April 10, 2010   Inheritance

Are We Helping to Pass on the Farm?

By John R. Baker, J.D.
An interesting quote but, what does all this have to do with farming, farm business suc­cession planning, estate planning and pre­serving wealth? What did Aristotle mean by this? What he meant was that there is nothing intrinsic in a tree, an inanimate object, that, when falling to the forest floor, transmutes it into a Greek trireme with oars and sails and a ram. Obviously when a tree falls to the forest floor it decomposes. No ship, no oars, no sails, just rotting wood.   Aristotle could just as well said, “If the farming art were in the land, it would produce the same results by nature.” Simply stated, there is nothing intrinsic in land, equipment, buildings, facilities or machinery that transmutes these inanimate objects into a farm business. As we all know, fa...
April 13, 2010   Inheritance

Ten Simple Steps to Prevent World War III Among Your Children

By Irina Shea, Esq.
How bad is it out there? Perhaps you’ve been reading news of high profile estate disputes with tens of millions of dollars at stake. Or perhaps you personally know of someone in your circle of friends and family who have been dragged through a messy estate. The stories are endless but your family doesn’t have to end up in court with siblings not speaking to one another, if you follow these 10 simple steps to keeping the peace. (1) Talk to your children about your estate plan. How to raise the delicate subjects of death and money? Call them right from your estate planner’s office. The conversation might go something like this: “Hi Nick, This is Mom. Daddy and I are in the estate plan­ner’s office and she said we should run some things by yo...
January 3, 2011   Inheritance

Becoming the Parents We Want to Be

By Martha Hartney, J.D.
Estate Planning is an Initiation in Parenting You are the bows from which your children as living ar­rows are sent forth. The Archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far. Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness; For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.  ~Kahlil Gibran   Parenting is a Spiritual Discipline What being a mother of two sons brings to my legal work is certainty that parenting is a spiritual journey, as much as it is a care giving role, and a never-ending set of tasks. Parenting consciously is a discipline requiring study, diligence, surrender, humility, gentility, and most definitely, grace under pressure. Parenting r...
July 15, 2011   Inheritance

The Talk

By James K. Leese, JD, MST
Have you ever had a client want to disinherit an heir? If so, perhaps you should recommend the “talk.”   Few clients truly understand what long term consequences the election to disinherit a “loved one” causes. The trickle down effect of disinheritance is easily lost - but, there will be a trickle down effect which can lead to harm to the other family members and their relationships.   I’m convinced that unless the “hurt or ignored” client acts responsibly and has the “talk” with the person who is of­fending them, that the effect of the “out of the blue” disin­heritance may unwittingly breed family contempt between siblings, and their issue, for generations (the Hatfield’s and the McCoy’s). &nbs...
October 16, 2011   Inheritance

Blood & Money: Why Families Fight Over Inheritance

By P. Mark Accettura, J.D.
Those of us who practice in the area of estate planning are regularly confronted with families behaving at their worst. People who are normally thoughtful and connected with their emotions revert to fighting children, figuratively, sometimes literally, scratching, punching, and pulling each other’s hair. Even where there is no overt conflict, it seems that nearly every family has some amount of tension percolating just beneath the surface as they address family inheritance issues.Stories of families in conflict at the death of a loved one are regular fodder in the media. It is easy to mock them; they look ridiculous, and it all seems so petty. We wonder why people just can’t get along. But, after some study I have learned that what appears as greed and pettiness are really symp...
November 3, 2011   Inheritance

Giving Your Assets to Your Children Now Can Cause Serious Problems

Sometimes people will transfer title of their assets to their adult children while they are living, thinking it will make things easier for their children when something happens to them. Doing this will prevent the court from controlling the assets if you become incapacitated and it will avoid probate when you die. And while there can be valid tax reasons to transfer some assets now, it can also create problems.First, when you give away an asset, it's gone. You may think your children will give it back to you if you change your mind, but they don't have to, and things can change in families when money is involved. They could sell the asset against your wishes, they could lose it to creditors, or they could be influenced by a spouse. If you outlive your children or they divorce, a d...
December 20, 2011   Inheritance

Will Your Kids Be Unintentionally Disinherited?

Taking ballroom dancing lessons helped Claire cope with the recent death of her husband of 40 years. Her instructor provided her with the companionship she was missing. Claire, with a new sense of self-esteem, soon fell head-over-heels in love. Her children were shocked when their mother announced she had married her instructor.But the real shock came a few months later when Claire died: the children learned their mother had placed all her assets in joint ownership with her new husband. Even though Claire's will left everything to her children, they were completely disinherited.How have you planned your estate? Have you followed the traditional approach of leaving everything to your spouse? Have you thought about what could happen if you die first? Even if your spouse doesn't remar...
January 16, 2012   Inheritance

Protect Against the Generation Skipping Transfer Tax

When you die, if some or all of your estate bypasses your children and goes directly to a grandchild, your estate could have to pay a tax called the generation skipping transfer (GST) tax. This is a very expensive tax. It is equal to the highest federal estate tax rate in effect at the time, and is in addition to the federal estate tax."Skipping a generation," and incurring this tax, can happen in three ways. It can happen intentionally, for example if you "skip" the living parent (your child) and leave an inheritance directly to your grandchildren. It can also happen unintentionally. For example, if the inheritance is in a trust for your child, he or she dies after you but before receiving the full amount in the trust and your grandchildren will receive their parent...
January 20, 2012   Giving,   Inheritance,   Asset Protection Planning,   Business Planning

Succession Planning and the Family Farm

By Todd N. Hallock, J.D. and Sara Nelson Hallock, J.D.
“Those who labour in the earth are the chosen people of God, if ever he had a chosen people, whose breasts he has made his peculiar deposit for substantial and genuine virtue.”  - Thomas Jefferson The farmer as virtuous is well-established in our national conscious and reverence for the family farm sets planning for it apart from other types of family owned businesses. Even children who do not plan to actively participate in farming have a deep emotional attachment to the farm. According to the USDA, approximately 96 percent of the 2.2 million farms are classified as “family farms.” The average age of a farm operator is 57 and the fastest growing segment is those ove...
July 12, 2012   Inheritance

Family Values and History Are Still the Best Inheritance

If you are concerned that your children’s inheritance is being reduced by the collapse of the housing and investment markets, rising medical costs, a sluggish economy and a longer-than-expected lifetime, you needn’t be. According to a recent study, family values, traditions and history still mean more than money as an inheritance.   These results are from the 2012 Allianz Life American Legacies Pulse Study* which surveyed baby boomers (age 47 to 66) and “elders” (age 72 and older). Allianz Life conducted a similar study in 2005. Interestingly, despite the financial crises that occurred between 2005 and 2012, the results were strikingly similar, with a high percentage of both boomers (86%) and elders (74%) agreeing that family stories, values and life lessons ar...
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