Estate Planning and Legacy Law Center, PLC writes about wills, trusts, powers of attorney, medical directives, health care directives, probate & trust administration, probate avoidance planning, Elder Law and more!
Many people today treat their pets as if they were members of their families and frequently leave their pets inheritances and trusts. These same people often want a traditional burial site for their pets. However, a problem has arisen in Belgrade, Serbia, according to Fox News in "Improvised pet graveyards hidden in Belgrade parks."
Belgrade has promised its citizens a pet cemetery for a decade, yet the project to actually build one is still in the planning phase.
Not wanting to wait for the city to create a place for their pets, many residents have taken to burying their pets in the city's parks in hidden graveyards.
The city does offer other ways to dispose of animal remains through official channels. However, that is not good enough for people who want a place they can go visit their beloved former pets.
What does this show? The pet human bond is stronger than ever.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that meets your unique circumstances. This could include the care of a family pet.
Pilar Abel may have had a good incentive to claiming to be Salvador Dali’s daughter such as an honest belief she was related or even the $250 million in the estate. However, she was unable to prove she was his daughter, according to the Wills, Trusts & Prof Blog in "Inheritance Disputes from Beyond the Grave."
The remains of Dali were exhumed recently by an order of a court in Spain after Abel convinced the court to exhume the body so DNA testing could be conducted.
It turns out that the DNA testing revealed Abel was not related to Dali.
It is not clear whether Abel knew that her story was false.
These post-death claims of those asserting heirship to a large estate are increasing, according to some in the estate law field.
That might seem strange, since DNA testing makes adjudicating any such claims relatively easy.
However, it goes to show how some people may be desperate to inherit money.
An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits you unique circumstances and prepare the estate to answer any challenges.
A woman who claimed she was the daughter of Jerry Lewis was never acknowledged by him. He never made an effort to see her, despite her attempt to do so in 1980. However, she may now be entitled to part of his estate, according to Page Six in "Jerry Lewis' daughter on being left out of his will."
At some point in his life, Lewis had a falling out with his sons and did not leave them anything in his will.
A woman named Susan Lewis Minoret, who shares 80% of her DNA with Lewis’ eldest son, has come forward and claimed that she is the daughter of Lewis.
Because he did not acknowledge her during his lifetime, it comes as no surprise that Susan is not mentioned in his will. Interestingly, that might mean she is entitled to part of his estate.
Often in order to disinherit a child, that child must be mentioned by name and specifically disinherited in the will.
This is done so the court can be sure that the omission of a child was not just an accident. However, in this case, because Suzan and Lewis did not have any kind of relationship at any point during his lifetime, her rights to any of his estate is less certain.
A court may be asked to decide whether Susan can have a portion of the estate.
U.K. television personality Bruce Forsyth disliked the British system of estate and gift taxes, so he avoided the situation by leaving everything to his wife who has a full “spousal” exemption from the inheritance tax, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "Should We Tax Gifts the British Way?" His decision means she may be able to give all Forsyth's descendants a share of the estate, without anyone ever having to pay tax on it.
The U.K. and the U.S. treat taxes on gifts and estates differently leading to his decision.
In the U.S., we have an estate tax on estates that exceed the exemption amount. Currently, that amount is $5.49 million per taxpayer (going up to $5.6 million on Jan. 1, 2018).
The estate must pay tax on the value above the exemption amount, before any assets are distributed to heirs.
The U.K. has an inheritance tax. Instead of taxing the entire estate, they tax what the heirs receive after the estate is distributed.
In the U.S., we have limits on the amount that may be gifted away before a person dies. Why? It is done so those with potentially large estates cannot avoid taxes by giving everything away while they are living.
The U.K. only taxes gifts, if they occur within seven years of the giver's death. If gifts are made within that timeframe, then the gifts are considered part of the estate and subject to the inheritance tax.
Thus, if Forsyth's wife lives for another seven years at least, then she can give everyone a large inheritance from Forsyth with no tax being owed.
An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and adheres to the laws of the U.S. and your state of residence.
People are becoming more and more concerned about their environmental footprint and focus in everyday life on cleaner cars and recycling. However, those who want an environmentally friendly final resting place do not have many options.
The best option for most people is to get a casket that is easily biodegradable, but not all funeral homes offer them.
Traditional cremation requires a hot fire that produces carbon emissions and uses fossil fuel.
A new cremation method uses an alkaline solution heated to 300 degrees that liquefies human remains. Instead of producing ashes, the remains are a brown liquid substance that resembles maple syrup. The method does not use fossil fuels and does not emit carbon.
California is the 15th state to allow this form of water-cremation. If it becomes popular there, it may move to other states, including yours.
The most common reason to get a life insurance policy is to provide financial support for a spouse or other loved one, after the policy holder passes away. However, if the spouse or other loved one predeceases the policy holder, should the policy be cancelled and the money spent on other things?
One problem with that thinking is this: all of the money that was paid in premiums is basically wasted.
Older Americans can often get cash by selling their life insurance policies to life settlement companies that see the policies as good investments.
The settlement company continues to pay the premium and then receives the payout when the original policy holder passes away.
For a life settlement company to see the policy as a good investment opportunity, they have to take a gamble that the policy holder will pass away sooner rather than later. Therefore, the older and sicker an insured is, the more money he or she is likely to get when selling a life insurance policy.
A court in London has determined that the trusts created by former Russian senator Sergey Pugachev were fraudulent and set up to hide the fact Pugachev still controls the assets he allegedly took from the bank he formerly owned, according to the Russian Legal Information Agency in "London court declares trusts of ex-Russian senator Pugachev sham."
Pugachev used to be an elected Russian senator who owned a large bank. The bank was declared bankrupt in 2010 and an investigation was launched to determine if there had been any criminal activity.
Pugachev fled the country and was eventually accused of embezzling millions from the bank. However, he claimed to have very few assets. He even sued the Russian government in European courts demanding that he be compensated for billions of dollars in assets that Russia had allegedly taken from him.
This illustrates a key point in trust law, although the specifics are different in every jurisdiction.
Trusts designed to hide assets from known creditors, especially for criminal purposes, will not be allowed.
While a trust can be a great way to protect assets from future creditors, it is not something that can be used to avoid paying current debt.
A trust also will not protect assets obtained through criminal means.
An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and may include a trust.