Celebrities are not the only ones to make mistakes with their estate planning. It happens to people all across the country on a regular basis. The end result — just like with the rich and famous — often is an ugly and expensive family fight in court. One of the most common estate planning mistakes that people make is joint ownership.
For the most part, we’re not talking about when a husband and wife have joint bank accounts or the title to their home is held in both of their names. While not ideal for estate planning, this is quite common and can often be used without problems, except in many second-marriage situations or large estates that may suffer adverse tax consequences.
The area where we see significant problems, however, is when a parent adds a child’s name to an asset, such as a bank account, investment, or real estate. This is often done to help with bill paying, as a will-substitute to avoid probate court (often called a “poor-man’s Read more...
William Davidson and Melvin Simon had a lot in common. Both were billionaires and both were Jewish. Simon built his fortune through the country’s biggest shopping mall company, Simon Property Group, and Forbes estimated his net worth at $1.3 billion. Davidson led Guardian Industries Corp., one of the world’s largest glass suppliers, and had a fortune recently tabbed at $4.5 billion.
They also each owned NBA franchises in the midwest. Davidson owned the Detroit Pistons (yeah!), while Simon co-owned the rival Indiana Pacers (boo!) with his brother, Herbert Simon.
Both men died last year, with Davidson passing away at age 86 in March and Simon passing in October, at age 82. And both were survived by spouses as well as children from prior marriages.
And, in both instances, the spouse and the children from the prior marriage did not see eye to eye. Because of that, both the Davidson Estate and Simon Estate are mired in lawsuits about the true wishes of the beloved billionaires.
In Davidson’s case, there are Read more...
Danielle Mayoras was recently quoted in this interesting article by the Detroit Free Press about the growing epidemic of exploitation of the elderly. It discussed a very sad case where a daughter took hundreds of thousands of dollars from her elderly mother and now is in jail saying the money is gone and she can’t return it.
This is one example of how more and more families are facing the devastation caused by exploitation of elderly loved ones, often by a family member or caregiver.
So how do families protect their golden seniors, whose lifetime of savings can often be a tempting target for desperate or unethical people? There are no magic answers, but here are a few Trial & Heirs Tips that we provided to the Detroit Free Press which ran next to the newspaper story:
1. Get expert advice. Consider consulting an estate lawyer who will know the ins and outs of estate planning. It’s usually money well spent.
2. Beware of Joint Accounts. When you add Read more...
It’s been seven months since the King of Pop died suddenly at the age of 50, and fights surrounding his estate seem like they may last for many years to come. Creditors are coming out of the woodwork, with new ones surfacing on a weekly basis. The latest, a management company, joins a series of business, medical and spiritual advisers and others who insist they are owed money, totaling more than $20 million, already. That total will certainly climb.
The estate co-executors, John Branca and John McClain, have to sort through the requests for money and try to determine the legitimate ones from the ones that are, well, more fiction than fact. It’s common when someone wealthy and eccentric passes to have all sorts of people saying they are entitled to money. (Jerry Garcia, James Brown, and Marlon Brando are a few notable examples that we cover in Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!).
One of the more interesting requests is from Michael’s father, Joe Jackson, who wants $15,000 Read more...
Who got the money? Who had the biggest family feuds? The mistakes that were made — and what we can learn from them. Two legal experts in estate planning and the authors of Trial & Heirs have the scoop.
If the recent and sudden death of Michael Jackson taught us something – other than the side effects of too much prescription medication – it’s the importance of a will or trust. Wills and trusts are taboo topics. We’re usually far more inclined to talk about Botox injections or mammograms than how we plan to divide our assets. But (and sorry for speaking so morbidly) once you’re dead, it’ll be far too late to finally address it. That’s why regardless of your age and health (Jackson was 50 and about to go on tour), it’s important to have a proper will — not just for your peace of mind, but for your family’s peace of mind too.
In addition to the King of Pop’s highly publicized estate battles, here’s a glimpse Read more...
Anyone who’s ever been through a court battle over a trust or estate knows how important it is for everyone involved. But some cases carry more importance than others. The recently-resolved case of Cobell vs. Salazar has as much importance to our nation as any trust fight has ever had.
Elouise Cobell is the lead plaintiff in a class action suit against The United States Secretary of the Interior. The lawsuit involves the rights of Native Americans under Individual Indian trusts that began under laws passed in 1887. At that time, tribal lands of Native Americans were parceled out by the government and assigned to individuals, in lots between 40 and 160 acres in size.
But the individual Native Americans weren’t allowed to actually own the land. The government did, leasing the lands for mineral and grazing rights, among other uses, and paying the proceedings into a series of informal trusts. The United States Secretary of the Interior was charged with administering the trusts for the benefit of the individuals Read more...