Legal Perils of Gifts and Joint Ownership between Unmarried Couples

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Nov 22, 2023 | 0 Comments

Cohabitation without marriage is becoming more common in the United States. Among eighteen- to forty-four-year-olds, the percentage of adults who have lived with an unmarried partner at some point is now higher than the percentage of adults who have been married. When you live with a romantic partner, it may feel as though you share everything. And to some extent, this may be true, legally speaking. For example, there is a trend toward unmarried couples buying homes together. While this might make economic sense, especially at a time when household budgets are being stretched, it can also create legal complications. Gifts that are given purely out of affection can create unintended consequences as well. This includes gift taxes and the relinquishing of control over the gift once it is accepted. Your heart might be in the right place, but without understanding gifts and joint ownership, you could be making a decision that you will come to regret.

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Is a Defect a Good Thing? Intentionally Defective Grantor Trusts in Estate Planning

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Nov 15, 2023 | 0 Comments

The notion that your estate plan contains a defect would not normally be welcomed as good news. But despite the moniker, an intentionally defective grantor trust (IDGT) can be an advantageous tool for minimizing estate taxes and maximizing the money and property that are passed on to a spouse, descendants, or other beneficiaries. The defect in this case refers to trust provisions that make the grantor (the person creating the trust)—not the trust—the trust owner and therefore liable for trust income taxes. By not having annual income taxes come directly out of the trust’s money and property, more value remains for beneficiaries. Further, the appreciation of accounts and property is excluded from the trust owner’s taxable estate.

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An Introduction to Dynasty Trusts

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Nov 01, 2023 | 0 Comments

A dynasty trust is an irrevocable trust that offers the tax minimization and asset protection benefits of other types of trusts, but unlike a trust that ends with outright distributions to your children or grandchildren, a dynasty trust can span more than two generations. Also known as a perpetual trust, a dynasty trust theoretically can last forever—or at least for as long as trust money and property remain. Because the trust could last for many years, and the rules generally cannot be changed once the trust is created, a dynasty trust must be set up with great care.

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Three Celebrity Probate Disasters and Tragic Lessons

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Oct 25, 2023 | 0 Comments

One would assume that celebrities with extreme wealth would take steps to protect their estates. But think again: some of the world’s richest and most famous people enter the pearly gates with no estate plan, while others have made estate planning mistakes that tied up their fortunes and heirs in court for years. Let us look at three high-profile celebrity probate disasters and discover what lessons we can learn from them.

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Why a Trust Is the Best Option to Avoid Probate

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Oct 18, 2023 | 0 Comments

Ideally, when someone passes away, the paperwork and material concerns associated with the deceased’s passing are so seamlessly handled (thanks to excellent preparation) that they fade into the background, allowing the family and other loved ones to grieve and remember the deceased in peace.

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Three Reasons to Avoid Probate

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Oct 11, 2023 | 0 Comments

When you pass away, your family may need to sign certain documents as part of a probate process in order to claim their inheritance. This can happen if you own property (like a house, car, bank account, investment account, or other asset) in your name only and you have not completed a beneficiary, pay-on-death, or transfer-on-death designation. Although having a will is a good basic form of planning, a will does not avoid probate. Instead, a will simply allows you to inform the probate court of your wishes—your loved ones still have to go through the probate process to make those wishes legal.

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The Pros and Cons of Probate

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Oct 04, 2023 | 0 Comments

In estate planning circles, the word “probate” often carries a negative connotation. Indeed, for many people—especially those with valuable accounts and property—financial planners may recommend trying to keep accounts and property out of probate whenever possible. Further, probate in some jurisdictions can be complicated and costly, and property owned in multiple jurisdictions will trigger ancillary proceedings in those other jurisdictions.

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Three Tips for Overwhelmed Executors

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Sep 27, 2023 | 0 Comments

While it is an honor to be named as a trusted decision maker, also known as an executor or personal representative, in a person’s will, it can often be a sobering and daunting responsibility. Being an executor requires a high level of organization, foresight, and attention to detail to meet responsibilities and ensure that all beneficiaries receive the accounts and property to which they are entitled. If you are an executor who is feeling overwhelmed, here are some tips to lighten the load.

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Does the Guardian for My Child Have to Be a United States Citizen?

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Sep 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

One of the more uncomfortable aspects of estate planning is deciding what will happen to your child if both you and the child’s other legal parent were to die unexpectedly. While the odds of this happening are low, the consequences of not naming a legal guardian in your will or a separate document can be significant, since a court would have to choose somebody to care for your child without your input.

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Are You Single with a Minor Child? If So, You Need a Plan

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Sep 13, 2023 | 0 Comments

You have a minor child who depends on you for their survival, so you need to make sure that they will be cared for if you are ever unable to care for them. By creating an estate plan, you can address your minor child’s care and custody and provide instructions about how your money and property should be used for their care should something happen to you.

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Assisted Reproductive Technology and the Real Impact on Estate Planning

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Sep 06, 2023 | 0 Comments

According to data provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 2 percent of all infants born in the United States (83,946 in 2019) were conceived using assisted reproductive technology (ART). ART is defined by the CDC as all fertility treatments in which both eggs and embryos are handled. It can involve many procedures, the most well-known being artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization (IVF), and cryopreservation (genetic material frozen for later use). Another related arrangement involves surrogacy, in which a woman other than the one who will take on the role of mother carries and gives birth to a child. A surrogate can utilize the surrogate’s egg and the father’s sperm or carry an embryo containing genetic material from one or both of the intended parents implanted via in-vitro fertilization.

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Top Four Estate Planning Questions to Answer When Using Assisted Reproductive Technology

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Aug 30, 2023 | 0 Comments

Welcoming a child into the family is a major milestone in every parent’s life, especially if you have utilized assisted reproductive technology (ART). With this blessing comes the need for comprehensive financial and estate plans that are uniquely tailored to your family’s needs. As you continue your journey, we want to provide you with answers to some common questions you may have about planning for your family.

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What Is the Effect of an Unrecorded Deed?

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Aug 09, 2023 | 0 Comments

A deed is a legal document used to transfer real property ownership rights from one person or entity (the grantor) to another (the grantee). In many cases, this transfer occurs due to the property being sold, with the seller transferring the property to the buyer. Typically, a deed is recorded with the local county recorder of deeds. Recording the deed gives the public notice that the grantee now legally owns the property. 

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Red Flags When Hiring a Professional To Be Your Trustee

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Aug 02, 2023 | 0 Comments

When you form a trust as part of your estate plan, one of the most important decisions you will make is who will oversee the trust’s management when you are no longer able to manage it (also known as your successor trustee). Because a trustee’s work may be time-consuming, complicated, and risk liability, many people who create a trust consider naming a professional fiduciary as their trustee. Keep in mind that if you ask your estate planning attorney to serve as your successor trustee, you should ask for a separate engagement letter from the one you sign engaging them to create your estate plan. When looking to hire a professional to serve as your trustee, the following are several red flags you should keep in mind.

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Garn–St Germain Act: What You Need to Know

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Jul 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

It is important to let your estate planning attorney know if you own real estate that is subject to a mortgage. Most mortgages include due-on-sale clauses stating that, upon the transfer of the mortgaged property, the entire amount of the debt owed on the mortgage is immediately due and payable. Under the Garn–St Germain Depository Institutions Act of 1982[1] (Garn–St Germain Act), lenders are prohibited from enforcing due-on-sale clauses in some circumstances but not in others. If your estate plan involves the transfer of property subject to a mortgage, it is important to keep this in mind.

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How Does a Trust Terminate?

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Jun 12, 2023 | 0 Comments

When Will a Trust Terminate? Nothing lasts forever. While trusts can stretch across generations and keep valuable money and property within a family, no trust has unlimited funds or an interminable time horizon. Every trust, at some point, will end. The reasons why a trust might terminate can v...

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Should I Include an LLC in My Estate Plan?

Posted by ANGELA RICH HARTMANN | Apr 26, 2023 | 0 Comments

When it comes to protecting your hard-earned money and property, it is important that you have the right plan, which can include a number of tools for your unique situation. One tool that might benefit you is a limited liability company (LLC) that owns some of your accounts and property.

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