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Probate and Estate Planning Archives

Estate planning that involves blended families

Wills, trusts and estate plans come in all different shapes and sizes. Some will be straightforward because there is a single beneficiary, but these days estate plans will often need to consider children, stepchildren and a second (or third) wife. It can even get more tangled if there are multitudes of grandchildren as well.

Tom Petty's family fights over his estate

Millions of music fans mourned the loss of Tom Petty when he unexpectedly died in 2017. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer left behind a sizable estate to his wife and two daughters that was set up as a trust. However, the wife of 16 years and grown daughters from a previous marriage are in dispute over the control and direction of the estate.

Leaving a bequest to a pet

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is famous for his influential work over a long and storied career before dying on February 19 at age 85. He continues to make news from the grave with an extravagant but not surprising bequest to his Birman cat, Choupette, of a portion of his estate estimated to be worth between $150 and $300 million.

Mediating disagreements about what to do with property

Siblings may have been raised in the same family, but they rarely have the same financial issues when inheriting money unless there is a trust that manages the estate. The more common scenario is for brothers and sisters to inherent the family home and/or other properties and they disagree on what to do with these assets that everyone has equal interest.

Baseball player's estate caught in limbo

Many will remember the tragic death of Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura, who died January 22, 2017 in a single-car crash. While contracts are an important part of professional sports, or any job for that matter, some will be surprised to note that the Royals have not paid the remaining $20.25 million guaranteed to Ventura, whose five-year-old daughter is the sole heir of his estate.

The advantages of generation skipping trusts

Sometimes it makes more sense to set up a generation skipping trust, particularly if the objective is to reduce the size of tax obligation among family members. This trust does this by directly placing assets with grandchildren and future generations rather than having them go through each successive generation, thus being taxed each time. According to a recent article, those who took advantage of a generation skipping trust saved between 18 and 40 percent on estate taxes, depending on the estate and how much was wealth was transferred.

Knowing when and how to contest a will in probate

Thinking about contesting a will during probate is a fairly common part of the process for many. Of course, the standing of the objecting party will have a lot of bearing on the matter with children of the decadent ranking much higher than a distant cousin once promised something. 

Estate planning and special assets

The internet has made it easier to sell or determine the value of collectable objects. Nevertheless, families may have no idea what the value of some old stamps, rare books, comic books or even that vintage car. Perhaps a parent was a little self-conscious about how much they spent on pieces of art, or they simply saw no need to share the monetary value of their vinyl record collection.

A good will avoids fights later

The death of a parent or loved one can be a hard and deeply emotional experience. Moreover, it becomes more complicated if there is no will, or one that is poorly written. Experts always advise people to put some real thought into a will and work with an estate law attorney to address issues that go much further than dividing the furniture.

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