Bobbi Kristina had no will – what happens now?

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, died on Sunday, 7/26/2015.  She was only 22 years old and probably had no plans to die so young.  She had done nothing to prepare for death and had no will.

When Whitney Houston died in 2012, she left her entire estate to her daughter.  That estate was worth more than $20 million.  Because of her grandmother’s fear that Bobbi wouldn’t be able to handle so much money at such a young age, she challenged the will and a court ruled that the money could be given to Bobbi in increments.  Although the bulk of her inheritance was not supposed to be given to her until her 30th birthday,  she had received approximately $2 million when she turned 21.

Her father is her next of kin and so, according to the law, will inherit the money she had already received.  However, since he was divorced from her mother, I’m sure Whitney Houston would not have wanted any of her money to go to him.  The balance will probably go to Whitney’s mother, Cissy, who is 81 and her two brothers, Michael 53 and Gary 57 since they are Whitney’s closest living relatives.

Because of the number of people who would like to receive some of these millions, this case will probably go through a long court process before anything is definitively settled.

Is this what Bobbi Kristina would have wanted?  We’ll never know.

Have you written a will, designating what you want to happen to your estate when you die?  Do you want the law to make the decision for you?  You could die suddenly at age 22 from what may or may not be an accident like Bobbi Kristina or at 90 or 95 from a  heart attack or lingering illness.  If the answer to either of these questions is no, you should draft a will immediately and name those people who you want to receive your assets as well as things meaningful to family members like your mother’s jewelry and your dad’s artwork.

You can find a form for a simple will on the web or, for a more sizeable estate, can meet with an attorney to have one drafted soon.  Otherwise, in addition to the law deciding for you, it will make things harder for your surviving heirs.

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Medicare to pay for end-of-life care counseling

Effective January 1, 2016, Medicare plans to pay doctors to speak to patients about their end-of-life care. The doctors will provide counseling and discuss options that range from care that’s more focused on comfort than extending life to doing whatever is possible to resuscitate a dying patient. Some doctors are already having conversations about this topic with their patients but are not billing for it.

Medicare payment will ensure that more doctors will have these conversations which many feel are critical to high-quality care.

The Institute of Medicine issued a report last year which found that few people make their wishes known so many deaths “are filled with breathing machines, feeding tubes, powerful drugs and other treatments that fail to extend life and make its final chapter more painful and unpleasant.” The report, “Dying in America” is free as a PDF or can be paid for and ordered as a bound volume.

While most people have given thought to how they would like to die, many have found it difficult to communicate those views and choices to family and loved ones and, in many cases, family and loved ones have their own perceptions and views about death that can influence discussions about dying.  Most people envision their own death as a peaceful and an ideally rapid transition. However, with the exception of accidents or trauma or of a few illnesses that almost invariably result in death weeks or months after diagnosis, death usually comes at the end of a chronic illness or the frailty accompanying old age. Even though death is very much part of the cycle of life, thinking and talking about one’s own death usually remains in the background, at least until its prospect become more probable or imminent.

Thru the new Medicare offering doctors will be able to discuss with their patients how they would like to die, and to encourage them to put their wishes on paper and share those wishes with their family.

Bitcoins – Is cybercash real?

You bet it is. In fact, the Australian government recently announced that pension applicants must declare their cyber currency such as Bitcoin. “By including Bitcoin and other digital currencies on one of its standard forms”, the Australian government is recognizing that these are definitely a form of wealth. Many countries are still wrestling with where digital currency fits but Australia has accepted it as part of mainstream finance.  If you have cybercash, make sure you are considering it in your estate planning and are not letting it get lost in the confusion about what to do with digital assets. It’s real money and you should treat it as such.
For more information about estate planning, go to

What happens to your casino rewards when you die?

If you’re a member of a casino loyalty program, there may be a great deal of money or comps in your account. When you die, does the account die with you?

An article by Mr. A.C. Casino explains that every Atlantic City casino handles the transaction differently. For example, Bally’s, Caesars, Harrah’s Resort and Showboat Casino-Hotel will transfer any reward credit balance to a surviving spouse or domestic partner. That spouse or partner will have to provide your reward’s card, your personal identification and proof of your death. Any reward credits will still expire on their preset expiration date; it will not be extended.

Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa has a similar policy but all of their comp dollars expire six months after they are earned.

The Tropicana Casino and Resort also has a similar policy but spouses need to link their accounts. Once that’s done, with proper documentation, any remaining dollar balance will be transferred to the surviving spouse’s account.

Golden Nugget, Resorts Casino Hotel, Revel Casino Hotel, Trump Plaza and Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort consider the account closed when someone dies and the balance in not transferable.

If you don’t know what the policy is for your casino of choice, and you maintain a high balance in your loyalty account, you might want to contact that casino and ask. Don’t leave money on the table if you can avoid it.

And be sure to keep your loyalty card account number, PIN and casino host’s name and contact information with your access codes in a place where your spouse or next of kin can find them.

For more information about estate planning or keeping track of your assets, go to

What Happens To Your Yahoo Japan Digital Assets When You Die?

On Monday, Yahoo Japan announced “Yahoo! Ending”, a program designed to help Yahoo Japan users plan for their death.   The search engine, in partnership with funeral services company Kamakura Shinsho, helps Yahoo Japan users make a will, find a grave, and plan their funeral.    Once Yahoo Japan confirms the user has died, the service will set up a memorial site, send out digital farewell messages, and delete personal data from Yahoo’s on line system.      In the future, Yahoo Ending could be expanded to work with credit card, insurance and other companies to manage a wider scope of personal data left behind when users pass away.

Yahoo Ending answers the question “what happens to your Yahoo Japan digital assets when you die”.  Once Yahoo Japan receives proof of death, Yahoo Japan assumes it has the legal authority to delete digital assets created and stored on Yahoo Japan.

In the United States, Yahoo digital assets are in fact part of the estate of the deceased.   Before we created our digital life, we stored photos and art in an album or a picture frame.   Our emails and text messages were paper letters and notes stored in a file cabinet.    When someone dies, the estate representative is required by law to take an inventory of property owned by the deceased and assign a value to the property, including their digital assets.    The estate representative is then required by law to dispose of property the deceased owned based on instructions left in a will or a trust, or state intestate laws if the decedent died without a will or a trust.   In today’s paper world, estate representatives or beneficiaries must provide documents providing they are managing the assets according to the wishes of the deceased.    In a paper world, proof of death does not trigger the automatic deletion or destruction of property owned by the decedent.

The question “what happens to our digital assets” continues to be the subject of legal debate as the internet service providers and the legal infrastructure grapple with the rules and processes for managing and disposing of digital assets that are in fact part of our estate.

We need programs and policies that don’t just deal with the death of the account owner, but also provide a way for trustees and conservators to manage our digital assets in the case of incapacity.

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