the transfer of the property was a gift rather than a sale. After the trial court ruled in favor of the executor, the husband appealed. 

The appeals court found that an aunt had conveyed the parcel to the wife during the wife’s marriage to the husband.  

How property is characterized is often shaped by the time and method through which the parcel was obtained. Among the types of property ownership, there is a presumption in most states that property owned by spouses during a marriage is marital property. If the property is obtained through a gift or inheritance, however, it is often classified as separate rather than community property. 

While most of us are familiar with wills, many people in New York are not certain about the role played by other estate planning tools like guardianships. In short, a guardian refers to a person who makes decisions for another individual, who is not able to make decisions on their own. 

Guardianship is appointed for children, adults faced with development or intellectual disabilities, or incapacitated adults. In the state of New York, there are several types of guardianships, which vary based on the parties who are involved. This article briefly distinguishes the differences between these types of guardianship.

# 1 – Guardian of a Developmentally or Intellectually Disabled Adult

Many estate planning strategies can be utilized to achieve your goals. One of the most common techniques that people utilize to achieve tax and asset management goals is placing assets into a trust, but there are many complexities about how trusts operate. Among the various options for funding a trust, you might have heard about having any remaining assets from your will placed into a trust.

The Role of Pour-Over Wills

Establishing a pour-over will requires a person to establish both a will and a trust. Language within the will should then state that all or some of a person’s assets pass into or “pour-over” into the trust once that person passes away. Assets that are placed in the trust are then used to fund distributions to beneficiaries. If all of your assets are passed to the trust, your estate will not be required to pass through probate court.

Regardless of whether you’re an estate representative, executor, or have any other connection to an estate being administered, it is common to wonder how long the estate asset distribution process will take. In reality, there is no fixed amount of time that estate distribution takes. Instead, this amount varies between estates based on various factors. While some people discover the probate process takes several months, other people find out that the estate administration process takes up to six months.

Why the Probate Process Takes Time

In short, the probate process can take a long time because it involves numerous steps. A person’s estate will be required to pass through probate if that person’s assets have more than a certain value or if the estate includes certain types of assets.

It’s a common occurrence. A person passes away and the terms of a will require that assets be evenly divided among family members. The deceased, however, forget to mention how personal assets should be divided. As a result, conflict arises among surviving loved ones about how these items should be divided. 

Even though wills are involved, families can still encounter strong emotions. This is because the estate planning process involves several highly emotional elements: life, death, and money. While it might not always be possible to avoid estate planning arguments, there are several strategies reviewed in this essay that can greatly reduce the risk of estate planning disputes.

# 1 – Clearly Express Your Wishes with Estate Planning Instruments

It’s often the case that the most critical conversations are some of the most challenging ones to have. If you plan on discussing long term care with your parent or family member this year, it can help to be prepared. After all, this conversation will need to resolve many questions including how the care will be funded, who will be granted decision making responsibilities, and how your loved one will fund the associated costs.

# 1 – Do Not Hesitate to Have this Conversation

There are some vital statistics to understand about the care of an elderly loved one, First, no matter how many children a person has, one child is often tasked with providing the majority of care. Additionally, the challenges faced by adult caregivers has been long recorded. After all, caregivers commonly work long hours. Due to these challenges, it is in your best interest to have an estate planning conversation with your elderly loved one as soon as is reasonable.

If you like murder mysteries and went to the movies this holiday season, there’s a good chance that you saw the film, Knives Out. So far, the film has brought in 70 million dollars in ticket sales and received substantial critical acclaim. Behind the story that makes this film intriguing is a backdrop of estate planning. While the film gets some things correct about estate planning, it gets other things wrong. 

# 1 – “Will Readings” Are Not Common 

During a critical scene, the surviving family gathers to hear the deceased patriarch’s will read. During this reading, an estate planning attorney sits behind a text and reads out the terms of the deceased man’s will. In reality, while many believe that there is a “reading of the will” after a person passes away, this does not occur in real life. Some people are surprised and others even disappointed when they find out will readings don’t exist.

Several facets of estate planning law have made this an excellent time to create a powerful estate plan. After all, low-interest rates and high exemption thresholds for things like estate taxes and lifetime gives have allowed more people to pass on wealth in a powerful way. Congress also passed legislation at the end of 2019 that substantially changes estate planning for retirement accounts. Due to these and several other factors, it is worth reviewing the terms of your estate plan this year. This article discusses just some of the things you should consider when reviewing your estate plan in 2020.

# 1 – Low-Interest Rates Make Some Transactions Ideal

Interest rates are currently lows, which offers many estate planning advantages for families with high net worths. So far in 2020, the Internal Revenue Service imposes minimum interest rates between 1.6% to 2.07% based on the type of transaction involved. 

Irrevocable trusts provide the trust’s creator with certain protections. Despite the advantages that these trusts provide, trust creators must give up any control over assets that are placed within the trust. This article reviews 4 important things you must remember about irrevocable trusts in case you intend on making them part of your estate plan.

# 1 – How Irrevocable Trusts Function

Irrevocable trusts refer to trusts where the terms cannot be modified or altered after they are finalized. Instead, the person who creates the trust transfers their ownership of the assets in the trust to the control of the trust. Many estate plans make use of irrevocable trusts in combination with other estate planning documents. Placing assets in an irrevocable trust means that the assets are not subject to estate taxes. These assets are also shielded from creditors. In understanding how these trusts function, it helps to know what three parties are involved:

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