Philip Seymour Hoffman’s will was filed in court yesterday, and has already gotten a lot of press. He did some unusual things – most poignantly, he did not create trust funds for his children. But he also did not update his will after his younger two kids were born, nor did he make provisions for the possibility that he might have more kids. So they are in a bit of legal limbo, as this article shows. How can you avoid … read more »
Pete Seeger’s Legacy – And Pete Seeger’s Will
I just read an article in the NY Daily News about Pete Seeger’s will. While I am dismayed that they talk about the dollar value of his estate, I love that his instruments have names, and that the kids each got an instrument But Pete’s impact is not in his will. It is in his legacy. How he taught millions of people that they can feel community by singing together. How music brings us together, rich and poor, young and … read more »
DOMA and the States
There is no doubt that the Supreme Court’s recent decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was historic, and will forever change the lives for millions of same-sex couples and their families. There are over 1,100 federal benefits now available to married same sex couples that were previously only available to married heterosexual couples. But DOMA is not entirely deceased. There were 2 parts to DOMA – the part that remains intact is the part that says that states … read more »
Remember to update your documents!
Many people prepare financial statements in the process of getting divorced. This is a good time to look at all of your accounts, and to update your beneficiaries. After all, you might not want your ex to receive an unexpected gain in several years because you never got around to it. Common accounts that have beneficiary designations include: Life Insurance Retirement and IRA accounts Some brokerage or savings accounts It is also a good time to update your estate planning … read more »
Do Children have a Right to Inherit?
I recently got an inquiry from someone who wanted to write a will leaving everything to one of her children, but not the other. They were both under 18. Was this legal? she asked. Her younger child was being raised by his father and step-mother, and they were well off. She hadn’t seen him in years, and had no relationship with him, although she was paying child support, which was taken out of her check bi-weekly. She greatly resented having … read more »
New Tax Law Affecting Estate Planning
The new tax bill signed into law last week affects estate planning in the following ways, effective January 1, 2011: The federal estate tax exemption is now $5,000,000 per person (but there is still no tax when property passes to a surviving spouse). This is the amount that can pass free of federal estate taxes. (This was $3.5 million in 2009.) The federal estate tax rate is now 35% (this was 45% in 2009). The New York State estate exemption … read more »
Who will get your property when you die?
Who will inherit from you if you die without a will? It might not be the people you feel most connected to. Here is the order in New York State. If you don’t have a relative in one category, see the next category down. (for instance, if you don’t have a spouse, your money will go to your kids). If you have a spouse and kids, your spouse gets the first $50,000 + half of the remaining estate. Your kids … read more »
Estate Planning as a Family Conversation
The NY Times ran a terrific article last week about the value of talking about your estate plan with your family. Although it may cause some friction at the time, it gives family members a chance to vent, to speak their piece, and it gives parents (or whomever is doing the planning) an opportunity to explain their thinking. Many parents leave their estate to be divided equally among their children. While this is logical, and appears fair on the surface, … read more »