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So I'm driving into the office this morning listening to National Public Radio.
While surfing the web I found an article about a flamingo that recently passed away.
Q: My parents don't have wills. If I understand it correctly, that means that my brother and I will get half of the estate if one of them dies. If we don't want half of the estate, can't we refuse it and let it go to the surviving parent?
Q: I have an old will that I forgot all about. How do I revoke it?
Q: What is a Lady Bird Deed? Can it be used to transfer ownership of our second home in Michigan to our family outside of probate?
Q: I know you have said you don't like adding children as joint owners on bank accounts, but I can't remember why. It seems like adding a child on the account would be a good thing. Why don't you like it?
This past week marked the 28th anniversary of my mother's death. I attempted to make the traditional visit to her grave, but 3 feet of snow made it impossible to locate.
Q: My dad passed away and we don't know what to do with the car. Can we sell it on our own or do we need to open an estate?
Q: My will creates a trust for my children. Can I name the trust in the will beneficiary of my accounts and life insurance?
Q: My mother has a revocable trust and I am now the trustee. It looks like the house is in the trust but nothing else. Shouldn't she have put everything into the trust? How do I get the assets into the name of the trust now?
I don't know about you, but I'm a huge "Downton Abbey fan."
Q: How much can I gift this year? Does the amount go up in 2014?
Q: What happens if a family can't agree about funeral arrangements for a parent? Who gets final say?
Q: You said in a previous column most personal property owned by a married couple is jointly owned. How do you know for sure?
I've been following a tragic story involving a hunter in our home state. The hunter apparently fell out of his tree stand and severely hurt is back. While in the hospital, the family was told that the man would be paralyzed from the shoulders down and would likely never breath on his own aga…
As an attorney, I'm required to attend a certain number of continuing legal education seminars each year to stay in good standing with state bar. This year I attended the Notre Dame Tax and Estate Planning Institute. Two days of Wills and Thrills.
Q: My husband and I have been married more than 30 years but most of our property is in his name alone. I've tried to get him to add my name to the property or draw up a will, but he says it isn't necessary. He says I will get everything anyway, but I don't think that's true.
Q: My husband and I own all of our assets jointly. How do I leave something to my family if I die before him?
Q: Since life insurance proceeds payable to an estate are no longer subject to inheritance tax, is it OK if a person doesn't name a beneficiary on a policy so it goes to the estate?
"What do you mean I don't get it all? We were married".
Pull the plug. It's one those phrases that has made it into daily lexicon. Sometimes it's the punch line in a sitcom. Other times it's phrased as a question asked during an uncomfortable conversation with a parent. Sometimes it's a statement made to an attorney who is trying to help a client…
Q: What happens to the personal property when a spouse dies. Do the kids have any rights to it? Does the will control where it goes?
Q: My parents and I met with an attorney to discuss creating a trust. The attorney said even if they had a trust, they would still need wills. He tried to explain why the wills would need to be probated. If they have a trust why do they need wills? I thought the trust would eliminate probate.
Q: My mother has made changes to her will by writing on it and crossing things out. I told her that this will cause problems, but she refuses to pay an attorney to do it right. Will writing on the will invalidate it?
Q: Why would my accountant tell me that my inheritance would be subject to income tax? I thought it was only subject to inheritance tax.
Q: My parents own a farm and they want to start gifting it to my siblings and I. What is the best way for them to do that?
I recently received a message from a client. The message indicated he received a letter from the Indiana Records Department about the transfer on death (TOD) deed I prepared and recorded.
Q: What can a beneficiary do if a trustee isn’t following the trust? How can he force the trustee to do what he is supposed to do?
Q: If a person who has a revocable trust of his own and also is the ongoing beneficiary of another irrevocable trust dies, can the irrevocable trust distribute the money to his revocable trust rather than directly to his children?
This past Sunday, my family and I went to the U.S. Steel Yard and watched the RailCats play from one of the outfield party decks. As we sat with friends watching the game, Logan, one of my 11-year-old twins, watched the game from the grassy area at the outfield wall hoping to catch a home run.
Q: Can I amend my father’s trust using the power of attorney that he gave me? If not, is there any other way to amend the trust?
Q: My dad died several years ago. At the time, my mother didn't do anything to remove my father's name from anything. His name is still on the house, the car and several bank accounts. Mom is getting up there in age, and I think we should take care of this before she gets any older. What nee…
Q: What happens if a child is born after executing a will? Is the new child included?
Q: I set up a trust about 10 years ago. Since then, I have spent down my estate and am unsure whether I should keep the trust for the limited assets I have remaining. My question is should I keep my trust and if so, why? How do I revoke it? Can my heirs just ignore it?
Q: My partner and I have been living together for almost 10 years. Is there anything special that we need to add to our wills?
Q: What happens if a person named in a will dies before the person making the will does? How is it determined who gets his or her share?
Q: I intend to leave all of my money to two charities but I'm concerned that my children will object. I'm worried they will challenge the will. Is there anything I can do to make sure that my wishes are carried out? Should I name someone other than a child executor?
Q: In researching claims, it appears that there are two statutes of limitations that could apply. One is three months and the other is nine months. How do you know which statute of limitations applies?
Q: Can I use a power of attorney to appoint different children to do different things? Does my daughter, who is on my checking account, also have authority over my IRA or can I name another child to take care of that? What about medical decisions?
Q: We have three children all of whom are married. One of our son's wives is nice, but we aren't sure that we trust her. How do we make sure she stays out of our estate plan? Is there anything we can do to make sure she doesn't inherit our property?
Last week I wrote about the importance of planning for your digital assets. If you read last week's column, you know that I feel this area of estate planning is going to become more and more important in the future. As we expand our online identities, planning for it is going to become inevitable.
I recently received an email from a reader regarding estate planning in a digital age. The reader had seen a news program on planning for digital assets and thought that it was something that I might be interested in. He was right.
Time to catch up on some of the questions that readers have sent in.
Q: My father passed away without a will. However, a few months before he died, he told us what he wanted everyone to get. Unfortunately, he never wrote it down. Is the fact that he told several of us what he wanted enough to carry out his instructions? I know the statements wouldn't revoke a…
Q: I don't have any family members that live close by. How can I find someone to serve as executor? Can the attorney act as executor?
Q: What is the best way to keep my family from fighting over my will? Should I put something to my will that disinherits any family member who causes problems? Should I just leave everything to one person and let him distribute everything?
Q: I have a will that leaves everything to my husband and then to my children. Are my two stepchildren included in the will or do I need to amend it? Will it make a difference if I adopt my stepchildren?
Q: What is the best way to leave my home to my children?
Q: I have a living trust that I want to change. Do I need an attorney to draw up a new trust or can I copy the trust and make the changes that I want and have it notarized?
Q: My grandson and his wife have had their first child. To make sure that they get a will, I have offered to pay for it. Are there any other estate planning documents that new parents should have?
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