If you have ever had to deal with a complicated or contested Probate over a family member’s Will, you know that a lot of your problems would have been avoided if funds had instead been held in Transfer On Death [“TOD”] accounts: While Probating a Will requires a lot of court paperwork, time, and the cost of paying an attorney to help navigate through the proceeding, TOD accounts transfer as Operation of Law assets, meaning all the beneficiary of the account has to do is show up with an original death certificate. But sometimes TOD accounts are not properly set up, cause confusion or secrecy where none was desired, or end up being transferred to people you don’t want them
Category: Beneficiaries and Ownership
Getting Divorced? Leave Children’s Life Insurance to a Trust
As a member of the First Spouse Turned Demogorgon Club, I can tell you with hindsight that divorce can be a wonderful thing: No more arguments, no more awkward Thanksgivings with creepy in-laws, no more washing the dishes during prime football hours. But at the same time, divorce is almost never positive during the initial process, self-doubt and anger consumes you, and (ultimately) you will have to deal with financial matters, particularly if you have minor children. And when child support or maintenance is in the picture, your former best friend is going to want to make sure that cool hard cash is still there if you pass away during the payment period. So, purchasing life insurance to cover your
When Should I NOT Act as Mom’s Executor?
When your mom passes away with a valid Will and property being transferred by that Will, the Will is submitted to the Court who appoints an estate representative to wrap up her final affairs. This person or company – almost always named in the Will – is known as the Executor, and has the ability to do everything that your mom could do during her life: Collect her assets, pay creditors, review all of mom’s financial records and statements, file income tax returns, order her medical records, distribute her property as mom’s Will states, and even clean out mom’s closet (which she likely neglected to do before she died since, you know, she’s now dead). We say an Executor “steps
Angry Brothers Agree to Settle (Mom’s Estate)
You never know how close you are to your family until you have to share an inheritance with them. I am wrapping-up a case where my client’s mother died, leaving a Will that equally-distributed her real estate between her two somewhat-acrimonious sons. Usually this apartment would be sold, proceeds disbursed, and everyone would go their separate way. However, my client’s brother insisted that he could make them more money if he improved the real estate. His brother (my client) was not so hip on this idea – none of them had any real estate investing experience – but through sheer force, perseverance and presumption his brother had his own son move in (which he did – with a few kewl
5 Reasons UTMA Accounts Are Bad
Parents and grandparents sometimes look for easy ways to give money to younger family members. The challenge arises when the recipient is a minor (minors cannot own property in their own name until 18, with some exceptions) and when the donor wants to minimize legal fees. A Uniform Transfer to Minors Act [“UTMA”] account, which leaves funds to the child when he/she turns 21, used to be viewed as an appropriate way to leave funds to a minor now that would be paid out later when he/she reached a more mature age. UTMAs are inexpensive: You only need to set up the account at a financial institution, name an adult custodian for the account, and let the custodian buy a
When a Trust Beneficiary Doesn’t Have a Copy of Their Trust
The last few generations have seen an immense growth in wealth that can be transferred to family members. They have also seen an increase in the types of temptations available to those family members: More drugs, more frivolous items to spend on, more high-risk business opportunities that don’t pan out. So wealthy family members leave these bequests using trusts, so the funds may be protected from the beneficiary, for the beneficiary. But what happens when a beneficiary can’t find their copy of the trust, and what rights does that beneficiary have over those funds? I see this problem at least once per week: The beneficiary’s parent / grandparent / uncle left them funds in a trust, but the beneficiary
What and When Should I Tell My Kids?
Parents who have gone through the estate planning process typically ask what information they should share with their children and when. The answer requires balancing many factors, but can be boiled down to a simple concept: Take responsibility and own up to your decisions, and don’t leave it to your kids to fight about it. First, if a child has been left out of a Will or is receiving less money than other siblings you may want to tell them so, and why. Clearly this is not a universal approach, but taking responsibility and informing them up-front allows the child to reconcile this fact. This will also help minimize your other children having to deal with the dispossessed child’s bitterness
College Kids in Trouble! Draft Your Child’s Health Care Proxy
Ah, the Ivory Tower, where high school kids aspire to escape to, and parents best hope for 4 years of peace and quiet. But with independence comes responsibility: Travel, driving, concerts, and protests. And drinking. Lots of drinking. And then comes a horrible injury or hospital admittance, followed by a parental realization: You are not allowed access to your adult child’s health care information, and cannot make decisions regarding their health care. In most states, the age of majority is 18, and once he or she moves out of his or her parent’s residence they are considered an adult with all of the privacy rights that inure to adults. The only individual who, by default, has access to
Second Wives: Reapers of Sorrow, Destroyers of Family Wealth!
In a world where our assets are constantly under threat from usurious taxes, government largess, financial predators and rapacious offspring, there is still NO worse threat to intergenerational family wealth than a second wife. People get married the first time for any one of a number of reasons: Family pressure, filling a void, the urge to have children, an inexplicable desire to emulate the lives of Al and Peg Bundy and passion. But these first marriages often end, sometimes with children left in their wake, and are replaced by a second marriage based on love, devotion and emotional security. In these second (or third) marriages, often one spouse tends to be significantly older and more financially secure than
“Don’t Forget About BoBo: Pet Trust for Your Animal Companion”
One of my dearest aging clients have a dog named Bo Bo. Bo Bo is a true companion to this couple: They are in their 90s and have outlived many of their friends, the husband is more mobile than his wife and likes to get physical activity by walking Bo Bo, and the dog is absolutely in love with them. Bo Bo also smells bad, barks at the littlest disturbance, is a manic that constantly jumps on visitors, (and gets slobber and fur on my suit, which needs to be dry cleaned after every single visit) and is begrudgingly tolerated (at best) by anyone other than my clients. Unfortunately, when my clients pass to the eternal human boneyard, Bo Bo’s