Remind Me Why I Need a Will

There are a number of reasons to draft a will as soon as possible. If you die without a will (intestate), you leave decisions up to your state of residence according to its probate and intestacy laws. Without a will, you have no say as to who receives your assets or properties. Not having a will could also make it difficult for your family.

Legal Reader’s recent article entitled “Top 7 Reasons to Fill Out a Will” reminds us that, before it is too late, consider these reasons why a will is essential.

Avoid Family Disputes. This process occasionally will lead to disagreements among family members, if there’s no will or your wishes aren’t clear. A contested will can be damaging to relationships within your family and can be costly.

Avoid Costly and Lengthy Probate. A will expedites the probate process and tells the court the way in which you want your estate to be divided. Without a will, the court will decide how your estate will be divided, which can lead to unnecessary delays.

Deciding What Happens to Your Assets. A will is the only way you can state exactly to whom you want your assets to be given. Without a will, the court will decide.

Designating a Guardian for Your Children. Without a will, the court will determine who will take care of your minor children.

Eliminate Stress for Your Family. Most estates must go to probate court to start the process. However, if you have no will, the process can be complicated. The court must name personal representatives to administer your estate.

Protect Your Business. A will allows you to pass your business to your co-owners or heirs.

Provide A Home For Your Pets. If you have a will, you can make certain that someone will care for your pets if you die. The law considers pets as properties, so you are prohibited from leaving assets to your pets in your will. However, you can name beneficiaries for your pets, leaving them to a trusted person, and you can name people to serve as guardians of your pets and leave them funds to meet their needs.

Drafting a will with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney can give you and your family peace of mind and convenience in the future.

Reference: Legal Reader (Jan. 28, 2021) “Top 7 Reasons to Fill Out a Will”

 

Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Makes Money 50 Years after Her Death

Screen siren Marilyn Monroe starred in 23 films in her career. She created the first female-owned production studio. Marilyn Monroe Productions first film produced was The Prince and the Showgirl with Laurence Olivier.

Cheat Sheet’s recent article entitled “Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Is Still Making Millions but Not Because of Her Movies” says that as she became more famous, she saw bigger paydays.

Monroe died at the age of 36 in 1962, at the peak of her fame. However, Marilyn’s star would only continue to rise. More than 58 years after her fatal overdose, she’s still one of the most famous women in history. Her face and name are instantly recognizable, and public perception around her acting abilities have only improved in the years since her death.

According to Forbes, Monroe’s estate earned $8 million this year, making her the 13th highest-paid dead celebrity, and also the only woman on the list. Marilyn Monroe’s likeness makes her millions. Even today, Monroe is still the world’s biggest sex symbol.

Forbes reported that Monroe’s likeness is used by nearly 100 brands around the world, including high-end fashion houses like Dolce & Gabbana. Her famous face is still her biggest money-maker, but her films still bring in cash to her estate. Some Like It Hot made her estate $4.5 million in 1999 alone.

Monroe never had children and she was not married at the time of her death, so she left most of her money to her acting coach, Lee Strasberg. Marilyn also left money for her mother, half-sister, and close friends. Strasberg’s second wife, Anna, inherited the estate when Lee died in 1982. It was Anna who signed the deal with CMG Worldwide to license official Marilyn Monroe products, which contributed greatly to her estate.

While Monroe wanted her personal items to be left with friends, items like the dress she wore to sing “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy and her beloved white baby grand piano were sold by the estate. The dress was sold for $4.8 million in 2016, and singer Mariah Carey bought the piano for more than $600,000.

Reference: Cheat Sheet (Dec. 21, 2020) “Marilyn Monroe’s Estate Is Still Making Millions but Not Because of Her Movies”

 

How to Plan for a ‘Fragile’ Beneficiary – Minors, Special Needs, and Those with Creditors

Frequently, estate plans will include an inheritance for a minor beneficiary. If you have minor children, you should spell out exactly what you want as far as who will care for your children and how your children’s financial needs will be met.

Wealth Advisor’s recent article entitled “Handle with care: Tips on planning for the fragile beneficiary” explains that if a minor child inherits property outright, the court will usually appoint a conservator to handle the property until the minor reaches 18. Because of this, some parents make use of a trust, which lets the assets be available for a minor’s benefit but held under terms you set, when establishing the trust. A trustee oversees this.

A beneficiary with a disability. In some cases, a loved one with a disability may be receiving needs-based government benefits. To make certain that an inheritance doesn’t disrupt those benefits, many parents or guardians ask an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney to create a special needs trust (SNT). This is an irrevocable discretionary trust created by the parent in many cases for the benefit of a child with special needs. When set up correctly, the special needs trust won’t be considered an available resource for the purpose of determining eligibility for needs-based government benefits.

Incentive planning. Another aspect of estate planning is to use your assets to influence your loved one’s values and future behavior. A trust with incentive or disincentive provisions may help guide the choices and actions of your family, even after you have died.

Advanced planning for successful beneficiaries. If you plan to leave assets to a beneficiary who has the potential to incur significant personal liability due to his or her profession, ask your estate planning attorney about an irrevocable discretionary lifetime trust. If an inheritance is left to such a person without any protections, it may be attached by a judgment creditor upon distribution. A successful beneficiary may also need tax planning. If the beneficiary’s inheritance is properly left in a lifetime trust with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, it may be removed from his or her taxable estate for federal estate tax purposes.

Although estate planning may be thought of as a way to transfer your assets to your family in a tax-efficient manner, it is also a way in which you can motivate, and at times protect, your loved ones.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (Dec. 22, 2020) “Handle with care: Tips on planning for the fragile beneficiary”