Articles Tagged with Estate Planning

6a019b003fe4d5970b025d9b3dd866200c-600wi-300x200For many Houstonians, the fear of the unknown health, social, economic, and financial challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic are prompting intense concern and anxiety. If you are self-isolating or quarantining at home, you probably are already creating your new “normal” schedules, researching online resources, and creating ways to find comfort for yourself and your family.

Experts have suggested that in addition to movie marathons and being on social media, the time at home can be used to accomplish those things that you have been putting off, like spring cleaning and taxes. We suggest that now is a good time to revisit your estate planning goals. Now, more than ever, we’re experiencing the magnitude of just how essential planning for your future is. While most of these Coronavirus events are out of our control, we CAN plan for how important decisions about our estate and our health will be dealt with in the case of the unexpected.  As experienced Houston estate planning and elder law attorneys, all too often we see the dangers and unexpected consequences of not planning.

The bare bones of an estate plan start with a Will. Every adult needs a last will and testament, drafted by an experienced attorney, that will guide your executor to distribute your assets as YOU want them. The next minimum requirement for pre-planning are your powers of attorneys. If you become incapacitated or disabled, your financial (durable) and medical powers of attorneys can empower the right people to legally act for you, make transactions, consent to treatment, and potentially save time, money and even your life.

11.9.19A fear that children will not be motivated to have careers because of their family’s wealth is a concern. However, in the long run, it can hamper how wealth is handled by the next generation.

In a perfect world, discussing a family’s legacy should be a process that begins when children are old enough to understand concepts as simple as giving and the notion that wealth comes with social responsibilities. In reality, few discuss their philanthropic or legacy goals with their children.

CNBC’s recent article, “Don’t expect Mom and Dad to clue you in on your inheritance,” says that 8 out of 10 financial advisors said that “some” or “hardly any” of their clients involve the next generation in family philanthropy, according to a recent survey from Key Private Bank.

9.13.19“By the time Groucho was an old man, however, he experienced significant problems in his daily activities, medical decision-making and the management of his estate. He suffered from elements of dementia, a heart attack and congestive heart failure, falls resulting in a broken hip, and after that hip was repaired, another fall and broken hip, urinary tract infections, strokes and hypertension.”

Julius Henry Marx, better known as Groucho, died 42 years ago on Aug. 19, 1977, at age 86. Groucho teamed with three of his four brothers—Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo—to become stars of vaudeville, Broadway, film, radio and television. (A fifth brother, Gummo, wasn’t part of the act).

PBS News Hours’ recent article, “How Groucho Marx fell prey to elder abuse” reports that the legal battles over Groucho’s money and possessions went on long after he died. The unrest of his last few years is familiar to adult children concerned with the well-being of their elderly parents.

7.19.19When Gloria Vanderbilt died at age 95, it was truly the end of an era. Her life included the high society world of old New York and the disco scene at Studio 54. However, her son Anderson Cooper reports that he won’t inherit any money from his mother.

Gloria Vanderbilt’s life in the spotlight began when she was very young. She remained in public view through a long and fascinating life. As a child, she and her trust fund were headlines in an epic divorce. Now that she has passed, speculation has reemerged about what happened to the Vanderbilt money. According to Trust Advisor’s article, “Does A Long Island Landscaper (And Not Anderson Cooper) Inherit Gloria Vanderbilt's Fortune?” the money may be long gone.

It’s reported that she had to sell off a few houses to pay the tax bills. Anything left behind is well-hidden in some estate planning documents. With her family fortune dwindling over time, Vanderbilt’s fashion empire came and went. However, the distributions kept coming to fill the holes.

This bizarre story of an estate battle concerns a man who wanted to be driven to local pubs, a taxi driver and the passenger’s significant other.

A legal bill for an unusual estate battle must be now paid by a cabbie who had inherited a regular fare’s entire estate. The will was challenged by the man’s partner, who had been his heir, before the will was changed (over a pint in a pub) to favor the cabbie.

The New York Post’s recent article, “Cab driver slapped with massive legal fees after inheriting passenger’s estate,” explains that the bizarre story began years ago when British taxi driver Dean Hughes agreed to transport 348-pound Gary Mendez to various pubs. Many other cabbies refused to take him, because of his size.

7.16.19There were a lot of headlines after Kenny Goss and Michael’s former lover Fadi Fawaz were cut out of the late singer’s will.  Fawaz is now reported to be planning to contest the will.

Most of the late George Michael’s £98 million estate will be shared by his sisters Yioda and Melanie. There were also provisions made in the will for his father Kyriacos, as well as for his close friends and former members of his staff.

“George was devoted to his dad and sisters, they were always going to be looked after,” a source told The Sun.

7.5.19Some people love their timeshares and plan their getaways around the timeshare company’s offerings. Others are excited at the start, and then find that it simply doesn’t work for them. For heirs, a timeshare can be problematic.

When a timeshare owner dies, the timeshare will usually be part of the deceased owner’s estate, according to nj.com’s recent article, “My dad had a timeshare and died without a will. I don’t want it. What do I do?” The contractual obligations of the timeshare owner become the responsibility of the next-of-kin or the beneficiaries of the estate.

When the timeshare company hears of the owner’s death, they may keep sending letters to him for his expenses. Is there any way that the owner’s children could be held responsible for the timeshare expenses?

7.3.19Digital property needs to be addressed in your estate plan just as tangible assets like real estate. Not planning for a digital afterlife is increasingly important.

How many hours do you spend on your smart phone, laptop or desktop, busy with work emails, personal emails, social media platforms, gaming, networking and more? In addition to the time spent, chances are good you have many digital properties: photos, music, financial accounts and more. Today’s estate plan needs to include your digital afterlife.

Without a clear plan in place, it can be a major headache for your family when you pass away, says The Street in the recent article, “Estate Planning in a Digital World.”

Pen-calendar-to-do-checklistThis grim topic deserves your attention. If you haven’t made plans for what will happen after you die, your loved ones will have to pick up the pieces.

Here’s the nice part about this serious subject: once you have created an estate plan, you will have a clearer understanding of what the future will hold for your heirs. You’ll know that you did the right thing, and that you didn’t just leave the ones you love to clean up a mess. That’s just one reason to have an estate plan.

If you need more reasons, here’s what happens if you don’t have a plan, as recently outlined in The San Diego Tribune’s recent article, 6 estate-planning mistakes to avoid. Without an estate plan, everything is more stressful and expensive. Let’s look at the top six estate-planning mistakes that people need to avoid:

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