Probate, Estate Planning and Trust Law
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June 2013 Archives

Check your beneficiary designations as part of your estate planning

Earlier this month, a U.S. Supreme Court ruling demonstrated the importance of including beneficiary designations as a vital part of estate planning. The case involved a dispute between a current and former spouse over the proceeds of a deceased federal employee’s FEGLIA (Federal Employee’s Group Life Insurance Act of 1954).

Life insurance can be part of estate planning, but get legal help

When you go in to get your estate plan in place, there are several documents you expect to walk away with. Wills are of course the old stand by, and you will also likely execute a financial power of attorney and a medical power of attorney. Trusts are also commonly used. While all these can be extremely important, there are also other considerations that can play a role in a comprehensive estate plan.

Consider carefully before accepting appointment as executor or trustee

Most people like to feel important and receive some kind of recognition of their importance from family, at some level. Within families, there are various ways this recognition cane come: a request to be a best man or maid/matron of honor; a guardian; a godparent; a caregiver for an aging parent; and so on. Within the estate planning world, this recognition can come with being asked to serve as an executor of an estate or as the trustee of a trust.

Celebrity estate planning mistakes inform the rest of us

While many examples of failures in celebrity estate planning, we'd like to take a look a just a handful here. One example involves the estate of Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million in trust for her dog, Trouble. Planning for a pet is not a bad idea, actually, but in her case there was question as to why so much was left to her dog while she left nothing to two grandchildren. This raised the question of the soundness of her mind, and a judge ultimately ended up reducing the trust fund to $2 million. The disinherited grandchildren received a $6 million settlement.