Almost every month I present an educational workshop called “The Truth About Estate Planning”. We start off our small group discussion citing similar horrible statistics. It is interesting to see that someone finally surveyed people to find out if their will was up to date. But, it appears that the definition of “up to date” used was rather narrow. A will was considered to be out of date for this survey if made before a person got married or had children. No one could argue with that.
But what about other life changes such as divorce, death of a family member, child becoming an addict, child taking on significant debt, child getting a divorce, a significant increase in net worth, a significant decrease in net worth, a change in the estate tax law, a change in other laws affecting estates, such as Florida’s Homestead law….and on and on. Using these broader concepts, I believe over 90% of Americans do not have an estate plan that will work when the time comes that it had better work.
Last e-newsletter, we addressed how difficult it can be to have "the talk" about dementia with a loved one. Many people also feel uncomfortable discussing end-of-life care with their parents. Although it may seem like it could put distance between you and them, having this talk can actually bring families closer together. Here's some advice on how to make the conversation as easy and painless as possible:
Just as it's not easy for parents to bring up the birds and the bees with their kids, it's anything but easy to begin a conversation with a loved one about how they want to live at the end of their lives. But it's vitally important to have “the talk” as soon as possible if your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
Celebrity deaths have a way of occupying the attention of the media. In addition, of course, to his immense talents, Prince’s recent death is noteworthy for his failure to do any estate planning. What lessons can us non-celebrities learn from his choice?
Let's face it: Probate can be stressful, contentious, lengthy, and tiresome. It's rarely a positive experience for a family to sort out a recently deceased loved one’s estate. If you've been through the process, you may have wished for a superhero to swoop in and save the day, solving the complicated problems in a flash.
The State of Florida recently released its annual statistical report on probate caseloads for the past year. The report goes a long way in explaining just why it's so often a painfully slow process to resolve a probate case.
In previous posts, we addressed digital assets and how difficult it might be for fiduciaries (personal representatives or trustees) of an estate to access the digital assets of a deceased loved one, specifically their Facebook account and assets such as email accounts. Although we had hopes that the Florida legislature would pass a bill on the subject early last year (Senate Bill 102), it unfortunately died on May 1. The Legislature, however, was determined to pass a bill on the subject, and we can now say that it has!
Here's the scenario: You're negotiating the settlement of an estate dispute with someone. They lie to you, and you then rely upon the lie to reach an agreement. Think you could sue when you found out about that lie, right? Not necessarily.
It turns out that a billionaire artist you've likely never heard of has considerable influence over the administration of your estate. His name is Robert Rauschenberg. And while he's nowhere near as well known as Warhol or van Gogh, he has their level of influence. How? Trustee fees, that’s how.