Checklist: Gathering Asset Information After a Trust Settlor Dies

After the death of the settlor of a single-person revocable trust, one of the trustee’s first tasks is to gather the information required to properly administer the trust and inventory the trust’s assets. This checklist makes it much easier to get everything needed. Continue reading

The Key Case Unlocks No Contest Clause Litigation

A recent appellate decision provides a novel rationale for litigating no contest clauses that could be considered unenforceable under current law. Continue reading

Does Destroying a Will Revoke It?

One of the ways to revoke a will is by mutilation or destruction. But is ripping up or burning a will sufficient to revoke it? By itself, no. Continue reading

Why You Shouldn’t Designate Cotrustees

When parents are considering whom to designate as successor trustee to administer their trust upon their death, they often consider making their adult children cotrustees. This may eliminate the parents’ stress of choosing among their children, but it often creates other stress for the children who are designated. It’s generally well-intentioned, but often a bad idea. Continue reading

Is a Wealth Tax Unconstitutional?

A wealth tax proposed by Senator Elizabeth Warren has found favor in certain academic circles, including the University of California, Berkeley. It would be 2 percent of worldwide assets of U.S. citizens and residents in excess of $50 million and 3 percent of assets in excess of $1 billion, in addition to existing income and transfer taxes. It’s claimed this wealth tax would raise an estimated $2.75 trillion in revenue over 10 years. But is it constitutional? Continue reading

Using Buy-Sell Agreements to Protect Family-Owned Businesses

Family-owned or controlled businesses make up roughly 90 percent of all American businesses. Unfortunately, only a third of family-owned businesses survive the transition from the first generation of owners to the second. A buy-sell agreement can ensure a successful transition by controlling how an interest in the business can be sold. Continue reading

Creating a Financial Power of Attorney

Sadly, preparing for your client’s potential incapacity is an integral part of estate planning. In doing so, one particularly useful tool is the financial power of attorney, which provides a trusted agent authority to transact business for your client. Here are a few basic requirements for creating this key document. Continue reading

Disinheriting? Give Them Something to Think About

It’s fairly common for an estate planner to meet with a client who wishes to cut one or more of his or her intestate heirs out of the estate plan. Like Miss Birdie in “The Rainmaker,” they look at you and say “cut, cut, cut!” But is leaving nothing to an intestate heir or previously included beneficiary really a good idea? Or, should you counsel your clients to give such folks something to think about? Continue reading

Preparing a Revocable Trust? Prepare for a Malpractice Claim, Too

Documents about Legal Malpractice in a court.Even highly competent attorneys who conscientiously meet their responsibilities may face the threat of malpractice. And this threat is very real for attorneys who prepare revocable trusts.    Continue reading

Preparing Deathbed Wills

When you have a client who is near death and wants you to prepare his or her will, you’ll have to act quickly. There won’t be time for a complete initial conference, careful tailoring of estate planning documents, and a methodical execution at your office. You’ll have to do only the essentials and in the shortest amount of time. These tips will help if you find yourself in this stressful situation. Continue reading