August 3, 2012   Inheritance

Message In A Bottle: Just How Important is Your "Legacy" to Your Kids?

By Martha J. Hartney, Esq.
Recently I reorganized my kitchen, emptying a series of about 20 bottles filled with corks to make better use of the counter space they occupied. These bottles filled with corks marked every bottle of wine opened in my home since I became a single woman in 2006. Okay, lest you think me a lush, the bottles were, every one of them, opened in the company of friends and family. I collected each one as a remembrance that my life is still abundant, still full of love and laughter and company and joy, despite the fact that I left a very financially secure marriage. Every time I saw the corks, their numbers growing each week because I have a very open door home, I smiled in the remembrance of my chosen, and ever-growing family. They made me feel like a very wealthy woman indeed. Toward the bottom...
March 14, 2013   Inheritance,   Estate Planning

My “Uncle Bud” Earrings

By Wendi S. Temkin, Attorney at Law
My Uncle Bud was one of the sweetest men you could ever hope to meet.  He had a huge heart and a generous spirit.  He died of a stroke at the much-too-young age of 71.    In keeping with Jewish tradition, my family gathered for the unveiling of his headstone a year after he died.  I learned many wonderful new things about my uncle at this event, including that his desk had been littered with half written love notes to his wife of some 50 years at the time of his death.    At the luncheon after the ceremony, my Aunt Lee announced that when they had done their estate plan many years before, Uncle Bud felt it was important to leave a little something to each of his nieces and nephews to symbolize how much they meant to him.  The amount he settled on at...
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...
April 17, 2013   Inheritance

Should You Disinherit a Child?

Most parents choose to leave their estates equally to their children. But sometimes, parents intentionally choose to not leave anything to one or more of their children. There may be what the parents consider to be legitimate reasons, such as if one child has been more financially successful than the others, or not wanting a special needs child to lose government benefits, or not wanting to leave an inheritance to an irresponsible or drug-dependent child. And sometimes a parent wants to disinherit a child who is estranged from the family, or to use disinheritance as a way to get even and have the last word.   But regardless of the reason, disinheriting a child is hurtful, permanent, and will undoubtedly affect that child’s relationship with his or her siblings. Courts are full o...
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...
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...
November 6, 2013   Inheritance

The Dangers of Designating a Minor as a Beneficiary

Chances are, most adults have at least one account, investment, or other financial instrument that has a beneficiary designation. On the surface, this type of estate planning may seem simple. Realistically, all a person has to do is fill in the blank with a person or entity’s name. However, perhaps due to the outward simplicity of beneficiary designations, many people fail to avoid this common pitfall associated with beneficiary designations.   The pitfall occurs when a person designates a beneficiary who is either a minor or legally incompetent. For example, were you to take out a life insurance policy that names your minor child as the primary beneficiary, then pass on before your child reaches the age of majority, the life insurance company would not pay out to your child. Yo...
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...
July 26, 2012   Inheritance

Treating Your Children Fairly (But Not Necessarily Equally) In Your Estate Plan

Most parents want to treat their children fairly in their estate planning, and many assume that means having their children inherit equally. But fair does not necessarily mean equal. There may be special circumstances to consider before you divide the family pie into equal parts. For example: You may want to leave more to your son who struggles to support his family on a modest teacher’s salary than to your daughter who is a successful professional, married well and has chosen not to have children.You may want to compensate a child who has given up part of his/her own life to care for you.You may have a much younger child who will need care longer than your older children.You may have a special needs child who will need care for his/her lifetime.You may have one child who has joined...
October 8, 2012   Inheritance

What and When Should You Tell Your Children About Their Inheritance?

Not many parents like to talk to their children about their wealth. How much money people have is usually considered a private matter, something it’s not polite to talk about. But not talking to your children about how much they may inherit can leave them unprepared to handle even a modest amount.   This is becoming especially important because children of baby boomers are due to inherit more wealth than ever before. It has been estimated that baby boomers will inherit $12 trillion from their parents, and they will leave an additional $30 trillion to their own children over the next 30 to 40 years.   Many who have substantial wealth are concerned that letting their children know how much they have will take away any motivation for the children to be productive and involved...
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