When Elvis Presley died, he left behind an Estate of over $10 million.  The King of Rock and Roll was larger than life.  But, he died without even a will to plan for it.  Just like everyone else, there were debts, lawyers, and other costs to settle.  The debts alone were about $4 million dollars.  When Estate Taxes, Probate fees, and other administrative costs were paid, less than $1 million went to his heirs.  That is less than 10% of his wealth. His estate could have done better with updated estate planning.

These problems are not just for the rich and famous.  Take John and Sarah into account.  John and Sarah married young when they were both 19.  They had one son named Jason.  Their house was held in joint tenancy.  That means that if one of them died then the spouse surviving spouse received the entire house.  That might not sound like a very sound plan.  For many couples it is, but let’s take a look at what can happen.  Unfortunately, there was an accident at work.  John died when he was thirty.  Sarah was still a very young woman.

Even though John’s death hurt Sarah deeply, life went on.  Sarah met Bill five years later and they ended up getting married.  Bill moved in with Sarah since John’s life insurance allowed her to own the home free and clear.  It allowed for the best start to their lives.  Sarah owned the home with Bill in joint tenancy as well.  It seemed the most prudent move.  Bill and Sarah lived happily together.  Neither Bill nor Sarah had a will.  Sarah died before Bill and the house transferred into Bill’s name completely.  When Bill died, the house went to his biological family.  John’s children received nothing.  It might not have been Sarah’s, John’s, or even Bill’s intention to disinherit the children, but that is exactly what happened.  Estate Planning will make sure that only what you intend will happen at your death.

Blended Families

Jeff had two children with his first wife.  They married very young and they probably had children too young also.  As often happens, they both grew older and grew apart.  Jeff divorced his wife and lived alone for several years.  He owned his own home and it took him a long time to consider marriage again.  The first one hadn’t ended as well as he’d liked, but he wanted to be sure that the next marriage would last.  Eventually he did meet Mary and after a long courtship, they tied the knot.  They never had any children, but Mary loved her stepchildren very much.  She was a very good stepmother even if she didn’t always see eye to eye with Jeff’s ex-wife.  Their marriage was happy and they grew old together.  Jeff died in his seventies.  Neither he nor Mary had a will.  Mary was surprised to learn that in Minnesota she was only entitled to the first $225,000.00 of Jeff’s estate plus one half of the rest.  Jeff’s children from his first marriage were entitled to the other half.  She used the first $225,000.00 to make sure that she got the house and had some place to live.  Her half of the rest turned out to not be as much as she had hoped.  With Social Security, she struggled to make ends meet.  As she got older, she was unable to take care of herself.  She just hoped that what she had left could pay for her care since the other half of what she built with Jeff didn’t belong to her.

All of these unfortunate outcomes could have been avoided with Estate Planning that emphasizes Asset Protection.  Our Estate Planning Process is designed to provide a framework to ensure that your wishes are carried out while avoided excessive costs and taxes.  If you are concerned about this, schedule a planning session today.

Divorce

 

Divorce is a tragedy that Estate Planning can plan for.

Stephanie and James built a pretty good life together.  James built up a successful family business.  It supported the family, and he always dreamed of passing it on to the next generation.  They had two children Steven and Amy.  The business continued to grow with the family.  It wasn’t long before Steven and Amy were all grown up. Steven was rising through the ranks of the company hoping to take over for dad.  Amy had a bustling career of their own.  Both children were married and Stephanie and James were thrilled to enjoy their grandchildren.  Neither James nor Stephanie had a will.  After James and Stephanie passed away, the business was divided among the children.  They also each received half of the money and  the other assets. It all went out right to them. Life went on as normal.  However, Amy and her husband began to have problems once the children were all grown up.  It wasn’t long before her husband asked for a divorce.

The divorce turned out friendly, but it quickly turned combative when the talk turned away from the children to money. In the end, the Judge gave half of Amy’s part of the business to her now ex-husband.  Amy also put most of the money that she inherited from her parents into the family.  So, her ex-husband now had half of that too.  The business soon started to suffer now that there was a third partner.  He didn’t see things the same way that Steven and Amy saw them.  The business lost the character that James had given it in life.  They hope it will survive for the third generation.  If this situation resonates with you, then proper Estate Planning can give you peace of mind.  Schedule a planning appointment today.

Special Needs

Carl and Justine lived a pretty ideal life.  They had the white picket fence, two children, and a dog.  Everything was wonderful.  One of their children was quite special.  Their son Bryce was autistic.  This made him very unique.  He was very intelligent and did wondrous things with math and science.  However, he was even more special when it came to other areas of his life.  Bryce needed someone to look out for him.  There were certain situations where he could be vulnerable.  Carl and Justine often worried about what would happen to him after they were gone.  He was able to take care of most things in his life by himself, but needed help with others.  Despite all of this, they never completed any Estate Planning.

When Carl and Justine died, they left behind a decent sized estate.  Half of it went to Bryce while the other went to his sister.  Bryce wasn’t very good with bank accounts or money.  He also needed more help after his parents were gone.  He was getting older himself.  However, he didn’t qualify for any help from Medical Assistance because of all the money that his parents left him.  He also had no idea how to hire out the help that he needed.  His sister was just too busy with her own family to take care of him.  He finally did meet a good guy named Jason.  Jason seemed to always want to spend time with him and do things for him.  Jason just wanted a little money each time.  There were often even investments that Jason thought were a good idea for Bryce.  Even though Bryce understood math very well, he didn’t understand business.  It wasn’t long before Bryce was broke and depending upon the state and kindness of others.

Creditors

Brian and Julie worked hard all their lives.  They bought a home and raised a wonderful daughter named Margaret.  Margaret never really wanted for anything.  She was smart too.  Brian was so proud when he found out that she was accepted into Yale.  Margaret graduated with honors and soon was working on her own.  However, Margaret wasn’t near as prudent with money as her parents.  Several times, Brian and Julie had to help Margaret pay her bills.  Many times they would talk about how frustrated they were.  Margaret had a good job and made great money.  Why couldn’t she handle her own affairs and put some back for a rainy day?  Things didn’t get any better when Margaret got married.

Margaret’s husband Frank was just as bad with money.  Every cent that he got his hands on was spent right away.  This didn’t help the couple’s money problems at all.  Brian and Julie had to give them even more money to keep them out of trouble.  Sometimes there were lawsuits and, other times, cars were repossessed.  Thankfully, Margaret and Frank never really faced potential foreclosure.  Margaret and Frank worried about what would happen to their daughter once they were gone.  Despite worrying, they never did any estate planning.

When her parents died, Margaret inherited a sizeable sum of money.  Her parents were always very frugal and most of the money was in a 401K.  Margaret tried her best to make sure the money lasted.  She knew that she had to get her life together.  But, she was really unable to get any cooperation from Frank.  Despite her better judgment, she co-signed several loans and purchases.  Frank promised that he would pay them himself and Margaret wouldn’t have to put her inheritance in jeopardy.  Frank didn’t keep his word.  His creditors sued them both.  It wasn’t long before the creditors were seizing that inherited money.  Within five years of Bill and Julie’s death, Margaret was broke.

A proper Estate Plan will contain Asset Protection for your heirs. This tragic result could have been avoided. Your Estate Plan should not just protect your heirs from predators, but many times it can protect them from themselves.  Call today to schedule an appointment.

Charity

Phil and Alice always liked to support their favorite causes. They never had children, but they loved them still.  Once of their favorite charities dealt with orphans. They often spent both time and money to support the less fortunate.  One of the reasons that they never had children was because they did so well in their careers.  They were both executives and did very well for themselves.  They were also both only children and that is why they had such a close marriage.  There wasn’t much family outside of each other.  This was especially true once their parents died.

They went on living their life in service of others.  They amassed a very large nest egg.  They hoped that it would do a lot of good with the less fortunate once they were gone. They always told the folks at the charity that they would be leaving it all to them and charitable causes.  However, they never really got around to Estate Planning.  Unfortunately, both Phil and Alice died together in a car accident.  Their lives were cut short, but they had a lot of love to give.  Their nest egg would see that the less fortunate had food, clothing, and medical care.  So they thought.  Since they died without a will, an exhaustive search was found for their heirs.  A distant relative was located.  They had never met their second-nephew.  In fact, Phil had a falling out with that side of the family years ago.  When the charities came forward to get the money, they were informed that the second-nephew got it all.

All of these issues are about control.  How do you control what happens to your money after you are gone?  Do you need to protect your heirs from themselves?  Estate Planning can prevent these problems.  Call us for a free Consultation.

Estate Planning is not just for when you die.  You also need lifetime planning.  Living Probate is an all too common occurrence.  Proper planning can prevent that too.

Incapacity Planning

Ben worked hard his whole life and he was able to do pretty well for himself.  He never married.  He also never did any Estate Planning.  He wasn’t sure that even mattered since he had no children or heirs.  However, in his 50s, Ben started to get early onset Alzheimer’s.  The County decided that he couldn’t take care of himself and a Judge declared him incompetent.  Since he had no family, Ben was given a Guardian and Conservator that was a total stranger.

He couldn’t understand what was happening, but these strangers were deciding every decision for him.  They also took all of his money and belongings.  They were now in bank accounts that he couldn’t sign for.  They were in accounts belonging to the Guardian and Conservator. Every year, the Guardian and Conservator filed reports with the court.  These reports had all of Ben’s private business in them!

The public could come by and look at the court file and see how Ben was doing.  There were even comments concerning his health, mental state, and even whether he was doing well socially.  Every major decision, like selling his house, had to go before the judge too.  A trust could have prevented all of this.  Even having some Powers of Attorney in place would have made it less likely.

You need to plan for your life and not just your death.  Living Probate can been far more costly than Probate after you die.  Proper Estate Planning can prevent this.  Schedule a time to start planning today.

We can help you:

  • Control of your property while you are alive.
  • Care of you and your loved ones in the event of disability.
  • Transfer of your property to your heirs in privacy rather than the public nature of probate.
  • Maintain maximum control and flexibility during your lifetime.
  • Provide for you in the event you become disabled.
  • Lower the stress and costs on your estate and family in the event of your death or disability by avoiding probate or a guardianship/conservatorship.
  • Avoid having your private matters being made public.
  • Make sure that your property is there to provide for your spouse and those that survive you.
  • Protect your assets so that they cannot be lost as a result of remarriage after the first spouse passes away.
  • Protect your heirs from their creditors to the extent possible.
  • Enable you to select the persons that become the guardians of your minor children.
  • Protect your children’s or grandchildren’s inheritance from mismanagement.
  • Minimize income taxes to the extent possible.
  • Eliminate as much estate tax as possible.
  • Provide for your favorite charity.

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