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!
As we all hunker down and prepare for Hurricane Irma please know that our thoughts and prayers are with all of you and your families for your safety and protection from property damage. Because of the expected track of the storm at this point and the likelihood of a greater impact here in Central Florida than originally anticipated we have decided to close our offices on Monday, September 11, 2017 for the safety and welfare of our employees. At this time we expect to be open on Tuesday, September 12, 2017 and back to normal operations. If anything changes from that we will notify you.
Although our concerns about the potential impact of Irma to Central Florida weigh heavily on our mind, we are still thinking of our fellow Americans in the Gulf Coast and Houston areas of Texas. Consequently we have made a contribution to both the American Red Cross and the Texas Access to Justice Foundation to help with not only the relief efforts for the people affected but to also support the efforts of the Texas Bar to assist those affected with the legal problems they will face in recovering from Hurricane Harvey.
An IRA is known as a retirement tool but it is also an estate planning tool. This is especially true with a stretch IRA, where the beneficiary of the account can delay taking out required minimum distributions and save a lot on taxes. However, that benefit is now coming under fire, according to Kiplinger in "Death of 'Stretch' IRAs Would Mean Loss of Flexibility for Beneficiaries."
Congress is considering doing away with the ability to stretch IRAs for non-spouse beneficiaries, if the accounts hold more than $450,000.
This proposal has passed in the Senate Finance Committee, since it is expected to raise federal revenue by a substantial amount. If this passes and becomes law, then estate plans will need to be revisited.
This idea is not yet currently law.
However, people who use IRAs as an important part of their estate plans would be advised to keep an eye on this issue and to start thinking about alternatives for their estate plans.
TheNew York Times recently published one doctor's experience with California’s “Right to Die” or “Dying with Dignity” law in "Should I Help My Patients Die?."
The law permits doctors to prescribe lethal doses of medication to terminally ill patients who have fewer than six months left to live. While the California law has been praised by many advocates, doctors are less certain about it.
The problem for doctors is that the Hippocratic Oath requires them to do no harm to their patients. Many doctors feel that hastening a patient’s death is doing harm.
While it can be argued that it cannot be considered harmful if it is something the patient wants, doctors do not necessarily see it that way.
The law permits doctors to prescribe the medication. It does not require them to do so.
Since the doctors can make the choice, it puts them in an uncomfortable position of having to choose whether a patient is going to live or die.
It is possible that other states may follow California’s example and pass such laws.
The Queen had planned to be buried in an elaborate glass sarcophagus beside her husband. However, the husband has refused to be buried with her.
The reason for his refusal is that he has never been happy with his royal title of "Prince Consort." He believes that he should be given the title of "King," even though the title of "Prince Consort" is traditional for the husbands of Queens in Europe.
Since we do not have this problem with titles in the U.S., we do not have fights over them. On the other hand, we do have plenty of other things that can cause issues between married couples.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances, which could involve some long-simmering disputes.
Unlike in past decades, a lot of important business is conducted online today. However, it does not leave a paper trail. This makes the job of estate executor even more difficult unless you plan ahead, according to the Times Standard recently in "You and the Law: Planning for the expected unexpected."
The problem is that if no one knows that a digital account exists and whether you own any digital property, then they might not even know to look for it.
Even if they had a vague notion that you have digital items of value, it would be difficult to even know where to look to find it.
Technology companies make it even more difficult, since they are loathe to provide any information about their customers, even after their customers are deceased.
Someone might know to check your email for any account information, but they would have a difficult time accessing that email.
To avoid these problems, estate planning is even more important than it was previously.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating a list of digital accounts for an estate plan that meets your unique circumstances.
An estate battle occurred in New Hampshire in 2013, when millionaire John Chakalos was found shot to death. Prior to his death, his grandson Nathan Carman had purchased a weapon and bullets of the same caliber as the one that shot Chakalos.
The estate was divided equally between Chakalos' four daughters, including Carman's mother Linda Carman.
In 2016, Nathan and Linda Carman went out on a boat. Something happened to the boat and Nathan was eventually found adrift by a Chinese ship, miles away from where he claimed the boat had sunk.
Linda was never found.
Nathan had claimed that he personally repaired holes in the boat to make it seaworthy, but insurance companies in court said the repairs were shoddy.
Linda Carman's three sisters have filed in court to prevent Nathan Carman from receiving any part of his mother's estate.
They accuse their nephew of murdering both his grandfather and his mother for the money.
However, investigations into the deaths remain open and no suspects have been officially named.
For centuries, courts have required a will be signed by the testator in order to be valid. However, an appellate court in Michigan recently ruled that a signature isn’t actually all that important, according to the Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog in "Unsigned Will? No problem!"
The court's decision rests on the interplay of two Michigan statutes, so it is not expected to spread to other states with different statutes.
The court decided that if the person presenting the will to the court can prove by clear and convincing evidence that it is the will of the deceased, then the court can accept the will for probate. Exactly how that can be proven without a signature is unclear.
Of course, this is not the law in any other state.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that fits your unique circumstances and follows the laws of your state.
According to the article Herb Lee, 87, became extremely ill after going out to dinner and was rushed to the hospital.
Lee had made it clear to his family that should he ever become seriously ill, he did not want any efforts made to prolong his life. He did not want respirators or feeding tubes. He did not want to be resuscitated.
The medical staff at the hospital could only give Lee half treatments that left him suffering in great pain.
The doctor who eventually had to make the decision about what to do was Lee's grandson-in-law. He later wrote about it and it was published in the newspaper.
Ultimately, the grandson-in-law decided to do what was necessary to save Lee's life, so he would not linger in great pain. Lee lived a normal life for several years after that and was able to enjoy many family events.
The grandson-in-law eventually asked Lee if in hindsight, he would want his life saved if he had to do it all over again and he said no.
The scientists genetically engineered mice, so they would have a condition similar to Alzheimer's. They then introduced a lemon to the mice and gave the mice a small electric shock, so the mice would associate the scent of lemons with being shocked.
When the scientists later gave the mice lemons, the mice did not appear to remember the shock, until the scientists used a laser to stimulate the neuron in the brains of the mice that were associated with the original memory.
When they gave the mice lemons again, the mice did seem to remember the shock and act in anticipation of it.
This suggests that the memories of Alzheimer's patients are not erased, but the patients just are not able to access the memories.