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January 2012 Archives

Joe Paterno's Estate Tax Mistake in House Sale: Argues Expert

Did Penn State football's celebrated and controversial recently departed head coach, Joe Paterno, make an estate tax mistake before his death, wonders Forbes?

To identify Joe Paterno's estate tax mistake, Forbes looks back to the much discussed Joe Paterno house sale for $1, as previously reviewed on FindLaw's New York Estate Planning News.

What Causes Celebrity Estate Wars? Lessons For Everyone

Celebrity estate wars are well known to Americans, whether it is Jerry Garcia or Anna Nicole Smith or Etta James, reports Reuters. Just because someone has passed away doesn’t mean that they pie they left behind shouldn’t be fought over. But there may be lessons in cases like those of Etta James for just about everyone.

Apparently the most common scenario for celebrity estate wars are second or third marriages with children from multiple marriages. Other celebrity estate wars occur when families were in business together, reports Reuters.

So what should average people take away from reading about celebrity estate feuds?

Is the Etta James Feud Over Estate Over?

One of the secondary story-lines in the unfortunate passing of legendary singer, Etta James was the estate battle between her sons and her husband, as the Huffington Post reported.

The matter was of particular delicacy because the singer had dementia. However, there may yet be good news for her fans, who probably don’t want to see a long fight over assets that she accrued through her talents.

It turns out that her sons, Donto and Sametto, who had gone to court many times to challenge the singer’s husband of 42 years, Artis Mills, may have reached a point of comity, reports Contact Music.

Mitt Romney's Inheritance Brings Dynasty Trusts To Light

Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor currently running for the GOP nomination for president, has often been confronted with the question of his wealth. This includes both what he made at the corporate firm Bain Consulting, and what he may have inherited from his father, George Romney, who was the CEO of American Motors Company and a governor of Michigan.

With respect to Mitt Romney's inheritance, Mother Jones recently reported an interesting nugget of information. It turns out that in an earlier interview with Reuters, Mitt Romney made an telling remark:

DIY Wills Don't: Do It Yourself Wills Not Always a Good Idea

Americans are the masters of do-it-yourself. It's why places like Home Depot and IKEA exist. Heck, even the first airplane flight was a DIY project for the Wright brothers.

And in the legal arena, Americans do a lot of things on a DIY basis. This includes real estate, fighting traffic violations, small claims court, sometimes divorces, and even going starting the administrative process of filing employment discrimination complaints. And, of course, people write their own wills all the time.

However, perhaps that DIY attitude should be checked a little when it comes to disposing of your estate.

Financial Abuse of the Elderly: Elder Abuse Protection

A while back there was a story about an 89-year-old WWII vet named Jewell Hall, who was suffering from dementia, and apparently got taken advantage of by his new 58-year-old caretaker turned wife.

The case provided yet further evidence of the fact that the elders in America can and are taken advantage of by those younger than themselves. Even where the elderly have children and have come up with a plan for how to protect themselves in old age, squabbles between the children can leave the elderly in a lurch, as reported by the New York Times.

Lower Estate Tax: Transfer Your Insurance Policies

People leaving behind large estates are always searching for good ways to lower the estate tax and FindLaw's New York Estate Planning Blog is often writing about such subjects.

One way to lower your estate tax is through carefully transferring your life insurance policy.

If you transfer your life insurance policy away before your death, the insurance proceeds at your death are someone else's property and will not be included in the total value of your estate.

The True Meaning of Blue Ivy: Jay-Z Must Update His Will

Ever since the birth of Blue Ivy Carter, the daughter of singer Beyonce and rapper Jay-Z, a lot of people have been speculating about the meaning of Blue Ivy, reports CNN.

And while there are many theories out there -- including occult meanings -- there is one significant thing that people may not be paying attention to.

Namely, that Blue Ivy's birth is the moment that both mom and dad should update their wills. This is exactly what the researchers at FindLaw recommend when you have a child (or as wills and estates lawyers understand children: "New People").

What is an AB Trust and Who Should Use AB Trust?

One of the lesser known trusts that people might be able to use to maximize their federal estate tax exemptions is called an AB trust. It is created by married couples, so it would be useful to many readers.

Normally, when one spouse dies passing on his/her assets in a last will and testament, the estate will be taxed heavily before the beneficiaries receive it. However, to avoid this steep estate tax, spouses can set up an AB trust, where each spouse leaves their property to an irrevocable trust.

That's the short version. Now the long.

Book a Flight to Space, Then Look Over Your Will

It would seem that space flight for average people (that are very rich) is just around the corner, reports the New York Times.

In fact, there are a number of certified space travel agents around the country that will be booking flights to space on Virgin, wait for it, Galactic.

Virgin Galactic, let that sink in.

There is even an insurance company, Allianz, now insuring you against, no, not space travel going wrong (that’s life insurance), but travel cancellation or delay — so a form of travel insurance. Allianz will also be offering medical insurance for before and after a flight.