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.

April 7

Planning for Your Blended Family

The recipe for creating a blended family consists of a couple, a child or children from a previous relationship or relationships, and possibly a child or children the couple produced together.

Needless to say, estate planning for blended families can be challenging. Yet, the varying complexities are what make estate planning crucial for this group of individuals.

Here is the scenario…

In an effort to keep things simple, let us say that you have a child and a house, both from a previous marriage. You meet, fall in love with, and marry the person of your dreams. Your ex spouse is deceased. Your new spouse does not have any children, does not own property, and has never been married until now.

Both you and your spouse are living in your house with your child. It is your intention to care for your spouse in the event of your death, but it’s also your intention to provide for your child as well.

What’s more; your spouse adopted your child, because you both understood that only a blood relative or an adopted child can inherit automatically from someone who dies without estate planning. What this means is if your spouse dies last (following our scenario), the normal course of action would be for the house and other assets to transfer to your spouse and then transfer to your child after the spouse dies. The problem is that the surviving spouse (whether they would do so or not) has a right to do as they please with the assets they inherit. Without planning or without the correct plan, there would be nothing in place to prevent your spouse from disinheriting your child, selling your house, or in some way reducing your child’s inheritance.

However, with the use of a trust agreement, you can add a provision to allow your spouse to remain in the home after your death. Your spouse has full use and benefit of the property but is unable to sell the home. You have peace of mind knowing whichever of you dies first the property will ultimately go to your child.

Of course, this is just one example of a strategy which might work in one scenario. In truth, all families are unique, their stories are unique and no one plan fits every scenario.

The best solution for parents of blended families, or for anyone interested in estate planning, is to visit an experienced estate planning attorney and discover what plan works best for them.

March 10

Defining Probate

Probate is a lengthy and expensive process which on average can take eight to twelve months to complete. The process is expensive. Closing a small estate could cost the estate thousands of dollars in legal fees. Closing a large estate could cost tens of thousands.
Closing a probate can only be accomplished by successfully performing a variety of steps. The court provides little forgiveness for mistakes, which is why the majority of executors hire an estate planning attorney to assist them.
The necessary steps to close a probate include: proving in court the validity of the decedent’s will (if there is one) and being appointed executor of the estate; identifying and inventorying the decedent’s assets; keeping track of expenditures; paying the estate’s debts and taxes; filing a tax return for the decedent; having the property or properties appraised; distributing the assets; filing an account with the court (which means listing any income gained by the estate after the date of death; as well as listing all expenses and estate distributions). … All of which must be completed in a certain order and within a strict time frame.
In addition to the aforementioned, the executor may be responsible to file a notice to creditors in a local newspaper and to post bond.
Without question, the best approach towards probate in most cases is to skip it altogether. This can be accomplished with the use of a valid trust agreement.
However, whether one is in a position where they are leaving assets to heirs, or in a position where they acting as executor with the responsibility of closing a friend or loved one’s estate, the best option always, is to consult a qualified attorney.

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