Dec 22

Lack of a Will Could Mean Chaos for Prince’s Estate

swns_prince_guitar_04The famed recording artist Prince died leaving an unknown fortune and possibly no will
or estate plan to dictate what to do with that fortune. Prince’s sister, Tyka Nelson, told
the probate court in the Minnesota county where Prince lived that her brother did not
have a will, which means his estate could be in court for years and exhaust millions of
dollars in court fees and unnecessary taxes. Ms. Nelson filed an emergency order for
the appointment of a special administrator to protect Prince’s assets, even as those
assets are swelling.

Prince owned several properties at his death as well as the rights to hundreds of songs;
estimates put his estate’s value at between $100 million and $300 million. It is possible
a will may still be found, but under state law, if there is no estate plan in place, Prince’s
six siblings – one sister and five half-siblings — will share his estate. In Minnesota, halfsiblings
and full siblings are treated equally when it comes to inheritance.
Ironically for someone who was known for his privacy, dying intestate — without a will —
also means that Prince’s estate will be open to public scrutiny. In addition, if everything
passes through probate, his estate will likely face a large estate tax bill that might have
been at least partially avoided.

Moreover, Prince’s estate may not be distributed as he may have wished. For example,
Prince was a devout Jehovah’s Witness. If he wanted to leave anything to the church or
to another charity, those distributions will not be made without a written estate plan. In
the absence of clear instructions, there are likely to be lawsuits over the distribution
and administration of his estate. Prince also left a number of unreleased songs that he
may not have wanted made public, but without other guidance, those songs along with
his entire music catalog will now be under the control of the estate administrator.
You don’t have to be worth millions to learn a lesson from Prince’s apparent mistake.
The only way to ensure that your assets get distributed the way you want is to create an
estate plan. Not having an estate plan can similarly cost your heirs time and money in
unwanted court battles and fees. Contact your attorney to make sure your estate plan
is in place and up to date.

“Prince was a major star and a cultural influence, but he was a human being,” Kenneth
J. Abdo, an entertainment lawyer in Minneapolis, told the New York Times. “It comes
down to taking care of business. If you don’t take care of it, you’re leaving a mess to the
family or the courts.”

Dec 05

May Someone With Dementia Sign a Will?

Millions of people are affected by dementia, and unfortunately many of them do not have all their estate planning affairs in order before the symptoms start. If you or a loved one has dementia, it may not be too late to sign a will or other documents, but certain criteria must be met to ensure that the signer is mentally competent.Young nurse and female senior in nursing home, measurements are

In order for a will to be valid, the person signing must have “testamentary capacity,” which means he or she must understand the implications of what is being signed. Simply because you have a form of mental illness or disease does not mean that you automatically lack the required mental capacity. As long as you have periods of lucidity, you may still be competent to sign a will.

Generally, you are considered mentally competent to sign a will if the following criteria are met:

  • You understand the nature and extent of your property, which means you know what you own and how much of it.
  • You remember and understand who your relatives and descendants are and are able to articulate who should inherit your property.
  • You understand what a will is and how it disposes of property.
  • You understand how all these things relate to each other and come together to form a plan.

Family members may contest the will if they are unhappy with the distributions and believe you lacked mental capacity to sign it. If a will is found to be invalid, a prior will may be reinstated or the estate may pass through the state’s intestacy laws (as if no will existed). To prevent a will contest, your attorney should help make it as clear as possible that the person signing the will is competent. The attorney may have a series of questions to ask you to assess your competency. In addition, the attorney can have the will signing videotaped or arrange for witnesses to speak to your competency.

Mar 21

Medicaid for Millionaires?

protecting-assets-avs-lawMedicaid for Millionaires?

Can a millionaire qualify for nursing home Medicaid? Part of the practice of Medicaid planning is to position a client in such a way that the client will financially qualify for Medicaid. At first blush, a client with a large net worth would not meet the financial criteria for Medicaid. But can the client make changes in their financial position in order to qualify for Medicaid? Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 10

Advanced Age Marriage- Prenups are not just for divorce

 

sprancmanis-elder-law-marriage
Paul L Dineen / Foter / CC BY

Marriage Later in Life

Anytime two people get remarried and there are children from a previous marriage there needs to be consideration of how your estate plan will function with your children and your new spouse.  Your estate and assets were built over time with a previous spouse, or on your own with the intention of your estate going to your own children, and that is probably likewise true with the new spouse and what they have built on their side. Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 03

What will happen to my special needs child when I can no longer care for them?

Special Needs Trust

sprancmanis-special-needs-trust
mikel450 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

A special needs trust is a discretionary trust with the purpose of caring for and enhancing the lifestyle of a special needs person when you pass away or are no longer able to care for them. Read the rest of this entry »

May 21

Record keeping and Medicaid Applications in NY

elderly-nursing-home-application

Billy Wilson via Compfight

Joann was a good daughter.  She did what any good daughter would do:  when mom became ill, she sacrificed her own life and well being to take care of mom.  She left full time employment and took a part time job, so she could be with mom to help her take care of her medical and daily needs, something that became a full time job.  Between the two of them, they Read the rest of this entry »