Thursday, July 12, 2012
When contemplating the big questions in life, did you ever wonder what would happen to your estate in the absence of a will? Probably not. But if you are morbidly curious, this calculator will tell you.
Note that this does not apply to insurance proceeds or retirement benefits unless the estate is designated as the beneficiary. Note also that the State only receives assets if there are no relatives under any branch of the family tree.
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
At the intersection of estate planing, celebrity, and public voyeurism, is the Thomas Kinkade estate litigation. At the time of his death, Mr. Kinkade was separated from his wife for 2 years and had been living with a girl friend for 18 months. His girl friend has offered 2 barely legible wills which leave her various sums. The illegibility is allegedly due to his inebriation while writing. Generally, a handwritten will is valid as is a will made while drunk (see the full article for some of the conditions and exceptions). This matter will take years to resolve.
What advice can we glean from Mr. Kinkade's handling (or non-handling) of his affairs:
1. Once separated from a spouse, change the estate planning documents immediately.
2. If changing the documents, hire an estate planning attorney rather than DIY.
3. If eschewing an estate planning attorney in favor of DIY, write the will while sober, not highly inebriated.
Still unresolved is the effect of his death on the value of his art. I am betting downward.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Back after a slow 4th of July news week. A checklist of items to address when getting re-married:
1. Consider a pre-nuptial agreement.
2. Revise will.
3. Change beneficiaries on retirement plans and insurance policies.
4. Take an inventory of assets (could be useful in lieu of a pre-nup).
5. Consider a pre-nuptial agreement. Repeated for effect. The other items will take care of themselves in the context of creating a pre-nuptial agreement.