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Bay Area Estates and Tax Law Blog

Divorce, 401(k)/IRA transfers, bankruptcy and … trusts?

Legal commentators frequently make the point that the realm of estate planning is far broader and multi-faceted than is commonly appreciated. Legions of individuals and families in California and nationally duly note that planning applies to focused money concerns and key end-of-life considerations, but don’t immediately see the wider ramifications of estate administration.

Take bankruptcy, for instance. More specifically, consider a case where divorce, tax-sheltered account transfer and subsequent bankruptcy all have integrated relevance and can ultimately be influenced by smart and proactive estate planning.

The impressive flexibility, tailored aspects of trusts

This story hardly seems surprising. Reportedly, the central idea inherent in a trust -- one party’s holding property of potentially varied types for the benefit of another -- goes back many centuries.

One recent article on the broad and effective role that trusts often play in estate administration states that those planning tools might have first been authored “when nobles went off to do battle in the Crusades” more than 700 years ago. Departing fighters entrusted their assets to someone they could trust -- logically enough, a trustee -- for safekeeping in their absence or in the event they died in far off lands.

Bills and taxes: Estate administration can be complex

Many things related to a person's estate have to occur after they pass away. These tasks are left to the administrator of the estate. It is imperative that anyone who is creating an estate plan, as well as those who have to administer an estate, understand an estate's bills and tax burden.

When a person passes away, handling the estate isn't as easy as reading the will and handing out the assets named in it. Instead, there are specific things that an estate is responsible for. The assets held by the estate, with the exception of those in trusts that can't be touched by creditors, have to be used to pay off the debts of the estate if creditors make a claim. The estate also has to file a final tax return.

Twelve years and counting: musical icon’s estate battle rages on

One-of-a-kind musical legend James Brown was something to behold on a stage when the music kicked in. And a recent Forbes article notes that even now, nearly a dozen years after his death, legions of people still regard the pop/soul icon “with rapt fascination.”

Brown died in late 2006, leaving an estate plan that he hoped would be duly sorted through and settled in timely fashion and without material issues.

Incorporating legacy goals, aspirations into estate planning

Forbes contributor Daniel Scott will likely not embrace many new friendships among professionals in the estate planning realm following his recently penned article criticizing the industry.

Scott – who is a money manager and financial adviser – gives the wealth management industry high marks for its “largely shifting away from investing merely to continually grow assets” for clients.

Relevant considerations concerning California will contests

Avid watchers of television crime dramas have undoubtedly run across one or more shows centered on acrimonious family disputes involving a testator's will. Such offerings often spotlight alleged wrongdoing of a serious nature that now promises results so-called will contestants say were not remotely intended by the instrument's creator.

Concededly, a will contest can sometimes be a fiery and ornery affair, with some underhanded and flatly illegal conduct being involved that did indeed thwart a testator's intent. Conversely, though, and in many other cases, a contest might involve something a bit more pedestrian than that. A will might be challenged because it was arguably not properly witnessed. Maybe its drafting particulars did not duly comply with state law requirements. Perhaps there is some issue relevant to its signing.

How smart estate planning can protect a business in divorce

In some instances, the first and final go-to contact for legal help in a property-linked divorce matter is a proven family law attorney. Experienced counsel specializing in that singular legal sphere can do a number of things to help a divorcing client safeguard assets and secure an equal or otherwise equitable share of so-called marital property.

Moreover, that help can extend to virtually all manner of property, ranging from a family home and investment accounts to artwork, heirlooms and company-tied assets such as pensions, bonuses and stock options.

Movie icon’s estate planning garners some attention following death

The phrase “alleged disinheritance” is likely to command attention in any final estate plan accounting, with that certainly being the case where a celebrity is concerned.

Burt Reynolds unquestionably qualifies for that title, with that actor being a Hollywood mainstay and box-office draw for several decades. Reynolds died earlier this month. Similarly with musical icon Aretha Franklin, who also died recently, his estate planning details are eliciting some public attention in the wake of his passing.

What percentage of adult siblings have problimatic relationships?

You and your siblings haven't gotten along in years. Granted, you're occasionally able to put the fights and rivalries aside for Christmas dinner or some other family gathering, but that's a far cry from being happy and getting along. You're just pretending for the sake of your parents.

If your parents pass away, are things just going to get worse? Are they really the glue that helps to hold those relationships together? That's true in a lot of families. Sometimes, siblings stop seeing one another completely after their parents have passed away. They don't feel like they have to try anymore because they were only really trying for Mom and Dad anyway.

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