Articles Tagged with Will

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.

12.4.19It’s easy to focus most of the estate planning attention on the will and distribution of assets. However, a power of attorney is often as important as a will.

Naming a person to take on the role of Power of Attorney is not easy. For some families, it can hang up the entire estate planning process.

Forbes’ article, “9 Things You Need To Know About Power Of Attorney,” reminds us that it’s an important decision and not one that should be taken lightly. Let’s look at what you need to know to get your POA right.

10.19.18The roles are reversed when parents age. You can’t count on them to take the lead in having discussions about money, health, aging and other concerns that come in the later years.

When you were a kid, your parents were in charge. Now your parents are older, and you must be the adult in the room. Embracing that role, with thoughtfulness, will make it easier for you and your parents as you address the issues that come with aging. As recommended in the article “How to Have Difficult Conversations With Your Aging Parents” from Next Avenue, having these conversations will help you all avoid some of the uncertainty and stress in the future.

Here are the conversations you need to have:

Couple holding handsWhen most people think of wills and estate plans, they usually think about the primary function of distributing assets to children. The natural next thought is, if they have no children, then they don't need a will. But estate plans, and especially wills, actually serve a number of important purposes, only one of which is conveying assets to children.

As U.S. News & World Report points out in, "No Kids? You Still Need an Estate Plan," people without children need, at the very least, to have a will if they want to have a say in who gets their assets after they pass away.

People who pass away without a will are said to have died intestate. Every state has a law that determines who gets the assets of people who die intestate. The laws all operate similarly, in that the assets are given to the person's closest living relatives.

Sunlit forestUpon British actor and director Lord Richard Attenborough's death, the value of his estate and his last wishes were made public via his will.  His estate in the United Kingdom was worth approximately £1.5 million, not including the value of any assets held in trust or any foreign assets.

However, his will also revealed that Attenborough requested that his body be cremated.

His wish was that one-third of his remains be placed at his Scottish estate and another third be taken to an estate in France. The final third of his remains he wants intermingled with the remains of his daughter and granddaughter at a church near Attenborough's estate in the UK.

Top secret keyA promise to give an inheritance that is not fulfilled in a will can be challenged, if the promise can be proven and if the court agrees. The nature of the promise made to one woman in Australia is a sad reflection of a troubled family, but it does illustrate how courts treat promises.

Not every family story is a happy one, as illustrated in a case reported in The Age Victoria, "Woman sues mother over inheritance after keeping father's sexual abuse secret. A woman was sexually abused by her father starting when she was 14. The abuse continued for a year. She told her mother, who promised to end the abuse, but who did not leave the marriage. The mother asked her daughter not to tell the police.

The mother's reasoning was that the couple was putting together a large estate and if she left the marriage, her daughter would not get any of it. In exchange for not telling authorities about the abuse, the mother promised the daughter half of her estate.

Fight over moneyIt’s hard to imagine legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix preparing a will; only 27 when he died, he likely did not have a great deal of assets. However, his estate grew after his death, and his not having a will, combined with a lopsided will of his father, led to years of legal battles between the Hendrix siblings.

It’s ironic that when Jimi Hendrix died at the tender age of 27, only one of his legacies was his amazing artistry with the electric guitar. The second legacy was his estate, which grew to vast proportions after his death, as did his fame.

His brother Leon Hendrix and his adopted sister Janie Hendrix have been fighting with each other over that legacy. Both of them have sought to profit from it and have worked at cross-purposes. The latest battle between them was over a trademark infringement lawsuit.

MP900442275The European Union has put into effect new rules on inheritance laws that allow people to select which country’s laws they want to have applied to their wills. Americans who own property in the EU that they wish to pass on through their estate need to prepare for this change.

In the past, if you had a will written and executed in one country, and you died in that country, the law of that country would govern the distribution of your estate. A new rule from the European Union that is currently in effect will give you the option to choose which country’s laws you want to apply to your will. The country you have chosen must be designated in your will.

Thus, for example, if a German is living in Italy, he or she can write a will to be used in Italy but that applies German law. This is not limited to nations in Europe. An American living in Europe could chose to apply US law. The Connexion reported on this new rule in "New EU inheritance rules now in force ."

Th (2)The classic story of a vulnerable wealthy elderly person being influenced by a caretaker who seeks to enrich him or herself has been updated in a dispute between a disinherited brother and psychiatrist/girlfriend of a Texas woman who is alleged to have been manipulated out of millions.

A successful and wealthy attorney with undisclosed health problems took a medical leave of absence from her law practice and traveled to New York City for treatment by a psychiatrist. Five months after treatment began, according to a statement submitted in court, things became complicated.

Several years later, the heavily-medicated attorney, Amy Blumenthal, passed away. What is alleged to have happened during those years might shock some people.

Bigstock-Senior-Couple-8161132It is not unusual for wealthy parents to guide their children in their life choices while they are alive, and it’s also not unusual to control how heirs spend their inheritances. But using an inheritance as an incentive to reach specific benchmarks is a new one on us – and perhaps typical of the type of personality it takes to amass great wealth.

When New York real estate tycoon Maurice Laboz passed away, he left behind an estate worth approximately $35 million dollars, two daughters, 21 and 17, and an unusual estate plan.

As is often the case, Laboz did not leave all of that money to his daughters right away. Instead, they must wait until they are 35 years old to receive their inheritances.

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