August 11

Estate Planning for Singles

Singles can benefit from estate planning every bit as much as married people … Maybe more.

In regards to protecting assets:

When a person dies without a will, the law dictates that the person’s assets transfer to their closest living relatives. If the person is married, the assets transfer to their spouse and/or children.

If the person is single, the assets transfer to their children, parents, siblings, etc., providing they have immediate living family. However, if the single person does not have any immediate living relatives, the assets transfer to the state. It then becomes the responsibility of the state to decide how and to whom the assets are to be distributed.

If the person wishes to have a say as to what happens to the assets, the person must make their wishes known through a will and/or trust.

In regards to health related decisions:

Suppose a person became incapacitated and they were unable to make financial or medical decisions for themselves. Or what if they are unable to pay their bills, or worse, make critical end of life decisions for themselves.

When a person without estate planning becomes incapacitated, a family member (often a wife or adult child) will usually see an attorney about gaining a conservatorship of the person.

In regards to our single person, it might benefit them more than a married person not to let this happen; which is to say, to put something in place so their wishes are known should the worst happen.

Luckily, estate planning documents like a Health Care Directive make it possible for a person to choose an agent (someone to make medical decisions on behalf of the person should the person become unable to make decisions for him or herself).

But again, married people often rely on their spouse or adult children to act as agent. Single people on the other hand do not share the convenience of deferring to a spouse. And supposing the single person does not have an adult child willing to serve as agent, who do they choose?

For a single person, having the ability to name a friend or alternate family member as agent could be tremendously important.

Without question, estate planning provides benefits and challenges for all people regardless of their relationship status. And yet, planning might very well provide greater value to those who do not have a spouse or partner to lean on.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

July 12

George Michael’s Estate Plan

As a rule, when you read an article about a celebrity on an estate planning website, the article usually illustrates how the celebrity died without proper planning. – A mistake which ultimately left his or her estate in total disarray and the family heading towards a long grueling court battle.

In truth, these stories are the exception rather than the rule. Because the simple fact is estate planning works.

Submitted for your approval is the exception to the exception…

Singer/song writer, George Michael died Sunday, December 25, 2016. He was only fifty three years old.

In life, George Michael was something of an outspoken artist with a rebellious spirit. It would be easy to predict his as one of those celebrity estates left in disarray. Only, it wasn’t.

By all accounts, George Michaels’ planning was current and well drafted.

His estate was valued at one hundred five million pounds (approximately one hundred twenty five million in U.S. dollars)

Michael who was particularly close to his sister, Melanie, (who worked as his personal hair stylist), reportedly left her fifty million pounds (more than sixty two million in U.S. dollars).

His sister, Yioda is expected to inherit a healthy chunk of the estate as well. As are his two god children and several charities.

No one needs to be a rock star to have effective planning, any more than they need to be a rock star to have defective planning. Anyone who plans well, works with a qualified attorney and keeps their plan regularly updated should enjoy tremendous peace of mind knowing their assets will go to who they intend them to.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

June 9

Estate Planning for DINKs

Since the nineteen eighties there has been a growing trend towards married couples either putting off having children, or choosing not to have them at all. Many people call these married couples without children, DINKs; an acronym which stands for “dual income no kids.” And as you might expect, estate planning for DINKs can be very different than planning for “traditional” married couples.

For one thing, “traditional” married couples often plan with the intent of leaving the bulk of the estate to their children. Whereas DINKs (not having children of their own), are free to leave assets to family, friends, charities, all or none of the aforementioned.

DINKs are also expected to enjoy keeping more money in their youth. While their “traditional” married couple counterparts are expected to incur greater expense by paying for child related items and services such as diapers, school supplies and daycare.

“Traditional” married couples hold one distinct advantage over DINKs however. In regards to choosing their agents (people who make either financial or health related decisions for them if they become incapacitated). “Traditional” families often rely on their children to serve in these roles. This isn’t to say DINKs are without options. In fact, they have all the same options as married couples … minus one.

Still, where they may differ, “DINKs” and “traditional” married couples have one thing in common. They can both benefit from estate planning even if how they plan is very different.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

May 5

Wrigley and the Chicago Cubs

One of the truly big human interest stories of 2016 was the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series. The Cubs, who won back to back World Series in 1907 and 1908, had not won in one hundred and eight years – which is pretty much the all time record for sports related slumps. However, on November 2, 2016 the slump ended, the curse of the goat lifted, and the Cubbies took home their third career trophy.

Although denied a trophy during his time as owner, chewing gum mogul, William Wrigley Jr. was arguably the Cub’s biggest fan. Wrigley acquired controlling interest in 1921, and immediately began promoting, funding and acquiring athletic talent for the team.

On Tuesday, January 26, 1932 Mr. Wrigley died. His son, Philip inherited ownership of Wm Wrigley Jr. Company, and with it, the Chicago Cubs.

Philip shared his father’s cunning for business and his interest in baseball, but Philip did not share William’s savvy for estate planning. When Philip died Tuesday, April 12, 1977, his estate owed between forty and fifty million dollars in taxes.

Philip’s son, William Wrigley III inherited the company and the debt. William III was forced to sell ownership of the Cubs and of Wrigley Field in order to pay the tax bill. The fallout led to family fighting, and ultimately to the sale of Wm Wrigley Jr. Company in 2008 by William “Bill” Wrigley IV.

Today, the Cub’s stadium continues to bear the name, Wrigley Field in recognition of the Wrigley family and their sixty years of ownership.

For more information about wills, trusts or other estate planning documents, please contact a qualified estate planning attorney.

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