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September 2012 Archives

Four Questions to Ask Your Estate Planning Lawyer

Estate planning isn't the easiest area of law to understand so it's understandable why as a potential client, you might be daunted by the idea of visiting an estate planning attorney's office.

What documents will you need to bring? What will the estate planning lawyer ask you? Will you even understand anything the attorney has to say?

Relax. Remember that you're the one who is hiring the attorney. As such, you need to make an informed decision on whether or not to retain him or her.

Here are the top 4 questions you need to ask your estate planning attorney:

DNA Test For Man Claiming to Be Sherman Hemsley's Brother

Sherman Hemsley's estate battle is getting weirder by the minute. The late "Jeffersons" star's body has been in refrigeration since his July death. Now, The New York Times states that a man purporting to be Hemsley's brother has stepped forward, claiming that he has a right to Sherman Hemsley's estate.

Hemsley played George Jefferson on the shows "All in the Family" and "The Jeffersons." He died in late July of lung cancer.

Understanding Estate Planning: Powers of Appointment

You’ve heard of powers of attorney, but what exactly is a power of appointment?

A power of appointment is an important concept in estate planning. It’s used quite often in trusts— revocable and irrevocable. It is essentially the power to appoint trust property.

A quick example: You form a revocable trust and the trust contains a provision that allows for a third party (Mrs. X) to withdraw or consume trust property for herself or for the benefit of another.

Tom Sims, Snowboard Creator and Pioneer, Dies at 61

Maybe you were a skater as a kid, or maybe you enjoy heading up to the mountains to snowboard in the winter. If you do, you share the same passions as Tom Sims, who created the framework for current snowboards with metal edges and high-backed bindings.

Sims was so enthralled with skateboarding after a visit to L.A. as a child that it pushed him to make ways to continue to ride a board year-round, according to The New York Times. Besides the snowboard, Sims also started Sims Skateboards, which sponsored the biggest names in skateboarding in the 70s and 80s.

Sims, 61, passed away from complications after suffering cardiac arrest. He leaves behind his sister, his wife, three children, and two step-children.

NFL Films' Steve Sabol's Death: How to Leave a Lasting Legacy

NFL Films is best known for those slow-motion images of crushing hits on the field and footballs spiraling through the air. These images were the pioneering vision of Steve Sabol and his father Ed, who started the company to show the passion and epic nature of the game of football, according to The New York Times.

Sabol's passing makes us realize that there may be passions of our own that we devote our lives to. Perhaps you'd want to include a gift to charity or a business as part of your estate plan, so that even in death you can continue to contribute to your passion.

Are there special steps to leave all or part of your estate to a charity or business?

Thomas Kinkade's Girlfriend Wins Right to Stay in His Calif. House

It's one of the risks involved when you are dating someone, or living with them, and you aren't married: There are no protections in place if your partner dies unexpectedly.

This is what happened to Thomas Kinkade and his live-in girlfriend of 18 months, Amy Pinto-Walsh, at the time of his death. The difference here is that there are some disputed estate documents that purportedly give the house to his girlfriend instead of his estranged wife, according to the San Jose Mercury News. Now, the California court hearing the case has given the girlfriend the right to stay in Kinkade's house with an $11,000-per-month rent.

Kinkade's wife claims ownership over all of the furnishings and artwork in the house that existed before Pinto moved in, according to the Mercury News.

So how can you ensure that your unmarried partner receives what you want him or her to get in your will?

Taking an Estate to Court: What Is a Trustee or Executor's Duty?

We often see in the news that a deceased celebrity's estate is suing someone for use of the celebrity's copyrighted material or trademarked phrase.

Most recently, there was a ruling for Michael Jackson's estate that barred a website from advertising the sale of the late pop star's previously unreleased songs and photos, according to Courthouse News Service. Another case involved the late historian Howard Zinn and his interviews. In both cases, the estates of the deceased became entangled in a legal battle.

Why is it that estates often end up in court? Aren't they simply supposed to be divided among heirs?

Do You Need a Health Care Directive for End-of-Life Decisions?

There seems to be controversy over somebody's end-of-life issues once every few years. The most famous of these was the Terry Schiavo case, which pit the brain-damaged woman's parents against her husband in a fight over whether to keep her on life support. Similar cases have occurred across the globe in places like Italy and the UK.

The reason the Schiavo battle occurred was because she had been young and did not have a health care power of attorney or a health care directive in place. If she'd had one of these documents in place, it would have clearly outlined the process to determine whether and when to end life-sustaining procedures.

So which is the right option for you?

Do You Need a Living Trust? Considerations for New Yorkers

Most of us think of trusts as being only for the wealthy. New Yorkers may know terms like "trust fund baby" or "charitable trust," but may rarely think about what a trust really means (aside from whether you can trust the person next to you on the subway).

However, a living trust can be very helpful to everyday folks. It can help organize your assets and help your heirs avoid the potentially costly process of probate.

Here are some issues to consider when you're deciding how best to deal with your estate:

Hip-Hop Moguls Need Estate Plans, Just Like the Rest of Us

Anyone who listens to music or has been on a college campus lately will know that Dr. Dre is making money hand over fist. You must've at least seen one person with those Beats by Dr. Dre headphones plugged into her iPhone.

Forbes has recently listed the top earners in the hip-hop world with the good Doctor ranking No. 1, followed by Diddy, Jay-Z, Kanye, and Lil Wayne, respectively. Andre "Dr. Dre" Young pulled in $110 Million last year to rise to the top of this chart.

With all of Dre's assets in different investments, how would these ventures continue if he were to pass on without an estate plan?

Nate Dogg Was a Regulator, Except for His Estate; Probate Ahead

Sure Warren G is the name on the track, but "Regulate" was Nate Dogg all the way. If you listen to the lyrics, you'll even notice that in the story, it is Nate Dogg who saves Warren G from getting mugged by regulating before the two of them get together with the fly ladies.

Sadly, Nate Dogg, whose legal name was Nathaniel Dwayne Hale, passed away suddenly last year due to complications with multiple strokes. In his estate, he left behind real estate and his earnings from his music catalog, but no will to determine where it goes, according to TMZ. Now there are issues between Nate Dogg's six children, his wife, and his mother in administering his estate through the probate process.

Do his children need to worry that there was no will?