Colorado Probate Blog - Wade Ash Woods Hill & Farley, P.C.

Aretha Franklin's Funky Wills

In May, three hand-written wills were found hidden in Aretha Franklin’s Detroit area home. Her family and lawyers previously thought she had died intestate. Two hand-written wills dated 2010 were found in a locked cabinet and third hand-written will dated 2014 was found under a couch in Ms. Franklin’s living room. The wills are difficult to follow. (Click here for example.) All three documents have been offered for probate as valid holographic wills. There is some question whether they are valid under Michigan law.

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Swedish Death Cleaning

A common problem which many families encounter following the death of a parent or other relative is how to deal with the decedent’s personal property. In the absence of a legally effective personal property memorandum, will, or other governing document signed by the decedent specifying who gets what, the disposition of the personal property sometimes leads to bitter, protracted, and often times expensive controversies between the surviving spouse, children of the first or subsequent marriages, or other family members.

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467 Hits

Beneficiary Designations May be Dangerous to Your Estate Plan

Traditionally, the central document in an estate plan was a will or revocable trust. For many people, that continues to be true, but it is now possible to pass almost any kind of property outside the terms of your will. For example, this can be done by adding the beneficiary as a joint owner on a bank account, by naming the beneficiary as a “pay on death” (POD) or “transfer on death” (TOD) payee on a stock or securities account, or by signing a “beneficiary deed” that names a beneficiary to become the owner of real estate when you die. Colorado recently added automobiles to the list of assets that can pass by a TOD beneficiary designation. These arrangements, which I refer to generically as “beneficiary designations” can be useful, but they can also seriously disrupt a careful estate plan if they are done without care and appropriate advice.

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Is It Time to Update Your Estate Plan?

We recommend that our clients review their estate plan every few years to make sure that it remains current. Here is a list of “life events” and other things that should trigger a review of your estate plan.

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632 Hits

The Late Prince Rogers Nelson’s Intestacy Problem

That Prince died worth hundreds of millions of dollars without a Will is probably astounding to anyone who hears it. But it is not all that uncommon, even among the wealthy.

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734 Hits

Robin Williams Leaves Behind $50 Million Estate

According to a recent Trust Advisor article, the late Robin Williams left behind an estate valued at $50 Million to his three children, with his wife Susan Schneider cared for under the terms of a prenuptial ageement. According to Williams' legal documents, a financial trust was established for his children. As always, if you have questions about your own estate plan, feel free to contact us. For more information, go to Robin Williams.

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1274 Hits

U.S. Supreme Court Declines to Hear Same Sex Marriage Appeals

On Monday the U.S. Supreme Court let stand appeals court rulings from five states which legalize same sex marriage.  This clears the way for same sex marriages in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.  The Court gave no explanation for its decision not to hear those cases.  This non-action lets stand decisions from three federal appeals courts, which together have jurisdiction over additional states of Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.  This brings the number of states with legal same sex marriage to 30.  Colorado’s Attorney General, John Suthers, stated county clerks will now issue same sex marriage licenses in every county.  It is unknown what will happen to Colorado civil unions, and the state’s civil union statutes.  For some clients, the legalization of same sex marriage will impact tax related estate planning, and you should review your current estate plan if you believe this change will impact you. And if this change in Colorado’s law signals wedding bells, be sure to contact us to discuss whether preparation of a prenuptial agreement is right for you. For more information, see Denver Post.

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1425 Hits

Considering Charitable Giving

Josie M. Faix, Esq.

Co-creator of the long-running television show The Simpsons, Sam Simon, was diagnosed with terminal colorectal cancer in 2012. Mr. Simon has used his grim news as a catalyst to increase his own charitable giving, and to encourage others to do so. He started the Sam Simpson Foundation in 2002 to benefit and protect stray-dogs from being euthanized. Since then he has given to countless organizations that care for animals, people, and the environment. Realizing he has a short time left, he has spoken publicly about his desire to give his estate to charity and the good his fortune will do for the causes he cares about. To read an interview with Sam Simon about his charitable works, visit Sam Simon.

You don’t have to be dying or extremely wealthy to give more thought to your own charitable intent. There are tax-wise ways to give to your favorite causes and programs, including use of appreciated stock, retirement accounts, donor advised funds and private foundations. Give us a call to discuss charitable giving generally, and its coordination with your estate plan.

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1211 Hits