In 1997, Ashley Sveen purchased a life insurance policy. Later that year, Ashley married Kaye Melin and named Melin as primary beneficiary on his life insurance policy. Sveen also named his two adult children as contingent beneficiaries. 

Several years later, Minnesota amended its revocation on divorce. Sveen and Melin divorced in 2007, but Sveen never changed the beneficiary designation on his life insurance policy. After Sveen passed away in 2001, the insurance company that held the policy requested a court make a judgment on whether Melin or Sveen’s children should receive benefits from the policy. 

The United States District Court of Minnesota then granted summary judgment for the Sveen children and awarded them life insurance proceeds. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded this decision. Subsequently, the court found that the policyholder’s ability to opt out of the law by redesignating his former wife as the beneficiary of the policy did not resolve the issue. 

By the time that the legendary screen actor and comedian Groucho Marx became a senior citizen, he had a difficult time making a number of decisions regarding his daily life. 

During this time, Marx’s companion, Erin Fleming, was accused of elder abuse and experienced a deterioration in his relationship with Marx’s children. This was made complex by Fleming’s decision to push Marx to perform. Later, after Marx became incapacitated, Fleming was appointed as guardian and temporary conservator of Marx’s valuable estate. Marx’s grandson was later named permanent conservator. 

Following Marx’s death, the fight for assets from the late legend’s estate continued on for years. A judge later resolved the debate in favor of Groucho’s children and ordered Fleming to repay a large amount that she had stolen from Marx’s bank accounts. 

Statistics show there are an increasing number of older individuals who are divorcing later on in life. There is also an increasing number of individuals who are discovering that living together as an unmarried couple has its advantages. 

According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of unmarried individuals who are older than 50 even increased by 75% between 2007 and 2016. 

Unfortunately, however, living together as an unmarried couple creates a number of unique estate planning challenges. This article reviews some of these hurdles.

Creating a successful inheritance trust is not easy. In some situations even when a family believes that they have created a well-written inheritance trust, they have failed to address a number of complexities including those involving incompetency. This article reviews some of the elements that should be included in an inheritance trust. 

# 1 – Appropriate Beneficiary Designations

Appropriate beneficiary designations are a vital part of trusts. Inheritance trusts are created so assets can be passed to a designated beneficiary during that individual’s life and following the individual’s death to any of the person’s children. Additionally, good inheritance trusts are written with the understanding that a situation might arise where a beneficiary is temporarily not able to serve as a trustee.

The introduction of cryptocurrency has created a number of new issues, which includes how these digital assets should be addressed in a person’s estate plan. Because the Internal Revenue Service has classified cryptocurrency as property capable of being taxes, it is possible to dictate how ownership of cryptocurrency should be passed in a person’s estate plan. In many cases, however, it can prove difficult to transfer ownership of cryptocurrency without creating a potential security risk. 

The Estate Planning Challenges Presented by Cryptocurrency

A person’s ownership of cryptocurrency is represented in that individual’s virtual “wallet”, which also stores the owners’ credentials and interacts with blockchains so users can both send and receive cryptocurrency. Consequently, the person who knows the access credentials to a virtual wallet has access to any cryptocurrency that is contained in the wallet. 

After the devastation of accepting the loss of a loved one subsides, it can be challenging to determine how to best process. Unless you have navigated this process before, performing the various tasks asked of an executor can seem overwhelming. 

As a result, this article reviews some pieces of advice that will make the selection of an executor easier. 

# 1 – Understand the Role of an Executor 

An appellate court recently reversed in part and affirmed in part the judgment of the Court of Appeals concerning a decision by the Comptroller of the Treasury to include the value of a marital trust in an estate in a tax assessment. The trust contained qualified terminable interest property that was reported on the deceased individual’s federal tax return but was excluded from the estate’s Maryland estate tax return. The Court of Special Appeals held that the Comptroller lacked the authority to tax the trust assets as part of the Maryland estate.  The appellate court, however, found that after the death of the deceased person’s spouse, the qualified trust assets were transferred on her death and that the transfer of the property was subject to Maryland estate tax.

A marital trust is a particular type of irrevocable trust that is designed to hold a deceased spouse’s assets that are greater than the amount capable of being protected from death taxes. Rather than be taxed at the time of the death of the first spouse to pass away, assets are not taxed until the second spouse dies. As a result, if the second spouse has limited financial means, marital trusts can play an invaluable role.

The Three Types of Marital Trusts

The Vermont Supreme Court recently heard the case of In re Peter Val Preda Trusts, which introduced some important estate planning issues that all individuals interested in creating trusts should understand. 

Both the individual who created the trust as well as his wife were deceased. In June 2018, the petitioners requested the Georgia probate division to remove the respondent as the individual family trustee of the trustee and appoint the petitioner’s wife as the respondent’s successor. 

The basis for removing the trustee was that the petitioner claimed the removal would improve how the trust was administered because the petitioner and respondent did not communicate with one another and that the respondent had failed to pay attention to investments of the trust. 

Creating a living will is one of the areas of the estate planning that many people overlook. These documents, which are also sometimes referred to as advance health care directives, describe what types of life-prolonging measure an individual would like if they are placed on life support. 

Among other reasons why these documents are overlooked is that making decisions about these issues can be emotionally difficult for people. If you have decided to finally take the valuable step of creating a living will, it is a wise idea to ask yourself some critical questions.

The Worth of Creating a Living Wills

Following a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, you and your loved one will end up facing a number of serious challenges. 

For one, there are a number of difficult emotions including fear and uncertainty about what the future holds. Second, there are a number of complex issues involving estate planning. 

As a result, this article reviews some important estate planning tips that you should remember following an Alzheimer’s diagnosis of a loved one.

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