After working hard to create a legacy, most people want to make sure their loved ones will be able to enjoy the benefits. Estate plans and trusts allow individuals to decide how and in what increments they wish to leave gifts, and can help prepare their beneficiaries for the future. Although including stipulations with trust funds is nothing new in the realm of estate planning, incentive trusts are a way to mandate specific conditions recipients must meet before accessing any funds.

While most trusts include an age requirement so that recipients will be old enough to handle their money wisely, incentive trusts take things a step further. Benefactors can stipulate educational, marital, career, philanthropic, and health conditions that an heir must meet before receiving a part of their trust. This form of estate planning may make a beneficiary more inclined to achieve desired life and career goals.

A common condition is that heirs should graduate college. Some are satisfied with an undergraduate education, but others may offer heirs an additional bonus if they pursue advanced degrees such as a master’s degree or a a PhD. Additional payments can be set to occur when an heir gets married or if they have children. Some interesting ways people have used incentive trusts are by making heirs write essays detailing the way they will use funds or by requiring them to pass a drug test.

The main challenge with incentive trusts is that they can be complicated and expensive to create and enforce. Many trust fund recipients have found loopholes around requirements, so consulting a professional estate planner is necessary to ensure the benefactor’s wishes will be carried out. While estate planning experts do not advise anyone to go overboard with their conditions, incentive trusts are just one example of the amount of control individuals have when deciding what to do with their assets.

Though your options are virtually limitless when it comes to estate planning, deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

Most famous figures will find themselves under the public’s microscope from fame until death. With information so easily accessible today, the details of many high-profile individual’s estate plans have come to light from Aretha Franklin to Robin Williams. Looking back a bit further in history to 1799, one of the United States first celebrities, George Washington, left a will commended by many experts. Clear and concise, the founding father’s estate plan teaches many valuable lessons on the correct way to execute your estate planning.

Take your time. Washington’s will contains over 5,500 words or about nine pages of text, which he spent countless hours toiling over. Taking the proper time and steps to draft your estate planning documents is a crucial consideration. Although nine pages may seem excessive for most, Washington’s words left less room for interpretation, and he was able to personalize the outcome of his belongings. Taking the time to consult an estate planning expert’s opinion is also a great way to ensure everything goes according to plan.

Communicate with your heirs. Washington left his estate solely to benefit his wife Martha along with helping friends, family, and the community. When formulating his will, he no doubt consulted his beloved wife on what he wanted to do with his assets. Keeping an open line of communication with your potential beneficiaries can make things more transparent and help avoid surprises. This step is particularly important in families that may have unique situations as well. The subject may be challenging to talk about, but it is better to be prepared than caught off guard. 

Think Big. Washington not only protected his wife and family but was able to fulfill other dreams. He established a school for orphans to help the community and endowed a struggling college with stock. The college eventually became Washington and Lee University, which still stands to this day. When you think about your long-term goals, you can both provide for your immediate loved ones and have the capability to do much more. Doing so can leave a legacy much like the one that lived on after this iconic president’s passing.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

Although establishing an estate plan is the first step in keeping your assets accounted for in the future, keeping it up to date can prove to be more challenging. With any major life events, your estate plan documents should be reevaluated to account for your new situation. In the case of remarriage specifically, individuals may risk accidentally disinheriting their dependents unless they take the proper steps to update their existing estate plans.

After a divorce or spousal death, 17% of individuals remarry, and in those who are over 55 years old, 50% remarry. Considering the 55+ year-olds have already amassed a large portion of their lifetime earnings and are more likely to have had children, their estates tend to be more complicated than their younger counterparts. Insurance policies, family heirlooms, real estate, and more can all be affected by a new spouse.

A good first step is to make sure your beneficiaries are still accurate on your different accounts and policies. Beneficiaries listed will take precedence even over the wishes stated in your estate plan. For 401(k) plans as well, your current spouse will be your beneficiary unless someone else is explicitly noted and your spouse agrees. Even if you intended to have your children inherit some of these assets, without that clearly stated you might not be able to control the result.

For property, jointly owned homes are typical in remarriages, which may change the portion that would be left to your kids. Many homes will be left to the remaining spouse under “tenancy by entirety.” For those who want to leave their portion to someone else like a child, “tenancy in common” is what would need to be established. Evaluating your property title and communicating with your spouse and a specialist will allow you to best determine where your property stands now and in the future.

For physical and other belongings, your estate plan should be as transparent as possible similar to your beneficiary wishes. Being concise will only help your loved ones avoid confusion and stress in an already difficult time. Lastly, it’s important to realize that estate planning rules can differ by state, so consulting an estate planning expert is the most effective solution to make sure your assets are handed down accordingly. 

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

In October of 2017 famed singer-songwriter, Tom Petty passed away from an accidental drug overdose at the age of sixty-six. Leaving behind a wife and two daughters, Petty’s family members have been embroiled in several legal battles concerning his estate over the past two years. Most recently, Petty’s daughters, Adria and Annakim Violette have filed a lawsuit against his widow, Dana York Petty, for $5 million based on the theft, misuse, and misallocation of his assets.

Petty’s estate was set to be divided between the three women upon his death under the Petty Unlimited LLC. The entity was to be run by the three individuals with equal power to maintain and preserve his legacy. Recently the daughters claim to have found that Dana failed to create Petty Unlimited LLC and instead created a separate entity called Tom Petty Legacy LLC. The sisters have said that this has prevented them from obtaining their full shares of their father’s estate since Dana along with several other co-named defendants diverted more than their established 1/3 share. The two are seeking damages of $5 million, the creation of a “constructive trust” for the assets they were deprived of, and further measures to prevent future interferences from Dana and her associates.

The current allegations come months after Dana accused Petty’s daughters of trying to prevent her control of the estate as the directing trustee. Being that when decisions would come to a vote Petty’s daughters would be able to gain the 2/3 majority, Dana felt the two would be exerting primary control over the Petty businesses. At the time, Dana was also said to have deemed Adria’s actions erratic concerning Petty’s posthumous music releases. In return, the sisters alleged Dana was preventing them from making decisions concerning the estate in an equal manner. This accusation, along with the LLC issue, is what has ultimately caused the two to file their most recent lawsuit.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

When making an estate plan, many contemplate how to allocate their physical possessions, but most do not consider their digital assets. As the world is increasingly digitalized from online banking to social media, managing your digital assets in your estate plan can help preserve their monetary and sentimental value, mitigate the risk of electronic theft, and avoid complications for your loved ones.

All the information in your emails, blogs, websites, social media, and cryptocurrency are considered a part of your digital assets. To be safe, consulting an estate planning advisor can help you understand your state’s laws and your digital platforms’ Terms of Service Agreements (TOSA). The TOSA is the contract you agree to when first setting up an account and may indicate that in the circumstance of your death your account can’t be transferred to another person.

The order of how to handle digital assets of the deceased is found in a state’s version of the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act (RUFADAA). The first step is checking if a service provider has a transfer system for beneficiaries, the second is reviewing legal documents, and the third is checking the terms of the TOSA. In any case, having a plan laid out is preferable to leaving your legacy to chance. In some unfortunate but common cases, accounts with stored credit card, billing, and identity information may be subject to post-mortem theft by hackers.

Additionally, with individuals continually creating new accounts and changing passwords, you must make sure your information is as current as possible. Estate planning advisors can assist their clients in making these updates by setting up a system for tracking passwords and accounts. Without your correct passwords, a beneficiary will lose access to essential data and be unable to delete unnecessary accounts. Digging for digital information is a lot harder than digging through someone’s attic for physical assets, making tracking your online activity very important.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

After the passing of world-renowned fashion designer and icon Karl Lagerfeld last week, many have wondered what will happen to his estimated $300 million fortune. Having no children, there is much speculation over the specifics of Lagerfeld’s estate plan. Many even believe that his beloved cat Choupette will be one of the primary beneficiaries. Considering the validity of pet trusts varies by country and state, Lagerfeld leaving his fortune to his cat may have taken some very hairy estate planning.

The furry Lagerfeld heiress is famous in her own right, having an income from modeling and her own maids and chef. She also has almost 300k Instagram followers, two books written about her, and a makeup line. It’s not surprising that one of Lagerfeld’s main wishes was to continue providing Choupette the same lavish lifestyle after his passing.

The laws surrounding leaving money to your pets differ from country to country, which is essential in Lagerfeld’s case since he was a German citizen residing in France. Unfortunately for Lagerfeld, France’s laws state that money can only be left to a physical person or foundation, meaning Choupette could not be left an inheritance directly. If Lagerfeld did in fact plan for Choupette to receive something, he would have needed an estate planning advisor to give him the viable options to achieve this goal. He could either create a foundation whose goal is to take care of Choupette, donate to a non-profit that would agree to care for Choupette, or leave Choupette and her inheritance to a trusted friend.

On the other hand, in the United States, pet trusts are legal, though there needs to be a human in charge of the funds. Additionally, many courts have the freedom to make changes to the dollar amount if they feel that the inheritance amount is unreasonably large. All these different laws stress the importance of consulting a professional estate planning advisor to help you reach your end goals including the care of your beloved pets.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

Whether written by hand or formalized in print, having an official prepared will is better than having none. In the case of a New Jersey man last year, a court even determined his codicil handwritten in his own blood to be valid. As technology infiltrates more and more industries, estate planning is getting its first taste of going digital with the emergence of electronic wills.

Almost identical to standard hand-prepared wills, an electronic or e-will documents’ main difference comes in the form of an E-signature. As of now, the legal validity of a signature online, whether from a Tablet/Stylus duo or a computer-generated mark, is being determined at the state level on a case by case basis. In response, a state law advisory board called the Uniform Law Commission has considered this new trend and is working to develop standards to make things clearer state to state.

The most significant cause of worry for estate planners comes in the potential for corruption and abuse. Many estate planning experts have stressed that there are legitimate reasons that the process is so formalized, stemming back to protecting their clients. The advantage of getting personalized face to face advice versus going the DIY route is immense, especially considering the sensitivity and long-term value of estate planning. An experienced estate planning advisor can provide custom tailored guidance, achieving your family’s goals with certainty. Each estate plan has unique complexities when accounting for different goals and types of assets, and an estate planning advisor should have the expertise to execute your documents correctly and update your estate plan as necessary.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

It’s not uncommon for billionaires to give up some of their money to charity, but some give a lot more than others to causes close to their hearts. The Giving Pledge, championed by Warren Buffett and Bill & Melinda Gates, invites the world’s wealthiest to pledge more than half of their wealth to charitable causes either during their lives or in their wills.  As of this year, 186 ultra high-net worth individuals have joined the effort, with many promising to allocate more than 99% of their wealth to philanthropy. 
Last year, the 5 most generous individuals and couples gave away a combined $14.7 billion. Here are some of the more notable pledgers and what causes they support.
Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen, funds invaluable scientific research through the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Allen established the Allen Institute for Brain Science, which studies the genetic causes of brain diseases and disorders. As of 2015, Allen has donated $2 billion to charity.
Warren Buffett pledged to give away more than 99% of his riches and has already donated over $21.5 billion. Buffett noted in his pledge letter that “about 20% of my shares (in Berkshire Hathaway stock) have been distributed” to various charities and he will continue to distribute another 4% of his stock every year.
Bill and Melinda Gates are champions in eradicating preventable diseases. Bill Gates and his wife Melinda gave away more money than anyone else last year, donating $4.8 billion, according to Forbes. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation funds initiatives and programs around the world that support agricultural development, emergency relief, urban poverty, global health, and education. They are particularly devoted to fighting diseases that, with treatments like vaccinations, are easily preventable.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan are fighting Ebola and improving San Francisco Bay-area public schools. Mark Zuckerberg was one of the first individuals to join the Giving Pledge and donated $2 billion last year. 
No matter the amount, your generosity in gifting time and money to worthwhile causes can have a significant impact on your tax liability. While tax considerations should never drive your charitable giving, it makes sense to structure your gifting to maximize the tax benefits. If you have questions regarding your gifting or estate plan, please contact Talley LLP today.

Aretha Franklin was undoubtedly a brilliant singer, songwriter, and pianist, but she made giant estate planning mistakes that you’ll want to take heed of. Franklin, who was divorced, reportedly died without a will or a trust despite having four grown children, one of whom has special needs.

Many Americans don’t have a will or a living trust. A 2017 survey by Caring.com found that only 4 in 10 adults do. 64% of Gen Xers and 42% of boomers don’t have a will, the study noted. According to the survey’s respondents, the top reason for not establishing an estate plan was that they simply “hadn’t gotten around to it.”

One of Franklin’s lawyers, Don Wilson, said he tried to get her to create a will or trust to keep her estate private and out of probate. She never followed through.

Now not everyone will have assets worth close to Franklin’s reported $80 million estate, but the actual dollar value of your assets isn’t the point. It’s about making sure your loved ones receive what you want the way you want.

And if you have a special needs child, you might consider working with an estate lawyer to set up a special needs trust. A special needs trust, which is not subject to probate court, lets you contribute funds for your child’s benefit while enabling him or her to continue getting benefits, such as Medicaid and Security Supplemental Income, which require recipients to have no more than $2,000 in assets and limit their income.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.

On his award-winning series, “Parts Unknown,” the late author and culinary-travel show host Anthony Bourdain brought the world of food back to his TV audience. Through the simple act of sharing meals, he showcased both the extraordinary diversity of cultures and cuisines, as well as how much we all have in common. While Bourdain amassed a sizable fortune during his tenure as an award-winning author and TV personality, his thorough estate planning will ensure his legacy is protected and passed on to his heirs.

According to his will, Bourdain’s assets include $425,000 in cash and savings, $35,000 in a brokerage account, $250,000 and personal property and $500,000 in intangible property. While the value of Bourdain’s estate per his will may seem low, a closer look at his will reveals that it does not include the value of assets held separately by a trust created by Bourdain back in 2016, such as his image rights, future income, royalties, and real estate.

Bourdain was thorough in making provisions for Ariane Bourdain, his only child, as the bulk of his estate will pass to her. While this may have been expected, keep in mind that in 2017 Caring.com found that 60% of all Americans don’t have an estate plan. For Gen X and Millennials, currently in their child-rearing years, the numbers are even higher at 64% and 78%, respectively.

One interesting note of Bourdain’s estate plan revolves around a provision regarding his frequent flyer miles.  He left them to Ottavia Busia-Bourdain, his estranged wife, to “dispose of in accordance to what she believes to be his wishes.”  Bourdain made a career as a jet-setter, exploring both established and hole-in-the-wall culinary hotspots around the world. One can only guess how many miles he has racked up over the years.

Though your options are virtually limitless, proper estate planning -deciding on the “who, what, when, and how” and executing this with the least amount paid in taxes, legal fees and court costs possible can be a challenging and emotional affair to wrestle with alone. For more information, contact Talley LLP today.


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