The gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic has forced a multitude of Americans to confront many issues they had previously put off because the topics are uncomfortable. Mortality has become a central concern due to the rise of the Coronavirus, so estate planning has become a priority for many individuals who currently have no plan in place and face the outlook of their probate estate distributed by the court rather than their own wishes. There are a few important documents you should have in place to handle unexpected situations such as illness, incapacitation, or death that make up a solid, basic estate plan.

One of the most obvious issues is the improper distribution of assets after a loved one’s death. It is not easy to talk or think about, but as they get older, a plan needs to be in place. If not, there is no guarantee that their assets will be handled properly after they die. More importantly, planning ahead can help protect accounts in special circumstances. For example, for those who fall ill and need expensive care and facilities, naming a legal beneficiary in advance can make sure that they can access money to help pay for the necessary treatment. Beneficiaries can also create a barrier from scammers, as with the right documents set up, there is a second source of control over accounts to prevent them from being drained without approval.

While the topic may not be easy to approach, there are a few tips to make starting a conversation easier. The first and most important tip is to be honest and respectful when bringing it up. It seems self-explanatory, but this is often the hardest part of the whole process. Just keep in mind that things will be a lot better when a plan has been created rather than leaving it until it is too late. In cases with multiple beneficiaries, tensions can run especially high. A good way to mediate these tensions while also ensuring things are handled correctly, is to hire a fiduciary. Fiduciaries, unlike other financial advisors, are legally obligated to conduct all business with their clients’ best interest above everything else. The most important tip is to stay dedicated to the process of getting an estate handled and taking the proper steps to make sure it is done correctly.

Even though COVID-19 has created a sense of uncertainty in many areas of our lives, creating or updating an estate plan is a huge step in taking back control and gaining some peace of mind. 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.

This year alone, Americans are estimated to inherit over $750 billion while only paying an estimated 2.1% in taxes, according to the Brookings Institution. In comparison, the estimated taxes on work income and savings is 15.8%. While plenty of people advocate for higher taxes on the wealthier population, Lily Batchelder, who advised Barack Obama during his presidency, is proposing an inheritance tax that could raise approximately $1.4 trillion over the next ten years in taxes.

Currently, wealthy Americans and their estates are required to pay a 40% tax on bequests and gifts to their heirs. However, there are many ways to avoid the tax. For example, the first $23.2 million in inheritance is tax-exempt for married couples, and there are many other methods to transfer wealth to heirs tax-free using trusts and other strategies.

Batchelder’s plan would eliminate the current estate tax system and require heirs to pay income and payroll tax on inherited money. Also included in her plan is a proposed lifetime threshold that would make certain heirs exempt, taxing only the richest heirs. The estimate is still not representative of the actual number raised by the new “inheritance tax” due to the fact that it does not include additional funds raised through the closing of certain tax loopholes also enacted by the new plan.

Batchelder wrote that the proposal would “soften inequalities, strengthen mobility, and more equitably allocate taxes on inheritances among heirs,” while also cutting any distortions in the labor market and increasing work among heirs.

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.

This holiday, families are bound to discuss their lives and talk about their plans for the next year. Most topics will revolve around day-to-day activities, but discussing broader, more uncomfortable things like finances and estate planning can benefit all those involved. With the holidays bringing key family members together, this may even be the best time to start a discussion about the future. While some believe this to be a “wealthy person problem,” a lack of estate planning can affect everyone and results in potential problems when it comes time for an estate to be managed.

One of the most obvious issues is the improper distribution of assets after a loved one’s death. It is not easy to talk or think about, but as they get older, a plan needs to be in place. If not, there is no guarantee that their assets will be handled properly after they die. More importantly, planning ahead can help protect accounts in special circumstances. For example, for those who fall ill and need expensive care and facilities, naming a legal beneficiary in advance can make sure that they can access money to help pay for the necessary treatment. Beneficiaries can also create a barrier from scammers, as with the right documents set up, there is a second source of control over accounts to prevent them from being drained without approval.

While the topic may not be easy to approach, there are a few tips to make starting a conversation easier. The first and most important tip is to be honest and respectful when bringing it up. It seems self-explanatory, but this is often the hardest part of the whole process. Just keep in mind that things will be a lot better when a plan has been created rather than leaving it until it is too late. In cases with multiple beneficiaries, tensions can run especially high. A good way to mediate these tensions while also ensuring things are handled correctly, is to hire a fiduciary. Fiduciaries, unlike other financial advisors, are legally obligated to conduct all business with their clients’ best interest above everything else. The most important tip is to stay dedicated to the process of getting an estate handled and taking the proper steps to make sure it is done correctly.

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. 

Almost 65 years after his death in a car crash, actor James Dean will appear back on the big screen through the magic of CGI. Magic City Films announced that Dean’s image will be digitally recreated in their Vietnam War drama “Finding Jack”, causing mixed reactions from the star’s friends and fans. Many have speculated whether the actor would have wanted this, but Dean passed away without a will, leaving his family with the ultimate decision-making power.

Dean’s situation is not uncommon, as the last thing on any 24-year-old’s mind is their mortality. His entire estate ended up being left to his father, the default heir determined by interstate law. Considering he barely spoke to his dad, Dean most likely would have wanted the majority of his fortune to go to the aunt and uncle who raised him. As a famous actor, it is also important to realize that his assets included much more than money and physical possessions.

The actor’s image and likeness became the property of his heirs, leaving them to decide its usage in any future films, ads, and other media. Magic City Films did get consent from Dean’s estate, but people question whether he really would have wanted to be digitally recreated or if he would have wanted to play this specific role. Although some believe this would be against Dean’s wishes, without them in writing, there is no way to determine this for sure.

Dean is not alone, as Aretha Franklin, Prince, and Kurt Cobain also passed away without a will in place. It’s hard to believe that with all of the attorneys, accountants, and managers in a celebrity’s inner circle, no one thought about estate planning until it was too late. In total, an estimated 55% of American adults have not planned for their estate. While most people do not have multi-million-dollar empires, they do have loved ones that they want to provide for. Having a will can protect families and give loved ones a roadmap to carry out any last wishes. While we’d like to think we’ll always be around, there is no amount of CGI that can make us live forever.

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 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.


1 2 3
Archives