When a Loved One has died, family members often are absorbed by grief and don't want to think about dealing with the real estate, bank accounts and other assets of the deceased Loved One. A century ago that might be a perfectly good course. Today, that could be a bad choice for family harmony as well as the decedent's estate. Here are seven reasons to get the probate process begun soon after the death.
When we were young, our parents sat us down and talked about important subjects including family, school, friendships-and sometimes sex. Now the roles are reversed and we need to talk to our parents about their major issues of life and death.
A most important book is The Conversation by Dr. Angelo Volandes. Dr. Volandes is a physician at Boston General, who specializes in the care of terminally ill patients.
With the coming of spring, the family's thoughts often drift to the family cabin "Up North". Remember those sunny days relaxing at the lakeshore at your family cabin? The kids are playing in the sand or splashing in the lake. As the sun sets, you bring out the barbeque to the beach and grill hot dogs and hamburgers
Debbie Reynolds passed away not long ago at age 84. Confession time. I must admit that as a youngster I always had a crush on Debbie Reynolds.
Her movie "Tammy and the Bachelor" in 1957 portrayed her as the beautiful and unspoiled symbol of American womanhood.
When a family member dies or becomes disabled, their dog or cat is often turned over to a pet shelter where a third of them are later euthanized according to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. That totals over a quarter of a million pets each year.
Blended Families Are Quite Common
It's very common to see blended families here in Minnesota today. When I say blended family, I mean a family with children from different relationships. Because there are so many blended families, people should know that estate planning for these families requires special measures.
A Minnesota Family Faces Probate
Let me tell you about a Minnesota family. A woman we will call Patty is 55 years old woman and lives in Stillwater. She married Peter about twenty years ago and lived happily with him until he passed away from cancer last winter. While she cared very deeply for Peter, Elyse, his daughter from a previous marriage, was a constant headache. Elyse always seemed to be causing problems and getting into trouble while she lived in the house.
Now that Peter has passed away, her stepdaughter Elyse is saying that she is entitled to Peter's assets. Patty is scared and confused about the situation. Peter never said anything about Elyse getting his estate, but Patty doesn't know where to go to ask for help. In fact, last week Elyse and her boyfriend drove off with Peter's truck and boat.
What's Your Plan For The Vacation Home?
Whether it is a palatial estate where Rockefellers and Vanderbilts would feel at home or a rustic cabin in the woods complete with an outhouse, a family vacation home often carries sentimental value that doesn't show up on financial ledgers. That is all the more reason why owners of such homes should plan for the orderly transfer of the home for future generations.
Estate Planning Options To Consider
With the help of some professional guidance, owners can choose from a variety of options tailored to particular situations and priorities.
- Outright sale of the property to a third party is simplest, but be prepared for substantial capital gains if the property has been in the family long enough to appreciate in value.
- A simple bequest can be used to keep the home in the family, but, by itself, it may not address issues such as use and maintenance.
- A trust, in particular a Qualified Personal Residence Trust, has some tax benefits. The grantor gifts the property but retains a right to use it for a definite term. The value of the gift is calculated as the value of the property, less the retained interest. However, if the grantor does not outlive the retained term, the property will be included in the grantor's estate.
- A limited liability company (LLC) has the benefit of protecting assets generally. If someone is injured on the property, the owner's liability would be confined to the ownership interest in the property.
- A partnership has the advantage of a formal structure, but each partner would have to contribute.