Articles Tagged with fishkill estate plan

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines intellectual property as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images sued in commerce.” Typically, intellectual property is protected by legal mechanisms such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights that help people achieve and maintain recognition and financial benefits from things they have created. While intellectual property has many specific laws to help govern it and some attorneys choose to focus their practice on intellectual property law, intellectual property is personal property and can be an important part of comprehensive estate planning.

Distributing Intellectual Property

There are several considerations that come into play when determining how to distribute intellectual property. For some people, intellectual property can be the main source of their financial livelihood. Others may have inherited or otherwise acquired certain intellectual property rights throughout their lifetime and use them for supplemental income purposes. Regardless of the way in which you came to possess intellectual property, if you want to continue benefiting from it then you can and should keep personal possession of it until you no longer depend on or desire the income from it. If you do maintain control over intellectual property, make sure that you have provided for its distribution in your estate planning in case of unforeseen circumstances.

There comes a time in many people’s lives when their adult children begin to help out with daily tasks. For some people this includes writing checks and paying bills. Many people begin to wonder if they should take steps to make being taken care of easier for their caregivers. In these cases, the question arises “why not just add your adult child to your bank account?”.

The Pros

The most obvious and powerful positive for adding an adult child to your bank account is ease of access. As joint owner, your child will be able to access funds from the account in order to assist you with bill paying and other financial matters.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left behind a legacy of peace and understanding, but he may have been surprised by the legacy that his estate is forging. Last Friday, a Fulton County Superior Court Judge declined to make a ruling in a dispute over two items left behind by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, his Bible and his Nobel Peace Prize. Fox News reports that the case over these two items is likely to go to trial, with King’s estate, controlled by his two sons, against their sister, Bernice. This is only one of many lawsuits that have crept up in years past over the legacy of Dr. King.

Managing Estate Assets and Legacies

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s estate is not technically what many would consider an estate in the traditional sense. It is not a probate estate, with his assets being liquidated according to his will. Rather, Dr. King’s estate is the for-profit Martin Luther King Jr. Estate Inc. with his three surviving children being the sole shareholders and directors. As the sole shareholders and directors, his three children control Dr. King’s name, image, likeness and his possessions.

We’ve already discussed Prince’s passing previously here on the Estate Planning blog.  Prince, one of the most successful music artists of all time, passed away without leaving a will. This means that he died intestate, and the laws of the state he was domiciled in dictate who will inherit from his estate. That almost universally means that your closest living relatives, usually a spouse or child, will inherit in an intestate situation, but this can get tricky. In Prince’s case, siblings, nieces, nephews, cousins and now self-proclaimed children have come out of the woodwork to lay claim to the late singer’s vast fortune and catalogue of music. Prince has no acknowledged surviving children, who would be near the front of the line in an intestate situation. So how exactly do you go about proving you’re the son of a decedent?

Acknowledged Children, Have No Fear

New York intestacy law is very clear on who will inherit when the deceased is intestate. If there is a spouse but no children the spouse inherits everything. If there are children but no spouse, the children inherit everything. If there is a spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half of the balance of the estate, with the children splitting the rest.

SOME PLANNING IS BETTER THAN NO PLANNING

In 2014 Pew charitable trust published a study that showed that fewer Americans are entering into marriage in the first place, fewer than ever before.  Currently the number of people over the age of 25 who were never married is at approximately 20%.  In terms of raw numbers, 42 million Americans have never been married.  The percentage of Americans over the age of 25 married reached a peak in about 1960, with approximately nine percent of Americans never married.  Part and parcel of the same trend is the number of adults who never had children.  Given the fact that it is entirely biologically possible that men could have children but never know it, but for all intents and purposes impossible for the same to be true of women, the statistics only track women who never had a child.  The number of women who never had a child peaked at about 2006 at about 20% of the population.  

The number is, as of 2015 currently at 15%.  So many cultural mores have changed in the last two generations that the pace is historically unprecedented.  The law in America has generally always been responsive to social changes, even if it is too slow for some.  Compared to some nations, American law is downright revolutionary in how progressive it can be.  At the same time, estate planning for the never married does not need new doctrines or a change in the law.  Instead it requires an experienced and forward thinking estate planning attorney to properly document the wishes of the client and to put them into effect through the choice of certain financial tools, trusts or other planning.  Some planning, even if imperfect is better than no planning.

Contrary to the European model, American parents are legally free to disinherit their children, but at the same time, they cannot simply forget or omit their children in their will by mistake. If the child is specifically addressed in the will and, at the same time, the will either fails to pass any property or assets on the child or specifically disinherits the child, there is nothing that the child can do to inherit something from the estate, aside from invalidating the will and potentially inheriting under the intestacy statutes. Children born after a will is created and not properly addressed in the will, via language that is expansive and inclusive that undoubtedly includes even children born or adopted after the specific will is created are referred to in the law by the ungainly term pretermitted children.

Not surprisingly it comes from a latin verb meaning to overlook or forget. New York’s law that addresses pretermitted children and found at NY EPTL §5-3.2, only addresses children born after the creation of a last will and not otherwise provided for by other means, such as life insurance proceeds, a trust or other assets. The children that fall under the pretermitted law protections are entitled to whatever the other children who are addressed in last will. Oddly enough, if the children born before the creation of the will are mentioned but unprovided for, the pretermitted child will not inherit anything. Indeed, the law specifically addresses this possibility, insofar as it indicates that “(1) If the testator has one or more children living when he executes his last will, and: (A) No provision is made therein for any such child, an after-born child is not entitled to share in the testator’s estate.” NY EPTL §5-3.2. Certainly there are many problems with this, insofar as some parents specifically disinherit their children. Anna Nicole Smith disinherited her son in her last will and then had a baby daughter only a short time prior to her passing away, without any change in her will.

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