Anyone experiencing the challenge of simultaneously caring for children and aging parents is part of the “Sandwich Generation”. If this sounds familiar, please know you are not alone. You and a growing number of our population are experiencing significant anxiety and stress as you juggle schooling and activities for your kids, your own career and increased financial expectations, family dynamics, and daily caregiver duties for aging parents. Though this is a challenging time in your life, it doesn’t have to be as impossible as it may seem. Money management and estate planning are two critical elements in creating a mutually beneficial living experience for you and your loved ones. There are also some basic steps, personally and financially, that you can take to help get you through.
While this may not be the easiest time of your life, it is survivable and is a situation where you can all thrive with adequate planning. At The Knee Law Firm, Ltd we’re familiar with structuring these types of plans and work with many clients facing these same challenges. We would be happy to discuss your situation and how we might help.
You don't need to be rich and famous to need an effective Estate Plan. And all the money and fame in the world doesn’t always mean folks get the best estate-planning advice.
Create an Estate Plan.
Musician Prince never did, and because of that, even a prison inmate popped up to claim he deserved a share of Prince’s estate, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. The court battle drags on, five years after Prince’s sudden death.
Billionaire Howard Hughes died without a will. Somebody found one later, but it was proved to be a fake. A court battle ensued. It took around 34 years to straighten out what should be done with his $1.5 billion.
Singer Aretha Franklin died without a will. Once again – are you seeing a theme here? – her $80 million estate ended up in court.
Keep your Estate-Planning documents in a safe and obvious place.
Olympian athlete Florence Griffith Joyner may have had a will – somewhere – but nobody could find it. The matter ended up in court, once again, for years. The issue was whether Joyner intended her mother to live, rent-free, in the Joyners’ home.
If you’re getting a divorce, don’t delay your planning.
Despite that singer, Barry White and his second wife were in the process of separating at the time of his death, she ended up with his entire estate. His children from other marriages, and his live-in girlfriend at the time, all sued. The law says that until a divorce decree is signed, you are still married, and if you pass before that and your estate plan includes your soon-to-be ex, that person will get your property.
Don’t try this at home.
Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman didn’t like the idea of his children becoming “trust-fund kids,” so he left everything to the mother of his children, to whom he was, unfortunately, not married. The result was a tax bill of millions of dollars. This could have been avoided if he had consulted an attorney with estate-planning expertise.
Don’t try this at home 2.0.
Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger typed up his own short will to dispose of his $1.8 million estate. He may have known Constitutional law, but not estate planning. His family paid a huge chunk of his riches in estate taxes that, once again, could have been avoided if Justice Berger had planned correctly.
If big changes happen in your life, let us know right away.
Actor Heath Ledger’s outdated will left everything to his parents and sisters, but after that will was written, he had a daughter with his girlfriend. It was only by the grace of Ledger’s family that they gave the girlfriend and daughter some of Ledger’s money. Don’t rely on your family to have to make those decisions for you.
Put promises in writing.
Marlon Brando’s housekeeper claimed he had promised that she would get his house when he died, but he hadn't put that in writing. She sued. Three years after Brando’s death, his estate settled with her for $125,000.00.
These are cautionary tales...and while your private affairs won’t necessarily end up in the newspapers...effective planning, with an Estate Planning attorney WILL prevent unnecessary expenses and legal entanglements down the road. We’d be happy to chat with you about a plan that will work for you and get the process started.
Connect with us to find out why an effective Estate Plan is important for everyone.
The last thing that you want to do is leave this world without a will. Your legacy is important, and you don’t want to leave your loved ones scrambling to sort out finances and split assets without direction. Without a will, your assets will also be split up according to the laws that govern the state in which you live. You will not have a say in where they go, and they may end up not going to the person which you want to have them. The best way to avoid a headache for your family and ensure your assets go to your loved ones is to draft a proper will with a wills and estates attorney that outlines all possible aspects and accounts for your desires.
Make a plan
When you want to create a will, you need to go through your life and look at everyone that may be affected by your death and has a stake in your estate. This includes examples such as your spouse, ex-spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, and parents, though friends and other loved ones do factor in as well. These are the people who will benefit as a result of you having a properly planned out will.
Once you have taken these individuals into account, you must analyze your assets. This includes personal possessions, finances, real estate, and business ventures.
The value of all of your assets, once you have taken out all of the taxes, legal fees, and funeral expenses that come with passing away, you then have an idea of how much you will have to leave to your loved ones.
Should you put funds into a trust?
A trust is an excellent solution to help financially support minors, support charities, as well as have safeguards in place for beneficiaries. When funds are held in a trust, they are held with rules and stipulations that the person who set up the trust puts in place. For example, a cottage can be put in a trust with multiple children put on the trust as beneficiaries, but a rule can stipulate that the property cannot be sold without agreement between all parties. A trust can be a great tool to help you ensure that your loved ones are taken care of.
What about minor children?
If you have minor children, then you need a will that stipulates who will become their legal guardian in the event of your death. If you have a spouse or an ex-spouse, then they will retain custody, but if you are a single parent, then you need to include in your will who takes over as their guardian. If you do not include this, then your death can be even more turbulent for your children.
It sounds like a lot
Trying to create an Estate Plan on your own that considers everything, including the tax that your heirs may owe, is incredibly difficult. Hiring a lawyer to draft your documents and to ensure that everything is in order will take a weight off of your shoulders. Our estate planning team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd., will be happy to meet with you to discuss how to start this important process.
Estate planning can be a topic that some people would rather avoid. Dealing with your mortality is not something that most people want to do, but if something were to happen to you, and you did not have a will in place, then it can be a nightmare for those you leave behind. When penning your will there are a lot of things that must be considered, and you do not want to leave anything out that may slip your mind. Working with a family law attorney makes the process easy, as they have the knowledge needed to set up your will without any accidental omissions. Here are some of the most important things that you need to consider putting in your will.
Choose Your Executor
An executor is someone that you either decide upon in advance to execute your will or someone who is appointed by a court to execute your will. An executor files the will with probate; notifies the banks, credit card companies and government agencies of the death; sets up any accounts for incoming funds and pay bills; files an inventory of the estate's assets with the court; maintains property; distributes assets; disposes of other property; and represent the estate in court. You need to talk to the executor you choose if you have selected a family member, and go over these responsibilities with them. It is also a good idea to have an alternate executor, so in case the primary executor cannot perform the duties there is a backup.
If you are a parent, this is the most important reason why you need to create a will! In the will, you can name who your children will go to in the event of your death. Whether your will dictates they go to your spouse, or in the case of both of your deaths a close relative or sibling who has reached the age of majority, having this in writing is incredibly important for the lives of those you leave behind if you die. You can also choose someone to manage your children's property if you want to leave it to them when they come of age.
Your assets, such as cars, property, and even special items such as a watch or specific piece of jewelry that just have to go to a particular person, need to be properly noted in a will. You have to describe the item in detail, for instance, the make and model of a car you are leaving, and the person's name that you are leaving the item to. Not every single item that you own needs to be included in the will, but be as specific as you need to avoid contention after your death.
Store Your Will Safely
Whether you store it in a safety deposit box or keep it in a firebox at home, make sure that your will is protected and that those who need access to it can do so. This is crucial, as the last thing anyone needs is to be scrambling and searching for your will.
The best thing that you can do when you are looking to create a will is to get legal advice on how to create it so that it cannot be contested in court. The team at The Knee Law Firm, Ltd. are ready to help you with estate planning. With our team you will have the security that you need and the confidence that if the worst were to happen, everything would be taken care of.