Dispute Over Robin Williams’ Estate Ends

Robin Williams' widow and three adult children from previous marriages ended their legal dispute over the legendary comedian's estate. Mr. Williams' estate had an estimated value of $100 million and the dispute centered on a myriad of personal items. Mr. Williams died in August of 2014 and his children were the beneficiaries. However,the actor also included a provision in his plan that provided for his wife, Susan Schneider Williams, whom Mr. Williams married fairly recently in 2011. Schneider argued that she was not receiving enough money to maintain the home she owned with Mr. Williams in Tiburon, California.Meanwhile, his children claimed their stepmother was "adding insult to a terrible injury" by trying to...

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Making a Difference…After Death

IndyCar driver Justin Wilson died after suffering injuries sustained during a race accident. The 37-year-old driver was struck in the head by debris from another driver's car during the single-seater series at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania, according to CNN.com. The loss of this bright, rising star was devastating to his family, friends, loved ones, and the racing community in general. However, one bright spot in this moment of darkness is the fact that Wilson was an organ donor and that decision made a tremendous impact on the lives of others in need. Wilson's younger brother Stefan, who is also an IndyCar driver,...

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Same-Sex Couples May Need to Review Estate Plans

Obergefell v. Hodges, the historic Supreme Court decision requiring all states to recognize legally valid same-sex marriages, will certainly have rippled effects in the estate planning world. Why? Because couples in the LGBT community need to now review their estate plans to determine whether the language used to transfer assets to their significant other is still legally accurate and valid. Many states, including Virginia, did not recognize same-sex marriage prior to the Obergefell decision, so many LGBT couples opted not to put together estate plans where their significant other received assets for fear that they may not be legally valid upon...

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There’s No Such Thing as a “Simple Will”

I get this request, in some form or another, on a regular basis - “I want a simple will.” The client is thinking they have a relatively straightforward collection of assets and a “typical” family. Then they drop the proverbial bomb and reveal that they have a half-interest in a rental property based in Honolulu, natural gas interests in another state, and a general partnership worth somewhere between $100,000 and $5,000,000. They also divulge the fact that they have one child who is physically disabled and another child who has served jail time with two divorces under their belt. Clearly, a...

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Maintaining Control of Your Money From Beyond the Grave

A funny  story, found on littlethings.com, about a man and his money goes as follows: There was a man who worked all of his life and saved all of his money. He loved money more than just about anything, and just before he died, he said to his wife, “Now listen, when I die I want you to take all my money and place it in the casket with me. Because I want to take all my money to the afterlife.” So, he got his wife to promise him with all her heart that when he died she would put all...

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Savings Bonds – A Hidden Gem in Your Estate?

Over $9 billion worth of savings bonds and $200 million in registered Treasury securities have stopped earning interest, but haven't been cashed in by the owners,according to treasurydirect.com. Why is so much money simply in limbo? Well, the truth is that when many people hear the term “savings bonds” they conjure an image of their grandparent giving them a piece of paper for a nominal amount of money and being told to “hold onto this since it may be valuable someday.”  Savings bonds are simply not considered “sexy” investments and therefore get tossed aside and forgotten by the purchasers and/or...

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Ignorance is Not Bliss – The Importance of Maintaining Your Estate Planning Documents

In a packed auditorium for a TEDx Conference, venerated journalist and author Tom Brokaw was asked flat out by his daughter what was in his Living Will. Why? Because she had no clue. They never talked about exactly what was in his Living Will. Even more shocking was Mr. Brokaw’s admission that “unfortunately, I don’t know a lot about my living will. In fact, I’m not even sure where it is at this point.” [embed]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OCFwlysc56c&feature=youtu.be&t=2m15s[/embed] Think about that for a moment – Tom Brokaw, a man who has dedicated his life to investigative journalism including intense research and scouring details of high-level...

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Caring from a Distance: Tips on How to Help Aging Loved Ones When You’re Not Around the Corner

Many years ago, it was quite common for children to live in the same city they were born and raised in. They may have even decided to purchase a home in the same neighborhood where their parents still lived. Today, such a scenario is a relic of the past. Many people do not live close to their parents and are scattered across states, and even countries. So you need to ask yourself this important question - when your parent’s health begins to fail, what will happen? Do you know who will care for them if they can’t take care of themselves?...

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3 Common Mistakes Executors Make and How to Avoid Them

Many people are suddenly thrust into the position of being the executor of a loved one’s estate, and have no idea what to do or how to best proceed. It can be overwhelming. I want to share with you some common mistakes that I’ve encountered with executors in the hopes that you can learn what not to do. Please note, the concerns below are for people that have not done proper trust based planning. Properly drafted and maintained trust based planning (which we recommend for all of our clients) avoids many of the pitfalls below by allowing your trustees to...

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The Williams Family Feud – Lessons for Estate Planning

Back in November 2014, I blogged about Robin Williams’ estate plan and his use of a living trust as a vehicle for distributing assets to his children. Unfortunately, despite what appears to be a thoughtfully crafted plan for who receives which assets, members of Williams’ immediate family have opted to litigate a dispute over his estate. The dispute focuses on an array of Mr. Williams’ personal items including his a tuxedo Mr. Williams wore, a promise ring, photographs and awards at his Tiburon, California home. The rivaling family members include Mr. Williams’ wife and three children from previous marriages. ...

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