The SafeEstates Blog

July 3, 2019

Independance Day Reflections

This month we celebrate our nation’s birthday, July 4, 1776, at age 223. Independence Day reminds Americans we enjoy unique freedoms: speech, religion, guns, due process, trial by jury, and more. Our freedoms are often threatened but still in place. God bless America! Did you know Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and died on the same day, July 4th, 1826? The date was the Fiftieth Anniversary of the Declaration. The coincidence was described as a “visible and palpable” manifestation of “Divine favor” by the sitting President at the time, John Quincy Adams....

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June 15, 2019

Substantive Tip – Handwritten Wills

You may recall when Aretha Franklin died last August, her four sons believed she had no will. By law, in the absence of a will, the four sons would share equally in her very large estate. Recently, several handwritten (holographic) wills have been found in her home, upsetting the peaceful relations among the sons. Some of the wills were found in a locked cabinet; others were found under the sofa cushions. The most recent will, dated 2014, will be considered by the court at a hearing on June 17. If valid, the 2014 will changes the executor and changes each child’s share of the...

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June 1, 2019

Being Clear About Who’s The Boss

Singer-songwriter, musician and producer Tom Petty died in October 2017 thinking he had a good estate plan. He created a trust and named his widow, Dana York Petty, the trustee. The trust beneficiaries are Dana and Tom’s two daughters (Adria and Annakim) from a previous marriage. This seems like a clear and simple plan. However, the trust terms also say he wants Adria and Annakim to have “equal participation” in making decisions. Dana says she is the trustee and has final say on decisions; Adria and Annakim say majority rules. Dana wants the court to establish who is in charge; the daughters have sued for damages...

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May 3, 2019

Mama Needs A New Will!

This year Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 12. This is a great time to celebrate the mothers and grandmothers who know all about us and still love us. We remember the many ways they took care of us when we were young, their words of wisdom, their patience and devotion long after the day we buried them. My mother trusted me and even when I disappointed her she never gave up on me. Let me say a word to the families of elderly mothers. From time to time a concerned family member contacts us to schedule an appointment for their recently widowed mother to...

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February 1, 2019

Substantive Tip – Specific Bequests

When clients tell us how they want their assets distributed, they are clear about who they want to receive most of their wealth. They often want to leave smaller amounts to one or more individuals and charities. For example, a client may want most of their wealth to pass to their spouse and children (residuary bequest), but also may want to make smaller gifts to other family members, friends, their church, their alma mater or one or more other charitable organizations (specific bequests or general bequests). A specific bequest may involve a specific asset (for example, a lake house or business interest) but...

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January 11, 2019

Deliverance or Disinheritance?

To start the New Year on a positive note, here is a feel-good story with a happy ending. It involves a familiar celebrity, Burt Reynolds. You may remember Burt from his early TV days as a blacksmith on Gunsmoke in the early 1960s. Burt also starred in numerous movies, including Deliverance , Smoky and the Bandit , and The Longest Yard . He was married to actress Loni Anderson for several years but divorced in 1993. Burt and Loni adopted a son, Quentin Anderson Reynolds, in 1988. Quentin was Burt’s only child and “greatest accomplishment.” Burt died September 6, 2018 in Jupiter Beach, Florida. He was 82. The news media reported Burt disinherited Quentin, age 30. Burt’s...

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December 2, 2018

Let’s See That Marvel-ous Estate Plan

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee died November 10, 2018 in Los Angeles at age 95. His financial legacy for co-creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, Black Panther and other iconic characters is an estate valued at more than $50 million and an ongoing income stream from his past and pending creations. Hopefully you enjoyed his comic books and the movies they inspired. Marvel fans eagerly await the January 2019 return of comic series,Guardians of the Galaxy , which continues the plot from Infinity Wars’ Thanos Legacy . In the most recent episode, Eros cut a last will and testament out of Thanos’ dead...

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November 3, 2018

Substantive Tip: Review of Estate Plans Prepared in Other States

Watching the caravan of refugees on the nightly news, I am reminded of our freedom to move from state to state within our nation. Nashville continues to attract new residents from other states. We are often asked: “Do I need to replace my estate plan prepared when I lived in another state?” My answer: “Please bring it to me and I will review it with you. Everyone should review their estate plan every five years. If your circumstances have changed and your documents are more than 5 years old, you probably will decide to update your estate plan.” Although wills, trusts, powers of attorney and...

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October 15, 2018

Did You Know You Were Born With an Estate Plan?

You may not know it, but you were already born with an estate plan. It just might not be the right one for you, which is why you don't have to be a millionaire in order to need a will. All states have a framework that dictates how your cash and belongings ought to be distributed when you die. These are known as intestacy laws. Generally, under these laws your estate will pass to your closest living relative: your spouse, your kids, your parents and your siblings. These laws also state how assets are divided among your family members in...

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October 1, 2018

The Queen of Soul’s Legacy

Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, sold over 75 million records. She was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She had four sons by four different men. Rolling Stone observed “While Franklin’s formidable legacy and impact is certain, however, the fate of her estate might end up a more contentious matter.” Aretha Franklin reportedly left no will or trust when she died in August with a reported net worth of $89 million. Her four sons filed probate documents shortly after listing themselves as interested parties in her estate. One document reportedly filed with the Oakland County Probate Court in...

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