Having That Awkward Conversation – Family Inheritance

UBS Wealth Management published a report revealing how badly families are talking about inheritance. The report indicates that it’s easier to have a will (83 percent of respondents had one) than discuss the will with children (about half have had a conversation about the will), and it’s even harder to tell children what the assets are in the will (only 34 percent of respondents discussed the will in detail). The issue of not discussing family inheritance spans the economic spectrum including both wealthy and not-so-wealthy people, according to the New York Times. The UBS report showed that only 55 percent...

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Robert Redford Battling New York Over Massive Tax Bill From 2005 TV Sale

One of the most irritating things the IRS can do is seek back taxes for taxes you already paid. That is essentially what Robert Redford claimed happened when he sold a 20 percent stake in the Sundance Channel back in 2005. Mr. Redford was recently assessed a $1.6 million tax bill by the state of New York for the sale. Mr. Redford already paid taxes on the 2005 sale to the state of Utah. Mr. Redford argues in his lawsuit against the tax bill that Sundance Channel had no property, payroll, or receipts in New York and therefore owed no...

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Under 40? Top 5 Tips for Getting a Jump on Estate Planning.

I know what you’re probably thinking – “I’m not even 40. Why do I need to even think about planning my estate? Isn’t that something I do when I get my AARP card?” Answer: It's never too early to start planning your estate, especially if you have a family or close loved ones. None of us have a crystal ball showing the future. You may think you have decades ahead of you, but the truth is you only have the present. It is important to remember estate planning should involve disability planning too, not just planning for death. The sooner...

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Don’t Let a Random Doctor Decide Your Fate – Establishing an Individualized Disability Panel to Determine If You Are Disabled

It’s an unfortunate fact of life – when we get older, we’re at a greater risk of having our mental faculties suddenly decline to the point of being declared mentally incapacitated. This cruel fact applies to everyone, even those of considerable financial means. The heartbreaking end to Casey Kasem’s life was an example. Another example is the continuing legal battle over the mental capacity of Donald Sterling, the soon-to-be-former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball franchise. The capacity of Mr. Sterling is the center of a contentious legal battle. Two neurologists determined that Mr. Sterling was mentally incapacitated...

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Burial Rites – Add To Your Health Care Proxy, Will, or Both?

Settling the finances, documents and other important affairs of a deceased loved one can be extremely difficult, even overwhelming. Adding the stress of trying to properly plan a funeral or memorial service just makes the situation even more difficult. This is why you should consider adding burial rites and directives for your memorial service (if you want one) in your will. Obviously, your family and friends want to honor you, but they may not agree on how to best do this. Do not leave it up to them to figure out what’s best. Make their lives somewhat less stressful during...

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Big Changes Coming to D.C. Estate Tax Laws

Starting in 2016, D.C. residents will be exempt from having to pay estate taxes if their estate is $2 million or less. This is a big change from the current exemption cap of $1 million. However, keep in mind that the language of the new law is somewhat vague. For example, one section of the new law appears to condition the higher estate tax exemption on “available revenue” which means the higher estate tax exemption may not take effect immediately in 2016, but another section implies that the exemption will automatically go into effect in 2016. Check out the actual language...

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Simultaneous Death and Life Insurance Proceeds

Beneficiary designations are pretty clear in life insurance policies. Basically, if you have life insurance and you pass on, the proceeds from your policy go to your designated primary beneficiary. This could be your spouse, your child, or close friend, etc. But what happens if you, and your primary beneficiary, pass away at the same time? This may sound far-fetched, but it is definitely possible. For example, if you named your spouse as your beneficiary and you both wind up getting killed in a car accident. If both you and your beneficiary die at the same time, it can create problems....

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Your Rights When a Hospital Agent Insists that You Use their Advance Medical Directive

My estate planning team gets asked this question quite often – what can be done if a hospital agent or administrator says that you have to use their Advance Medical Directive. Here’s the answer: Politely tell them that you have a legal right under state and federal law to create your own Medical Directive. As long as the directive complies with state law, it should be honored. State laws can include formalities like having notary, two witnesses, being of sound mind when completed, etc. Some states even include laws which say if a healthcare facility refuses to follow your directive, they must...

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Dealing with Digital Assets – A Growing Need

If a loved one suddenly passes away, family members, or the estate planning attorney for the decedent, have to organize the decedent’s assets. The usual assets that come to mind include the decedent’s home, vehicle, IRA, checking account, family heirlooms, etc. However, a growing need is finding and organizing the decedent’s digital assets. Certain digital assets can be overlooked, or even lost, during the settlement of an estate. These online accounts are a new class of personal property that may have monetary worth in addition to sentimental value. According to a survey by McAfee, the average internet user has nearly...

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Important Estate Planning Tool: The Virginia State Bar’s Senior Citizens Handbook

If you or a loved one is approaching “senior citizen” status, you should take a moment and download the Senior Citizens Handbook, a publication of the Virginia State Bar. You may be thinking, “why does this guy want me to have free legal advice?” Well, it’s because I want visitors to this site to be as fully informed as possible.I know what it’s like to take care of an elderly loved one. That’s why I highly recommend this handbook – it can help answer important, common questions when it comes to preparing for retirement and entering “senior” status. The handbook...

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