Category Archives: Estate Planning

Estate Planning Facts. Last Will and Testaments versus Living Trusts. Estate Taxes. Gift Taxes. Inherited IRAs. Guardians for minor children. Pet Trusts. Funeral Agents. Avoiding Probate. Get Your Affairs In Order.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Are you among the 63%?

last-willThat’s the percent of Americans who do not have a will, according to a Google Consumer survey by USLegalWills.com.

A recent Forbes.com article talks about some of the horror stories that occur when people die without putting an estate plan in place.

Here are the headings from the real stories:

Death causes sibling in-fighting.

Children get nothing, new wife gets everything.

Life partner left without legal standing.

Life insurance ends up in the wrong hands.

Heirs are left trying to find everything.

Partner owes enormous taxes on property.

Process is time consuming and expensive.

I urge you to read the stories.  You may recognize yourself in some of them.  But you can avoid the terrible consequences that the people encountered if you will just take the time to prepare an estate plan that reflects what you want to have happen to your assets when you die.

For more information about what to do, go to our website, www.diesmart.com.

Did he really just get the lorry?

junkyardAlthough this actually happened in the UK, it could just as easily have happened here.

Fred McGuinness owned a scrap yard.  When he died at age 64 in 1987, he left everything to his wife Edith.

He had four children: David, Freddie, Kevin and Denise.  David claimed that he and his brothers had been promised shares of the business to pay them back for all the years they spent working in the family business.

When Edith died at age 87 in 2013, David fully expected that their time had come to get their reward.  However, Edith left everything she had, including the yard, to Denise.  The only other bequest was a small one to charity.  In a letter Edith wrote to accompany her will, she said that she and Denise had been excluded from the business and “mistreated”.

Although Denise owned a quarter of the business, her bookkeeping role had been eliminated, she never got a bonus and her pension was a “pittance”.

Edith also wrote that “since Mr. McGuinness passed away, she had watched his once-thriving business ‘go to nothing from greed’.”

Edith’s estate was valued for probate at more than £3million after tax and the court heard that a £12million offer had been received for the yard.

Although David had “taken it for granted” that he would inherit part of the yard, the probate judge disagreed.  He said there was never “a cast iron promise” that the yard would be divided among all of the children.

The judge further ruled that the only thing David would inherit was a classic Morris lorry, valued at about £10,000.

You can’t assume that what’s been casually mentioned as what you’ll inherit will stand up in court.  If you feel that something should rightly be yours, be sure to discuss it with your parents while they are still alive and get their commitment put into a legal document.  Otherwise, you may find yourself – like David – without the inheritance you had been expecting…and experiencing friction with any other heirs.

Everyone should have a will that outlines what they wish to happen to their assets when they die and clearly spells out the terms.  If you have assets, don’t delay.  Get a will written today.  You can either find a “do it yourself” version on the web or, if your estate is larger or more complicated, find an estate attorney who will prepare one for you.

For more information about estate planning and will writing, go to our website, www.diesmart.com.