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July 2011 Archives

Estate planning becomes less significant if you have nothing to hand over. Unfortunately for many victims of elderly financial abuse, victims give away the majority of their assets before death making moot the most carefully crafted estate planning. So, you may want to consider having a durable power of attorney for finances to prevent your best drafted will from becoming a useless piece of paper.

An investment advisor wrote in Nasdaq that he had a wealthy client who lost $1.3 million to an Internet scam. The client, who is 80 years old, received a spam email saying that a long lost relative had died without a will and that there was millions of dollars waiting to be collected in some bank in Switzerland. The only catch to collecting the millions?

New York Estate Laws; Inheritance Rights of Unborn Children

The inheritance rights of unborn children after death. Who would even consider adding such a provision to their will? Well, you may want to if you took a look at New York inheritance laws.

The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article about two issues that are frequently overlooked in estate planning -- who will look after your beloved pets after death and the rights of unborn children after death.

New York Prenuptial Agreements and the Right of Election

Prenuptial agreements are often thought of as something to protect your assets in case of divorce. But The Queens Courier reports that these agreements are also very important to protect the assets of your potential heirs due to a surviving spouse’s “right of election.”

Under New York law, your surviving spouse automatically has a right to a portion of your estate regardless of what your will may say. This is called the right of election.

Generally, the elective share for your surviving spouse is one-third of your estate if you have a child, or one-half if you have no surviving children. Your surviving spouse is entitled to this minimum amount even if your will says otherwise.

Right of Publicity in New York? Yoko Ono Sues "Lennon's Bar"

Over 30 years after his death, people are still profiting from John Lennon's name. This is fine as long as the profitee is his widow Yoko Ono. But if anyone profits from the Lennon name, you may see a John Lennon lawsuit and terms like "right of publicity" thrown around.

According to Canada's music authority, Exclaim!, Yoko Ono has threatened to sue Lennon's Bar, a Beatles themed bar in Scotland. Apparently, Ono does not like that she is not getting a cut of what bar-owner Mike Craig brings in presumably through use of her late husband's name.

Can You Transfer Frequent Flyer Miles to Heirs?

A basic part of estate planning is tallying all of your assets and determining who will get them. But as you put together a list of assets, you may overlook something you spend so much effort and time to accumulate -- frequent flyer miles.

Now, according to Forbes, a Texas Tech law professor has looked into how to transfer the miles showing that it may be worthwhile to consider this in your estate planning.

Celeste Holm, Frank Basile Recovering from Inheritance Feud

In an increasingly familiar story, an aging widow of means is purportedly taken advantage of by a younger suitor who is only after the widow's money. At least that's the story that the adult sons of 94-year old Hollywood legend Celeste Holm would have you believe regarding her marriage to 48-year old former waiter Frank Basile, reports The New York Times.

But is this really the story of a widow who finds true love as an octogenarian -- with someone half her age? That's the story that Holm and Basile would have you believe.

According to the Times, in her long life, Celeste Holm amassed an estate worth about $13 million. When her fourth husband died in 1996, her sons became actively involved in managing her money and eventually created an irrevocable trust to look over her investments and pay her expenses.

Estate Planning Checklist: Documents to Gather

You can ensure that your heirs do not run into problems when your estate is divided by following an estate planning checklist of the documents to gather before the end-of-life.

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the 25 estate planning documents to have in order before you die, and the article is interesting as it stresses the 24 other documents you need besides your will.

Most people know about wills and the importance of wills to estate planning. But what most don't realize is that a will is not the end-all, be-all document.

The Utah homeless man and missing heir, Max Melitzer, finally returned to New York to claim his inheritance. Over a year ago, Melitzer inherited about $100,000 from his brother. After a year of searching, he was finally found on a Salt Lake City park bench.

But even after Melitzer was found, there was some concern that he would disappear again. That's because Melitzer failed to return on his scheduled bus from Utah to New York, reports the Daily Mail.

As Melitzer reportedly suffered emotional problems, one could speculate that he would simply disappear again.