Can Liz Hurley’s Son Inherit Grandfather’s Fortune?
Can Liz Hurley’s Son Inherit Grandfather’s Fortune?

Can Liz Hurley’s Son Inherit Grandfather’s Fortune?

Can Liz Hurley’s Son Inherit Grandfather’s Fortune? Multi-millionaire Dr. Peter Bing recently tried to stop Liz Hurley’s 17-year-old son Damian from getting access to his fortune—because he was born out of wedlock and claimed therefore that he was not a “grandchild.”

However, Wealth Advisor’s recent article, “Liz Hurley’s son Damian wins legal battle against grandfather over inheritance,” says that a Los Angeles judge ruled recently that Damian–fathered by Dr. Bing’s son, Steve–is a rightful beneficiary of the family trust.

Dr. Bing argued that his son, American businessman Steve Bing, has “never met” Damian and he doesn’t want the child to inherit any of his fortune.

In addition, Dr. Bing insisted that after creating the family trust in 1980, he stipulated that any grandchild must be “raised by my children as part of their families” to benefit from it.

The elder Bing noted in recent court papers that the trust “would not benefit any person born out of wedlock, unless that person had lived for a substantial period of time as a regular member of the household”.

Dr. Bing claimed that the definition of the term “grandchild” in the trust was unclear.

However, in court papers, Judge Daniel Juarez wrote: “There is no ambiguity in the trust’s use of the term ‘grandchild’”.

“The trustee’s [Dr Bing] interpretation of the trusts is unreasonable, and the trustee’s construction of ‘grandchild’ is simply unfounded.”

Damian was born to The Royals actress Elizabeth Hurley in 2002.

Steve Bing is worth roughly $555 million. He initially denied that he was Damian’s father, saying the couple was not in an exclusive relationship at the time. However, a paternity test proved he was the father of the child.

Can Liz Hurley’s Son Inherit Grandfather’s Fortune? The Court determined that Damian was legally a grandchild entitled to a portion of Steve Bing’s multi-million dollar fortune.

Reference: Wealth Advisor (July 23, 2019) “Liz Hurley’s son Damian wins legal battle against grandfather over inheritance”

 

Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready
Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready

Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready

Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready. It’s always a good idea to review your estate plan, especially when a major life event, like a second marriage, is taking place. The use of a pre-nuptial agreements gives prospective spouses the opportunity to discuss one another’s rights of inheritance, and clarify a great many issues, says nwi.com in the article “Estate Planning: Planning for second marriages.”

There’s a second opportunity to sign an agreement detailing inheritance rights after the wedding takes place, called a “post-nuptial agreement.” The problem is that once the wedding has occurred and you are both legally married, you might get stuck with some surprises and, well, you’re married. For most people, it’s better to set things out before the wedding, rather than after.

There also may have been dissolution decrees in one or both of the couple’s prior divorces that have requirements which must be satisfied. A spouse may be required to maintain life insurance with the ex-spouse as a beneficiary. This can have an impact on the couple’s estate plan. It is recommended that you have everything discussed up front in the pre-nup.

Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready. The rest of the steps are those that should be followed for any estate review.

Make sure that the last will and testament reflects your new spouse. If there are any mentions of the prior spouse, you probably want to remove them.

Verify how all of the assets are owned. Will they continue to be owned by just one spouse, or converted to jointly owned? Does your estate plan have a trust, and if so, are assets owned by the trust? Does there need to be a change made to your trustees?

Many people don’t remember how their bank accounts are titled. Fewer still can tell you who their beneficiaries are on their retirement accounts, life insurance policies and bank accounts. Remember: the beneficiary designations are going to determine who receives these assets, regardless of any language in your last will and testament. Once you die, there is no way to contest that distribution. Review your accounts and make sure that the beneficiaries are up to date.

Part of your pre-nup and estate plan review will be to discuss inheritance rights for any children in the blended family. Do you want to leave assets only for your children, or do you want to leave assets for all the children? It’s not an easy conversation to have, especially at the start of the blending process.

Second Time Down the Aisle? Make Sure Estate Plan Is Ready. Remember also that blended family dynamics can change over the years. When you review your estate plan next—in three to four years—you’ll have the opportunity to make changes that hopefully will reflect deepening bonds between all of the family members. Your estate planning attorney will help create and revise estate plans, as your life circumstances evolve.

Reference: nwi.com (May 5, 2019) “Estate Planning: Planning for second marriages”

 

Is it Worth it to Contest a Will?
Is it Worth it to Contest a Will?

Is it Worth it to Contest a Will?

Is it Worth it to Contest a Will? If it helps, and it might not, this happens more frequently than you’d think. The response is sometimes shock, other times, it’s anger. However, according to this recent article from Forbes, “5 Things You Should Know About Contesting A Will,” before you start making revenge plans or hiring the most tenacious attorney in town, take a deep breath. You need to consider some cold hard facts:

Is it Worth it to Contest a Will?

  1. Litigation is expensive. Many people will ask if an attorney will take the case on a contingency fee basis—typically a third of what you receive, and he or she only gets paid if you do. Most probate attorney won’t take a will contest on a contingency fee, because there’s a risk they won’t get paid. If they do, be certain that you have an experienced estate planning attorney with experience in estate battles.
  2. Have lots of Rolaids on hand. You’re gonna need them. It’s a rough journey, one that can be full of lies, misrepresentations and accusations. There may also be a counter lawsuit against you. You’ll probably be deposed in a deposition, where the opposing lawyer will ask you questions about the case. You may be portrayed as greedy, and you might have to testify in court.
  3. Snap decisions are required. Once you hire your attorney, he or she will work with you to develop a strategy for the case. Your attorney may recommend that you file suit immediately and be the first one into the courthouse. On the other hand, your counsel may think it best to send a letter to the attorney representing the person you’re suing with a request for information. Depending the response, you may decide to file suit. In most cases, you’ll have a limited time to contest the will. If you don’t do so within that time period, you can’t bring a lawsuit. Talk to an experienced attorney shortly after the death.
  4. You’ll probably reach a settlement. Once the litigation has begun, and the attorneys have had time to exchange information and do some fact finding (in what is known as the discovery process), your attorney will talk to you about the strengths and weaknesses of your case. It may be appropriate at that juncture for one side to present the other with a settlement offer. This would end the litigation without the time and expense of trial. This may be a wise option, if you’re tired of fighting and willing to consider a settlement instead of going to trial. Your attorney may also point out weaknesses in your case and advise you to be happy with getting a settlement. That way you can move on with your life. You should approach the settlement like a business decision, and try to keep emotion out of it.
  5. Expect emotional pain. While you may get some satisfaction if you win, you will may lose any connection with the people you bring to court. If you lose, well, that’s a lose-lose proposition. No matter how big the win, any underlying emotional issues will still be with you. Be prepared to be very businesslike about any estate battle.

Reference: Forbes (May 21, 2018) “5 Things You Should Know About Contesting A Will”  

Is it Worth it to Contest a Will? To finish like a lawyer-it depends.

 

Dissolving the Mystery of Probate
Dissolving the Mystery of Probate

Dissolving the Mystery of Probate

Dissolving the Mystery of Probate. Probate can be avoided with proper estate planning, or certain assets can be placed outside of the probate process.

The Street’s recent article on this subject asks “What Is Probate and How Can You Avoid It?” The article looks at the probate process and tries to put it in real-life terms.

Probate is an estate planning process that works within a probate court with the Surrogates’ Court judge presiding over the proceedings. Usually, surviving families and other interested parties initiate a probate process, to address issues relating to the deceased individual’s estate settlement. These include:

  • The handling of the deceased’s valid will;
  • Properly citing and categorizing the deceased’s assets;
  • Appraising the deceased’s estate and property;
  • Paying off any of the deceased’s existing debts; and
  • Distributing the deceased’s property to those directed by the will (or, if there’s no will, the probate court will direct the distribution of estate assets, according to the laws of intestacy).

The executor handling the deceased’s estate will typically start the process. Dissolving the Mystery of Probate…here are the basic steps:

File a Petition. The estate’s executor will file a request for probate where the deceased resided.  The court will then assign a date to confirm the executor and, once that is done, the probate judge will officially open the probate case.

Notice. The executor must send a notice that the deceased’s estate is officially in probate to all applicable beneficiaries, heirs, debtors and creditors.

Inventory Assets. The executor will then collect, list and present a value for all of the deceased’s assets and supply this to the probate court.

Pay the Bills. The executor will need to pay all outstanding debts owed by the estate.

Complete Any Tax Returns. The estate may also have existing tax returns that need to be filed. An accountant can be hired by the estate to work on this, or the executor may choose to file the taxes on his or her own.

Pay the Heirs. The executor can now distribute the remainder of the estate to any heirs, according to the will’s instructions.

Close the Estate. Finally, the executor will file paperwork with the court and file to close the estate.

An experienced estate planning attorney licensed to practice in your state will be able to explain what strategies are used to avoid probate, how to remove certain assets from the process, or whether it needs to be avoided at all. In some regions, probate is swift, while in others it is long and tiresome. A local estate planning attorney is your best resource.

Reference: The Street (July 29, 2019) Dissolving the Mystery of Probate “What Is Probate and How Can You Avoid It?”

 

Your Estate Plan Decides or the State Decides
Your Estate Plan Decides or the State Decides

Your Estate Plan Decides or the State Decides

Your Estate Plan Decides or the State Decides.

It’s something that everyone needs, but often gets overlooked. Estate planning makes some people downright uncomfortable. There’s no law that says you must have an estate plan—just laws that will impact how your property is distributed and who will raise your children, if you don’t have a will. Planning is important, says WMUR 9 in a recent article “Money Matters: Estate planning,” if you want to be the one making those decisions.

An estate plan can be simple, if you only own a few assets, or complicated if you have significant assets, more than one home and multiple investments. Some strategies are easier to implement, like a last will and testament. Others can be simple or complex, like trusts. Whatever your needs, an estate planning attorney will be able to give you the guidance that your unique situation requires. Your estate planning attorney may work with your financial advisor and accountant to be sure that your financial and legal plans work together to benefit you and your family.

There are circumstances that require special estate planning and Your Estate Plan Decides or the State Decides

  • If your estate is valued at more than the federal gift and/or estate tax exclusion, which is $11.4 million per person in 2019
  • You have minor children
  • There are family members with special needs who rely on your support
  • You own a business
  • You own property in more than one state
  • You want to leave a charitable legacy
  • Your property includes artwork or other valuable collectables
  • You have opinions about end-of-life healthcare
  • You want privacy for your family

The first step for any estate plan is a thorough review of the family finances, dynamics and assets. Who are your family members? How do you want to help them? What do they need? What is your tax picture like? How old are you, and how good is your health? These are just a few of the things an estate planning attorney will discuss with you. Once you are clear on your situation, you’ll discuss overall goals and objectives. The attorney will be able to outline your options, whether you are concerned with passing wealth to the next generation, avoiding family disputes, preparing for a disability or transferring ownership of a business.

A last will and testament will provide clear, legal direction as to how your assets should be distributed and who will care for any minor children.

A trust is used to address more complex planning concerns and to provide instructions if incapacitated. A trust is a legal entity that holds assets to be used for the benefit of one or more individuals. It is overseen by a trustee or trustees, who can be individuals you name or professionals.

If you create trusts, it is important that assets be retitled so the trust owns the assets and not you personally. If the assets are not retitled, the trust will not achieve your goals.

Some property typically has its own beneficiary designations, like IRAs, retirement accounts and life insurance. These assets pass directly to heirs according to the designation, but only if you make the designations on the appropriate forms.

Once you’re done with your estate plan, make a note on your calendar. Estate plans and beneficiary designations need to be reviewed every three or four years. Lives change, laws change and your estate plan needs to keep pace.

Reference: WMUR 9 (Aug. 1, 2019) “Money Matters: Estate planning”

 

What Does a Probate Attorney Really Do?
What Does a Probate Attorney Really Do?

What Does a Probate Attorney Really Do?

What Does a Probate Attorney Really Do? If you’ve recently experienced the death of a loved one, you may have spent a lot of time and money dealing with their estate and trying to get their assets out of probate.

KAKE.com’s recent article, “Do I Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?: The Top Signs You Should Lawyer Up” says that trying to do this on your own can often be time-consuming and expensive. That’s why it’s smart to have a probate lawyer working with you.

What Does a Probate Attorney Really Do? A probate or estate planning lawyer is one who specializes in issues related to a deceased person’s estate. They have a broad range of responsibilities, which includes the following:

  • Guiding people through the probate process;
  • Advising the beneficiaries of an estate;
  • Representing beneficiaries, if they become involved in lawsuits related to the estate; and
  • Helping with challenges to the validity of the deceased’s will.

If you’re unsure about hiring a lawyer, consider whether you’re dealing with any of these issues in your case:

A Will Contest. This is when another beneficiary challenges the will. If someone contests the will, it will drag out the process and could put you at risk of losing what your loved one wanted for you to have.

Divided Assets. When split assets are part of an estate, things get complicated, especially when you have intangible assets. To avoid trouble, hire a lawyer who can help navigate the division of these assets and make certain that everything is handled in a fair manner.

An Estate Doesn’t Qualify for the Simple Probate Process. Probate can be extremely complicated. Depending on the size of the estate, it may qualify for simpler procedures that are completed relatively quickly. If this isn’t the case for the estate at issue, you should get a probate attorney to help you.

There’s Considerable Debt. If your loved one died with many debts, the estate will need to be used to pay those off. This can be tricky to manage on your own. An experienced attorney will help you make sure everything gets paid off and can negotiate debts to ensure you and the other beneficiaries receive as much from the estate as possible.

There’s Estate Tax Due. While most estates don’t have to pay any federal taxes, some states have their own estate taxes that apply to estates worth $1 million or more. It’s not an easy process, so it’s a good idea to work with an experienced estate planning attorney.

There’s a Business in the Estate. You need to ask an attorney to you sort this out, because this will include the process of appraising, managing and selling a business of the deceased owner.

If any of these situations apply to you, hire an attorney with the necessary qualifications to deal with estates and the probate process.

Reference: KAKE.com (August 9, 2019) “Do I Need to Hire a Probate Lawyer?: The Top Signs You Should Lawyer Up”

 

How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes?
How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes?

How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes?

How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes?

Donald J. Trump has called for the rich to pay more in taxes and proposed plans that let them to pay less. However, the one thing that’s remained consistent is his hatred of the estate tax—a “lousy tax” and a “horrible weapon that has destroyed many families.” This intense animosity makes sense, given the state of his finances.

Forbes’s recent article, “Donald Trump’s Financial Carelessness Could Cost His Kids $1.3 Billion In Taxes,” estimates that Trump has paid each of his three eldest children—Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump—about $35 million in salary, commissions and bonuses for their work as execs at the Trump Organization. He’s also given them modest stakes in a handful of relatively insignificant ventures. The rest of the first family—daughter Tiffany, son Barron, and wife Melania—don’t looked to have received very much at all. As a result, Trump is firmly in control of a $3.1 billion tax time bomb. How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes? Trump appears to have one of the worst tax strategies in the country.

However, he’s also in a position to relieve his family of much of the burden, by just repealing the federal estate tax. He’s already tried and failed to do this once. Now, two years after his tax cuts tweaked the estate tax rules, it’s not enough to affect the super-wealthy. As a result, his allies in Congress are trying to kill the tax again. If they do, it would likely save the Trumps more than $1 billion—enough to make it the most lucrative deal of Donald Trump’s life.

Trump owns 40 assets through a maze of hundreds of holding companies—all of which are owned, in the end, by the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust. Trusts are a common tool for transferring assets to heirs, his just holds the investments “for the benefit of Donald J. Trump.” Even though they’ve worked for years as execs at the Trump Organization, Trump’s three adult children own a meaningful stake in just one significant project, the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. They each own a 7.5% share, worth $5 million apiece. However, that’s cumulatively just 0.5% of the family’s wealth.

This confuses a lot of experts.

Trump could be planning on giving his fortune to charity—though this seems extremely unlikely. One explanation might come from the step-up in basis. When someone dies owning an asset they acquired inexpensively, the basis used for capital gains tax calculations increases to the market value at the time of death. This saves the heirs a lot of money, if they ever decide to sell. The capital gains taxes Trump would save through step-up might offset much of the estate tax hit. He could also pass his assets to his wife tax free, giving the family some extra time to plan for succession.

How is Donald Trump Doing with His Estate Taxes? Well, it does not appear that he has a comprehensive plan to address the maze of companies and the multiple millions involved.

This still doesn’t explain why Trump hasn’t been handing out more equity in new projects to his heirs—especially since one of his major businesses—the licensing of his name to other owner’s buildings—is suited for such moves. Because he invests very little money in the projects, he could transfer those deals without paying much gift tax. The cash flow and any future appreciation in value would pass directly to his heirs, so there’d be no estate tax. It’s sound like a no-brainer, yet Trump hasn’t done it.

By keeping all the equity, he remains in control of his empire. This is important if he plans on retaking control after he’s done with politics.

Reference: Forbes (August 9, 2019) “Donald Trump’s Financial Carelessness Could Cost His Kids $1.3 Billion In Taxes”

 

Can You Estate Plan Like George Washington?
Can You Estate Plan Like George Washington?

Can You Estate Plan Like George Washington?

Can You Estate Plan Like George Washington? Estate planning for those you love can dramatically change your family for generations. Did you know that in his last will and testament of 1799, George Washington detailed his vision for his legacy? He bequeathed the “use, profit, and benefit” of his whole estate to his “dearly beloved wife Martha Washington.” In addition, he forgave the debts of many of his family members, financed the establishment of a school for orphans, set aside stock for what’s now Washington and Lee University and made arrangements to care for other loved ones.

Kiplinger’s recent article, “Smart Tips for Estate Planning: Write Your Will Like George Washington Did” reports that Washington’s estate plan was more than 5,500 words—the equivalent of nine single-spaced pages.

While your estate planning may not require the same degree of detail, there is an important lesson to be learned from Washington: his writing was personal and captured his exact situation at the time and laid out his future vision. Hopefully, your own estate plan will have the same personalization. However, remember that estate planning isn’t limited to a single legal document.

It is imperative for both spouses to have a good working knowledge of a family’s intentions. Both spouses should participate in drafting the documents to avoid unforeseen complications during stressful times. It is also good for both spouses to be comfortable with the family’s financial adviser, attorney and accountant. In addition, communicating the estate plan to the couple’s children is essential.

Of course, not every spouse will take an eager interest in estate planning, and not every child will want to see the detailed disposition of assets. If this happens to you, put in place a basic protocol, such as “call our estate planning attorney.”

In addition to your last will and testament, you may want to think about a “personal statement of intent” or a “letter of wishes” within your own legacy design. This document works in concert with your will to provide your heirs with a deeper level of personalization and explanation of your rationales. This document is non-binding and typically is accessible only to the people you stipulate, such as your executor, trustee and heirs. A personal statement of intent can help to clarify the rationale behind the provisions of your will.

Can You Estate Plan Like George Washington? As you consider your estate plan, think of George and remember the foundational values of communication, clarity and customization.

Reference: Kiplinger (August 9, 2019) “Smart Tips for Estate Planning: Write Your Will Like George Washington Did”

 

How Does Contesting a Will Work?
How Does Contesting a Will Work?

How Does Contesting a Will Work?

How Does Contesting a Will Work? When someone dies, their estate may have to go through the probate process. If they left a will, it can be legally contested in Surrogates’ Court.

Understanding how this works is important, if you’ve been named as a beneficiary of an estate or you’re concerned that your own will may one day be contested.

KTVA’s recent article, “How to Contest a Will in Probate Court,” explains that any interested party can contest a will, and what qualifies as an interested party is pretty broad. It typically means any person or business that may stand to gain (or lose) an asset, if the will is successfully proven to be invalid. This will include people who may not be named in the will and people who can inherit from it according to the inheritance laws in your state.

There are several reasons why a will may be legally contested during the probate process. Some of the most common grounds are questions about the mental state of the testator, claims of undue influence, suspected fraud or forgery and the possible improper preparation or execution of the will.

How Does Contesting a Will Work? Let’s look at the steps in contesting a will:

Step 1: Research. Be certain that you have grounds to make a challenge. It’s best to work with an experienced probate attorney who knows the laws for contesting a will in your state and whether your reason for wanting to challenge the will is covered by state probate law. He or she will also know how long after a person’s death you have to raise an objection to a will.

Step 2: Filing Your Petition. To contest a will during probate, you’d need to file a petition to challenge the will in court. An estate planning attorney can again do this for you, if there is a substantial amount of assets at stake or other people are also challenging the will.

Step 3: Collect Evidence. The court will then set a date to hear your case. Before that occurs, work on gathering evidence to support your claim that the will isn’t valid. The more valid evidence you can gather, the stronger your case may be.

Challenging a will can drag on for months or years. Before contesting a will, decide whether it’s worth your time and money.

Minimize the risks of your own will being challenged after you die, by working with an estate planning attorney. Your attorney can help make sure your will is legal and properly structured, so it is protected from challenges.

Reference: KTVA (August 16, 2019) “How to Contest a Will in Probate Court”

 

How Do Trusts Work in Your Estate Plan? 
How Do Trusts Work in Your Estate Plan? 

How Do Trusts Work in Your Estate Plan? 

How Do Trusts Work in Your Estate Plan? A trust can be a useful tool for passing on assets, allowing them to be held by a responsible trustee for beneficiaries. However, determining which type of trust is best for each family’s situation and setting them up so they work with an estate plan, can be complex. You’ll do better with the help of an estate planning attorney, says The Street in the article “How to Set Up a Trust Fund: What You Need to Know.”

Depending upon the assets, a trust can help avoid estate taxes that might make the transfer financially difficult for those receiving the assets. The amount of control that is available with a trust, is another reason why they are a popular estate planning tool.

First, make sure that you have enough assets to make using a trust productive. There are some tax complexities that arise with the use of trusts. Unless there is a fair amount of money involved, it may not be worth the expense. Once you’ve made that decision, it’s time to consider what type of trust is needed.

Revocable Trusts are trusts that can be changed. If you believe that you will live for a long time, you may want to use a revocable trust, so you can make changes to it, if necessary. Because of its flexibility, you can change beneficiaries, terminate the trust, or leave it as is. You have options. Once you die, the revocable trust becomes irrevocable and distributions and assets shift to the beneficiaries.

A revocable trust avoids probate for the trust, but will be counted as part of your “estate” for estate tax purposes. They are includable in your estate, because you maintain control over them during your lifetime.

They are used to help manage assets as you age, or help you maintain control of assets, if you don’t believe the trustees are not ready to manage the funds.

Irrevocable Trusts cannot be changed once they have been implemented. If estate taxes are a concern, it’s likely you’ll consider this type of trust. The assets are given to the trust, thus removing them from your taxable estate.

Deciding whether to use an irrevocable trust is not always easy. You’ll need to be comfortable with giving up complete control of assets.

These are just two of many different types of trusts. There are trusts set up for distributions to pay college expenses, Special Needs Trusts for disabled individuals, charitable trusts for philanthropic purposes and more. Your estate planning attorney will be able to identify what trusts are most appropriate for your situation.

Here’s how to prepare for your meeting with an estate planning attorney:

List all of your assets. List everything you might want to place in a trust: including accounts, investments and real estate.

List beneficiaries. Include primary and secondary beneficiaries.

Map out the specifics. Who do you want to receive the assets? How much do you want to leave them? You should be as detailed as possible.

Choose a trustee. You’ll need to name someone you trust implicitly, who understands your financial situation and who will be able to stand up to any beneficiaries who might not like how you’ve structured your trust. It can be a professional, if there are no family members or friends who can handle this task.

Don’t forget to fund the trust. This last step is very important. The trust document does no good, if the trusts are not funded. You may do better letting your estate planning attorney handle this task, so that accounts are properly titled with assets and the trusts are properly registered with the IRS.

How Do Trusts Work in Your Estate Plan? Creating a trust fund can be a complex task. However, with the help of an experienced estate planning attorney, this strategy can yield a lifetime of benefits for you and your loved ones.

Reference: The Street (July 22, 2019) “How to Set Up a Trust Fund: What You Need to Know”