Why Would I Need to Revise My Will?

OK, great!! You’ve created your will! Now you can it stow away and check off a very important item on your to-do list, right? Well, not entirely.

Thrive Global’s recent article, “7 Reasons Why You Need to Review your Will Right Now,” says it’s extremely important that you regularly update your will (and other documents, such as a revocable living trust) to avoid any potential confusion and extra stress for your family at a very emotional time. As circumstances change, you need to have your will reflect changes in your life. As time passes and your situation changes, your will may become invalid, obsolete or even create added confusion when the time comes for your will to be administered.

New people in your life. We all know life changes. If you have more children after you’ve created your will, review your estate plan to make certain that the wording is still correct. You may also marry or re-marry, or you may have grandchildren that you now want to include. Make a formal update to your estate plan to include the new people who play an important part in your life and to remove those with whom you lose touch.

A beneficiary or other person dies. If a person you had designated as a beneficiary or executor of your will has died and there is no backup, you must make a change or it could result in confusion when the time comes for your estate to be distributed. You should update your will if an individual named in your estate plan passes away before you.

Divorce. If your will was created prior to a divorce, you will probably want to remove your ex from your estate plan. If you have minor children with your ex, you may also want to change your distribution and nominate a guardian of the estate to take care of any money you want to pass to your children. Talk to an estate planning attorney about the changes you need to make.

Your spouse dies. Even though wills should be written in such a way as to always have a backup plan in place, that’s not what always happens. For example, if your husband or wife dies before you, their portion of your estate might go to another family member or another named individual. If this happens, you may want to redistribute your assets to other people.

A child becomes an adult. When a child turns 18 and comes of age, she is no longer a dependent.  Your documents might have included provisions for dependents that now no longer apply to your children, but you would like to still help them out if you were to die. Therefore, you may need to update your will in any areas that provided additional funds for any dependents.

You experience a change in your financial situation. This is a great opportunity to update your will to protect your new financial situation. If you now have more than the minimum amount needed for probate, you may also want to create a trust to avoid probate. In California, if a person has more than $150,000 in their estate when they die (including the value of any houses), they will have to go through probate. Create a trust and change your will to a pour-over will to save your loved ones the trouble of going to court.

You change your mind. It’s your will, and you can change your mind whenever you like.

Reference: Thrive Global (June 17, 2019) “7 Reasons Why You Need to Review your Will Right Now”

What Do I Need to Do Financially, When We Have a Baby?

In addition to all the logistics involved with a new baby, new parents should also take care of financial and legal matters in the months leading up to the big day.

U.S. News & World Report’s recent article, “Financial Steps to Take When You’re Pregnant” reminds us that pregnancy is a terrific time to review your financial life. It’s a great time to assess your budget, emergency savings, estate planning documents, and insurance needs to see if anything needs to be refreshed.

Here are a few things to do to prepare for a new baby:

Employee Benefits. Take a look at your employee benefits or have a conversation with HR to determine how much time you can take off and whether you’ll be paid your salary while on parental leave. This is important because many families are faced with higher living costs by the presence of a new baby, which is often combined with taking parental leave that may cut their take-home pay. New parents may have to use the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which offers eligible employees 12 weeks of unpaid leave, or tap into short-term disability insurance, which typically only replaces a portion of your salary. The amount you receive in short-term disability will also be impacted by whether you pay premiums with pre-tax or post-tax dollars. If you pay with pretax, your benefit will be subject to taxes, which will decrease the overall amount received.

While reviewing these policies, look at your health insurance and see what kind of prenatal visits and pediatric care are covered. You should also look at the terms of your health insurance policy since you could be liable for health insurance premiums during periods where you are taking leave from work. Also, remember that you’ll need to add your baby to your medical insurance within 30 days of the birth.

Budget. Create a new budget that takes into account changes in your income from taking leave and new expenses from having a new baby. You may have to survive several weeks without your normal level of income, so be sure that you have enough saved up to get through that period. After that, create another budget that considers more long-term expenses associated with the new one, such as the cost of childcare, diapers, and formula, all of which can add up.

Life Insurance. Determine if your current life insurance will meet your needs. If you need more, look at term life insurance. It’s usually affordable and expires after a set term, typically anywhere from 10 to 30 years. This policy payout would help a surviving parent or guardian care for your child.

Estate Planning. Consider who would care for your child if both parents were to die before they turn 18. Talk to family or close friends about who you’d like as the guardian of the child. Talk to an estate planning attorney to update (or create) a will and guardianship choices. In addition, ask about formulating a plan for how inheritance, insurance, and other assets will be handled and disbursed if you die while the child is a minor. A revocable living trust can be one way to direct a future inheritance. You can designate your child as the beneficiary and a relative or close friend as the trustee. The trustee will help decide how the money is spent. This trust is usually included in the will and activates after the death of the person who created it.

Beneficiary Designations. Update any beneficiary designations on your retirement and insurance accounts to include your child, but make sure and ask about meeting requirements for how minors can own property.

529 College Savings Account. You should also look into funding a 529 college savings account but don’t feel pressure to contribute a lot. Making certain that your budget, estate, and insurance needs are tailored to meet your new family dynamic are more pressing concerns.

Reference: U.S. News & World Report (August 29, 2019) “Financial Steps to Take When You’re Pregnant”

Leaving a Legacy Is Not Just about Money

A legacy is not necessarily about money, says a survey that was conducted by Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Ave Wave. The study surveyed more than 3,000 adults, with 2600 of them being 50 or older. The study also incorporated focus groups where participants were asked about end-of-life planning and leaving a legacy. The article, “How to leave a legacy no matter how much money you have” from The Voice, shared a number of the participant’s responses.

A total of 94% of those surveyed said that a life well-lived is about “having friends and family that love me.” 75% said that a life well-lived is about having a positive impact on society. A mere 10% said that a life well-lived is about accumulating a lot of wealth.

The study highlights that people want to be remembered for how they lived, not what they did at work or how much money they saved. Nearly 70% said they most wanted to be remembered for the memories they shared with loved ones. And only 9% said career success was something they wanted to be remembered for.

While everyone needs to have their affairs in order, especially people over age 55, only 55% of those surveyed reported having a will. Only 18% have what are considered the three key essentials for legacy planning: a will, a health care directive and a durable power of attorney.

The will addresses how property is to be distributed, names an executor of the estate and, if there are minor children, names who should be their guardian. The health care directive gives specific directions as to end-of-life preferences and designates someone to make health care decisions for you if you can’t. A power of attorney designates someone to make financial decisions on your behalf when you can’t do so because of illness or incapacity.

An estate plan is often only considered when a triggering event occurs, like a loved one dying without an estate plan. This is often a wake-up call for the family once they see how difficult it is when there is no estate plan.

Parents aged 55 and older had interesting views on leaving inheritances and who should receive their estate. Only about a third of boomers surveyed and 44% of Gen Xers said that it’s a parent’s duty to leave some kind of inheritance to their children. A higher percentage of millennials surveyed—55%—said that this was a duty of parents to their children.

The biggest surprise of the survey: 65% of people 55 and older reported that they would prefer to give away some of their money while they are still alive. A mere 8% wanted to give away all their assets, before they died. Only 27% wanted to give away all their money after they died.

Reference: The Voice (June 16, 2019) “How to leave a legacy no matter how much money you have”

How Does a Probate Proceeding Work?

Many people have heard of “probate,” but there are a lot of misconceptions floating out there about it. First and foremost, many people believe they can avoid going to court and going through probate if they have a Will.

In reality, a Will, also known as Last Will and Testament, is the legal document that is to be used in probate court if a person dies with assets that are in their name alone without a surviving joint owner or beneficiary designated, says the Record Online in the article “Anatomy of a probate proceeding.” The probate process proves the will is valid.

Probate is a judicial or court proceeding where the probate court has jurisdiction over the assets of the person who has died. The court oversees the payment of debts, taxes and probate fees, in addition to supervising the distribution of assets to the person’s beneficiaries. The executor of the will is the person responsible for managing the probate assets and then reporting the activities to the judge.

Without a will, things can get messy. A similar court proceeding takes place, but it is known as an administrative proceeding, and the manager of the estate is called an administrator, and not the executor.

To start the probate proceeding, the executor completes and submits a probate petition with the probate court. Some executors do this on their own, but most hire an estate planning attorney to help. The attorney knows the process, which keeps things moving along.

The probate petition lists the beneficiaries named in the will, plus certain relatives who must, by law, receive legal notice in the mail. Let’s say that someone disinherits a child in their will. That child must receive notice to learn he or she has been disinherited. Beneficiaries and relatives alike must return paperwork to the court stating that they either consent or object to the provisions of the will.

A disinherited child has the right to file objections with the court, and then begin a battle for inheritance that is known as a will contest. This can become protracted and expensive, drawing out the probate process for years. A will contest places all of the assets in the will in limbo. They cannot be distributed unless the court says they can, which may not occur until the will contest is completed.

The will contest can be resolved in two ways: with a settlement between the parties involved, or with a jury trial. It is always possible that the disinherited person could prevail and be awarded a certain amount of the inheritance, regardless of what the decedent said in their will.

In addition to the expense and time that probate takes, while the process is going on, assets are frozen. After the court is satisfied with who the executor should be, the judge will issue “Letters Testamentary”. Only then can the executor start doing anything with the property. They must open an estate account, apply for a taxpayer ID for the account, collect the assets and ultimately, distribute them, as directed in the will to the beneficiaries. Keep in mind, however, that distribution cannot happen until the court gives the all-clear.

Can a will contest or probate be avoided? Avoiding probate, or having selected assets taken out of the probate estate, is one reason that people use trusts as part of their estate plan. Assets can also be placed in joint ownership, and beneficiaries can be added to accounts so that the asset goes directly to the beneficiary.

By working closely with an estate planning attorney, you’ll have the opportunity to prepare an estate plan that addresses how you want assets to be distributed, which assets may be placed outside of your estate for an easier transfer to beneficiaries and what you can do to avoid a will contest, if there is a disinheritance situation looming.

Reference: Record Online (August 24, 2019) “Anatomy of a probate proceeding”

Where Should I Keep My Estate Plan?

Many people ask their attorney to hold the original documents of their estate plan. This prevents the plan from being misplaced at home and keeps it away from prying family members.

Forbes’ recent article, “Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents Safe,” explains that because of the expense of storage and the move to paperless offices, some estate planning attorneys are now having their clients hold the original documents.

This saves money for the attorney, but it leaves the client with the problem of where to put the originals.

If you need a safe and secure place for them, here are some options.

No safe deposit boxes. Avoid placing the original documents in a safe deposit box, because the authority to get into the box is inside the box! If you pass away or are incapacitated—and nobody has access to the safe deposit box—they’ll need a court order to get access. For them to get the court order, they need the documents inside the box. It’s like the chicken and the egg.

Get a fireproof safe. A fireproof safe is a great place to keep these important documents.

Make copies. Get a set of hard copies in another location that is easily accessible. You can now use the safe deposit box to hold a set of copies of your documents. Your attorney should also have a set of hard copies.

E-records. Your estate planning attorney should also have an electronic copy of your estate plan and should send you an electronic version of the documents to keep with your e-records.

Treat your copies like the originals, and don’t lose it, in case the originals are misplaced or destroyed. If the original documents somehow vanish, your family may still be able to use a set of copies. For instance, a photocopy of a will can be probated, once the executor has attested that she has made a diligent search to find the original which hasn’t turned up.

Remember that this isn’t a “one and done” task. You should review your documents every few years to make certain the people you’ve named in them are still alive and your intentions haven’t changed.

Reference: Forbes (August 16, 2019) “Keeping Your Estate Planning Documents Safe”

What is the Latest With the Fight Over John Steinbeck’s Estate?

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will be in Anchorage, Alaska to hear arguments in an appeal by the estate of Steinbeck’s late son Thomas over a 2017 jury verdict that took place in California. There, a federal jury awarded the author’s stepdaughter Waverly Scott Kaffaga $13 million. She claimed that Steinbeck’s son and daughter-in-law, Gail Steinbeck, hampered motion picture adaptations of his iconic works. A jury in Los Angeles was asked to decide if Thomas and Gail Steinbeck interfered with deals and should pay. Kaffaga sued her stepbrother, his widow, Gail, and their company.

AP News published a story last week, “Judges to hear appeal in lawsuit over John Steinbeck works,” reporting that Attorney Matthew Dowd, who represents the Thomas Steinbeck estate, said part of the appeal claims that the 1983 agreement was in violation of a 1976 change to copyright law that gave artists or their blood relatives the right to terminate copyright deals. The appeal also disputes the jury award, maintaining it was not supported by “substantial evidence.”

Kaffaga, who is the executor for the estate of her mother, Elaine Steinbeck, the author’s widow and third wife, had alleged that long-running litigation over the author’s estate kept her from making the most of his work, when big names like Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lawrence wanted to bring the classics, “The Grapes of Wrath” and “East of Eden,” back to the screen. Kaffaga said the movie deals instead fell apart over the years.

Kaffaga claimed that Thomas secretly signed a $650,000 deal with DreamWorks to be an executive producer on a remake of “The Grapes of Wrath,” that originally starred Henry Fonda and won two Oscars. She also said that Gail learned of projects that Kaffaga was involved in and threatened moviemakers, arguing she and her husband possessed the legal rights to the novels. Attorney Dowd said Thomas, who died in 2016, conveyed his intention to exercise those rights, prompting Kaffaga to claim a contract breach. He said Thomas was within his right to do so under the 1976 “termination rights” clause.

In the same action, a judge ruled the couple breached a contract between Kaffaga’s late mother, Thomas Steinbeck, and his late brother, John Steinbeck IV. The brothers’ mother was the author’s second wife, Gwyndolyn Conger.

“We would like the court to rule that the 1983 Agreement violates the statute and, therefore, cannot prevent the heirs from exercising their termination rights,” Dowd said. “Relatedly, we are asking for a new trial and that the damages awards be vacated because they are too speculative and there is no legal basis for awarding punitive damages under California law.”

Kaffaga’s attorney, Susan Kohlmann, argues on appeal that several courts have already upheld the contract as legally binding. The agreement, which resolved earlier litigation, gives Elaine’s estate the “exclusive power and authority to control the exploitation and termination” of some of Steinbeck’s works, in exchange for the sons getting a greater piece of domestic royalties.

Even so, the attorney wrote that “Appellants again seek to hijack this lawsuit and use it as a mechanism to relitigate the issue of the validity of the 1983 agreement, by arguing that it is an ‘agreement to the contrary’ under the Copyright Act.”

“The District Court properly excluded such argument, evidence, and testimony that sought to undermine the holdings of multiple courts confirming the validity of the 1983 agreement,” they argued.

The lawsuit comes after decades of fighting and litigation between Thomas and Kaffaga’s mother over control of the author’s works. Thomas lost most of the court battles, including a lawsuit he and the daughter of his late brother, John Steinbeck IV, brought that made Kaffaga countersue in the case being appealed.

Reference: AP News (August 5, 2019) “Judges to hear appeal in lawsuit over John Steinbeck works”

Filing Taxes for a Deceased Family Member

If you are the executor of a loved one’s estate, and if they were well-off, there are several tax issues that you’ll need to deal with. The article “How to file a loved one’s taxes after they’ve passed away” from Market Watch gives a general overview of estate tax liabilities.

Winding down the financial aspects of the estate is one of the tasks done by the trustee or executor. That person will most likely be identified in the decedent’s trust or will. If the family trust holds the assets on behalf of the deceased, the trust document will name a trustee. If the person died without a will or trust, also known as “intestate,” the probate court will appoint an administrator.

The executor is responsible for filing the federal income tax for the decedent’s estate in cases where a return needs to be filed. Income generated by the estate, even after the death of your loved one, is subject to income tax. The estate’s first federal income tax year starts immediately after the date of death. The tax year-end date can be December 31 or the end of any other month that results in a tax year of 12 months or less. The IRS form 1041 is used for estates and trusts and the due date is the 15th day of the fourth month, after the fiscal tax year-end.

For example, if a person died in 2019 and the trustee chooses December 31, 2019 date as the tax year-end, the estate tax return deadline is April 15, 2020. An extension is available, but it’s only for five and a half months. In this example, an extension could be granted for September 30.

There is no need to file a Form 1041 if all of the decedent’s income producing assets are directly distributed to the spouse or other heirs and bypass probate or trust administration. This is the case when property is owned as joint tenants with right of survivorship, as well as with IRAs and retirement plan accounts and life insurance proceeds with designated beneficiaries.

The trustee also needs to keep in mind transfer tax issues, such as the estate tax and the gift tax. For recent years, this is not as much of a concern because no federal estate tax will be due unless the estate is valued at more than $11.2 million for a person who passed in 2018 or $11.4 million in 2019.

However, the trustee also needs to find out if there were large gifts given. That means gifts larger than $15,000 in 2018-2019 to a single person, $14,000 for gifts in 2013-2017; $13,000 in 2009-2012, $12,000 for 2006-2008; $11,000 for 2002-2005 and $10,000 for 2001 and earlier. If these gifts were made, the excess over the applicable threshold for the year of the gift must be added back to the estate, to see if the federal estate tax exemption has been surpassed. Check with the estate attorney to ensure that this is handled correctly.

Whether or not a person died leaving property to a spouse also impacts whether or not tax will be due. The unlimited marital deduction privilege permits any amount of assets to be passed to the spouse, as long as the decedent was married, and the surviving spouse is a U.S. citizen. However, the surviving spouse will need good estate planning to pass the family’s wealth to the next generation without a large tax liability.

While the tax consequences and tax planning strategies are more complex where significant assets are involved, an estate planning attorney can strategically plan to protect family assets, when the assets are not so grand. In fact, estate planning is more important for those with modest assets, as there is a greater need to protect the family and less room for error.

Reference: Market Watch (June 17, 2019) “How to file a loved one’s taxes after they’ve passed away”

What Do I Need to Know Before Becoming an Executor?

When a loved one dies, those who are in charge of taking care of the estate frequently enter an unfamiliar world with unfamiliar technical terms. One of these may be the word “executor.” An executor steps in for the person who wrote the will and makes sure that all the final arrangements are carried out.

When you agree to be named the executor or personal representative of an estate, it’s a big decision. It is far more significant than most people realize. There are many responsibilities to think about before agreeing to take on the role. Investopedia’s recent article, “5 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Estate Executor” lists five things to consider before saying yes.

  1. Complexity of the Estate. Typically, the larger the estate—which can be in terms of property, possessions, assets, or the number of beneficiaries—the harder and more time consuming it will be. The best way to see how difficult the job will be is to request to see a copy of the current will. If there are obvious red flags, like unequal distributions to children or trusts or annuities, it may be best to say no.
  2. Time Commitment. This job takes a substantial amount of time and energy, and also requires a lot of attention to detail. Truth be told, almost all of it has to do with the details. Before you agree to execute a will, you should be sure that you have the time to do the job. It’s also important to review your decision to serve as an executor every time your situation changes, like when you get married, have children or change locations. It’s not unusual for a testator to change executors throughout a lifetime.
  3. Immediate Responsibilities. You may agree to be an executor, thinking that it’ll be years before you have to do any work. However, that’s not always the case. You should be sure the testator is keeping a list of assets and debts and knows where the original will and the asset list are being held and how to access them. You should also have a list of the contact information for attorneys or agents named by the testator. You can also discuss the testator’s wishes for a funeral or memorial service, including instructions for burial or cremation. Although this conversation may be uncomfortable, it will make your role as executor much smoother, and will also ensure that the testator’s wishes are being fulfilled.
  4. Duties After the Testator Dies. This is when the executor must make funeral arrangements, locate the will, initiate probate, manage assets, pay all debts, submit tax returns and more. This can be a snap if you’re organized and detail-oriented. If everything is disorganized, however, it can take much longer and require a bigger effort on your part to corral all the information needed.
  5. How You’ll Be Paid. Each state has laws on how an executor is paid. An executor is also entitled to be compensated for expenses incurred, as they carry out their responsibilities. Executors can also refuse compensation, which is common if you’re doing this for a member of your family.

It’s an honor to be asked to be an executor. It means the testator trusts you to carry out their final wishes and to see to their legacy. However, be sure that you’re up to the task.

Reference: Investopedia (June 25, 2019) “5 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Estate Executor”

What are the “Must Have” Estate Planning Documents?

What do Aretha Franklin, Kurt Cobain, and Prince have in common? Aside from being famous and talented, each of these stars passed away without an estate plan. All three had the money and attorneys to draft a proper estate plan, but for whatever reason, they didn’t draft one. It’s a good lesson to not neglect your estate plan.

Motley Fool reports in the article, “3 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents To Get Done This Year,” that dying without an estate plan creates numerous problems for your family. If there are no legal instructions in place, probate law automatically dictates the distribution of your assets and selection of guardians for your minor children, which can cause problems or be contrary to your wishes. Regardless of your personal situation, you should think about creating these three important estate planning documents:

Trust. A trust is used to distribute your estate according to your instructions with more privacy, fewer costs, and less time than using just a will. A trust can say how much and what type of asset each heir will receive, to minimize family fighting after your death. If you have young children, you can designate guardians in your trust who will be in charge of their care and take care of any assets left to them. If you die without a trust, the probate judge will order who becomes their guardian and takes care of their money.

You also need a trust to make charitable bequests, to expedite the probate court process and to reduce or eliminate estate taxes. When you draft your trust, you’ll appoint trusted people to serve as the executor and the trustee.

Advance Health Care Directive. An advance health care directive (sometimes called a living will) can take effect while you are still alive. This is a legal document that sets out your instructions for medical treatment if you become unable to communicate, such as whether or not you want to be placed on life support. An advance health care directive can relieve the emotional burden from your family of having to make difficult decisions because you’ve already communicated your wishes through this document.

Power of Attorney. This legal document helps in the event you’re incapacitated or in the hospital in an unresponsive state. A power of attorney gives the individual you designate, also known as an agent, the authority to transact financial and legal matters on your behalf. Set up a power of attorney, before you need it. If you don’t and you’re unable to make decisions, your family may have to petition the court to get those powers, which costs time and money.

Estate planning is a huge favor that you’re doing for your family. Get these three legal documents in place.

Reference: Motley Fool (February 18, 2019) “3 Must-Have Estate Planning Documents To Get Done This Year”

Handwritten Wills Found from the Queen of Soul, Raises More Estate Problems

The three handwritten wills found hidden in Aretha Franklin’s suburban Detroit home in May, may not be easy to figure out, says NBC News in the article “Aretha Franklin’s handwritten wills raise tangled legal questions.” There were a total of 16 pages, filled with scratch-outs, notes in the margins and the occasional digression.

In many states, these documents wouldn’t even qualify as wills, because they were not notarized and there is no evidence of any witnesses to Franklin’s signature. However, the iconic singer died in Michigan, and courts there are more likely than other states to take these documents seriously. Every state has its own laws about wills and estate documents. Michigan allows for “holographic” or handwritten wills, as long as they are dated and signed and as long as the “material portions are in the testator’s handwriting.”

One attorney who reviewed the scanned copies that were posted online, remarked that the wills seem to be dated and each page seems to be signed. One of the wills is dated March 2014, and two are dated 2010. However, legal experts have said it’s not quite clear whether the wills are in Franklin’s handwriting.

In that case, the probate court or Franklin’s family would have to seek out a handwriting expert or a forensic document examiner to study the handwriting. The examiner would need to see a more recent handwriting sample, to see if the characteristics of the handwriting match. However, there’s a lot of room for skepticism of any handwriting analysis. There’s no precise means of measuring and assessing handwriting, so there are doubters.

Another potential problem: the probate court would have to be certain that the documents were intended to be treated as a last will and testament. If there’s any doubt, verifying the pages will become more challenging. How can the court be sure that she meant the documents to be her will, or if she was just gathering her thoughts? The probate court would need to study the content of the documents and consider the circumstances in which they were written.

Franklin was 76 when she died in 2018 of pancreatic cancer. At the time, lawyers and family members said that she did not have a will. Her attorney, David Bennett, who had been her lawyer for four decades, filed the wills in a probate court in Michigan. He told a judge that he was not certain whether they were legal under state law.

The handwritten wills have been shared with Franklin’s four sons or their attorneys, but no decision had been reached regarding whether they were valid. In a statement, the estate said that two of the sons had objected to the wills.

Franklin is not the first celebrity to die without a will, and she certainly won’t be the last. James Brown’s estate has been tied up due to probate, family and copyright issues, since his death in 2006.

These high-profile cases of people who die without wills (or who die with handwritten wills) should encourage the rest of us to make sure that our estate plans are in place. We may not have amassed the wealth or possessions these celebrities have, but even our “normal” estates will create unnecessary headaches, expenses and strife for our families, if we do not prepare in advance for our own passing.

Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney and help your family avoid any additional stress after your passing, with a complete estate plan.

Reference: NBC News (May 23, 2019) “Aretha Franklin’s handwritten wills raise tangled legal questions”