Author Archives: Minna Vallentine

Who gets your bible and your jelly jar collection?

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Do you have a tangible personal property memo as part of your estate plan?  I just read a Forbes article that really makes a good case for why one is necessary.

An example they used is as follow, “When a widow with incapacity issues and squabbling adult children died, the executor she named in her will rushed to her home and changed the locks just as one son showed up to take things left in her will to his siblings.”

“in another case, an elderly woman who lived in a run-down house despite having millions of dollars in securities in the bank, had told various nieces, nephews and friends from church that she would give them specific pieces of costume jewelry, the family bible and her collection of homemade jams.  What they were fighting over were these sentimental, valueless items because they had an emotional attachment to them.”

How can you prevent these kinds of squabbles at what is already a very emotional time in your family’s life?  Put everything in writing.  Don’t must make oral promises.  Spell out who gets what in a will, trust or personal property memorandum.  That way, there won’t be any guessing games or arguments.  Your executor will distribute specific items to those who you wanted to have them.

For more information about end of life planning, check out our website at www.diesmart.com.

Seven towns want their residents to become immortal!

cemeteryBet you never thought that there would be places where death is a crime.  Well, there are.  Seven cities in Italy, France, Brazil, Spain and Norway urge their citizens not to die.

 

  1. Sellia, Italy – The town has only 537 residents, the majority over 65.  The mayor decreed that getting sick was not an option.  If the residents died, it might kill the town as well.  Even though the ban is not enforceable, the town government encourages its residents to stay healthy.  Anyone who doesn’t get a yearly checkup will be fined.
  2.   Cugnaux, France – Because there were only 17 plots left in the town cemeteries, in 2007 the mayor decreed dying illegal for anyone who didn’t already have a crypt to be buried in.  The only available land for a new cemetery was on a nearby military air base.  However, the defense ministry did not want the town to bury its dead there.  Luckily, the defense ministry finally gave in and agreed to allow burials.
  3. Sarpourenx, France – In 2008, because of overcrowded cemetery conditions, the mayor forbid residents from passing on.  “Offender shall be severely punished.”
  4. Biritiba Mirim, Brazil – In 2005, there was such a shortage of space in the local cemetery that the mayor banned death.  Luckily, a new cemetery opened in 2010 so people are allowed to go on dying.
  5. Lanjaron, Spain – In 1999, this town faced a grave shortage.  So the mayor forbid his citizens to die until municipal officials could find space for a new cemetery.
  6. Falciano Del Massico, Italy – In 2012, this town decided to outlaw death as a way of prodding a neighboring town into letting it share cemetery space.  (The neighboring town had been charging non-residents more for a plot.)  As of 2014, the town was still fighting to get a new cemetery.
  7. Longyearbyen, Norway – It’s the world’s northernmost settlement and mostly a mining town.  In 1950, realizing that bodies in the local cemetery were not decomposing, the town stopped allowing new burials.  If you get sick and think you’re going to die, you’d better go elsewhere.

If you know of another town anywhere in the world that doesn’t allow death, we’d love to know about it.

For information about end of life planning, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

From 29 to 6 – at what cost?

Prin eAs everyone probably knows by now, Prince died on April 21, 2016 and he didn’t have a will.  You’d think that someone who had attorneys involved in almost every phase of his life and was worth more than $250 million would have done some estate planning, but evidently not.

Once his death was announced, 29 people came forward claiming to be Prince’s relatives.  After several court hearings and DNA testing, the group was whittled down to 6.   A few weeks ago, the judge ordered additional genetic testing to conclusively determine whether these people are his descendants.

What did all of these court hearings, testing sessions and attorneys cost?  We don’t know but the amount is definitely a sizeable figure.  It’s an amount that could have been avoided if Prince had written a will and a trust.  In those documents, he could have spelled out exactly what he wanted done with his money and to whom he wanted it to go.

You probably don’t have $250 million to worry about but, whatever the amount, you can make it much more cost effective and a lot less nerve wracking for your heirs if you’ll just prepare the appropriate legal papers.  That way, there won’t be a lot of guessing and fighting in court about what others think you meant to happen.  It will all be spelled out in your will and trust so there will be no doubt about your wishes.

For information about estate planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com or consult a estate planning attorney.

 

 

What will happen to your minor children if you die?

kids-clip-art-1If you’ve got young children, your days are filled with all sorts of activities related to them.  You don’t have time for much else, especially not long term planning.

However, ask yourself who will take care of your children if you and/or your spouse are not there?  What if you’re in a car crash or some other totally unexpected accident and both of you are killed or seriously injured.  What if you are a single parent with a catastrophic illness.  Where will your children go?

Even though a will is a very important part of an estate plan, a critical part of that plan is to specify who you choose to be your children’s guardian when you’re not around.  That person will care for your children and be legally responsible for them until they become adults.  Don’t you want to leave your children in the care of someone you feel is the best person for the job?

If you don’t name a legal guardian, the state in which you live will decide who will raise your children in case you are unable to do so.  Do you want judge who doesn’t know you or your children to decide where they will live and who will care for them?  It could be a relative you don’t think would do a good job or who doesn’t share your views on how to raise your children.  Or it might be someone who is not related to your children at all.

Life isn’t predictable and no one knows when the unforeseeable will happen.  Protect your children today.  Prepare the legal document that names a legal guardian for your children today.

For more information about this subject and other end of life planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.

Shakespeare’s second best bed – where did it go?

shakespeare bedEven in the 1600s, people wrote wills to designate where they wanted their assets to go after their death.

William Shakespeare’s will was signed on March 25, 1616.  He left most of his estate to his daughter, Susannah Hall.  However, toward the end of the will he mentioned his wife of 34 years, Ann, “Item I gyve unto my wife my second best bed with the furniture.”  Furniture back them included the curtains and bedcover which formed part of the complete bed.

If you want to give your second best bed, or any other specific item, to a beloved friend or relative, make sure you state that in your will so that your wishes will be honored.

For information about wills and estate planning, go to our website www.diesmart.com.