Tag Archives: estate

Do presidents forget to write their wills?

LincolnEven though more than 50% of US citizens still don’t have a will, you’d think that the presidents of the United States, with all of their legal advisors and staff, would definitely have protected their property by preparing one.

Not true – Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, William Garfield and Ulysses S. Grant did not!

Two presidents who did leave wills freed slaves in them. George Washington left his entire estate to his wife Martha. He requested that, upon her death, all of their 317 slaves should receive their freedom.

Thomas Jefferson actually freed some of his slaves in his will – 3 older men who worked for him for decades and two of Sally Heming’s four children.

Most other presidents left fairly standard wills, leaving their assets to family members, though a few left special bequests.

Richard Nixon bequeathed his personal diaries to the Richard Nixon Library and Thomas Jefferson gave his friend and former president James Madison his gold-mounted walking staff.

Regardless of what presidents have or have not done, you should definitely consider getting a will prepared today. Otherwise, the government will decide what happens to your assets, not you.

For more information about wills and other end-of-life planning, go the www.diesmart.com.

If you owe money when you die, who pays the debt?

clipart0275If you’re like most people, you have some kind of debt – a mortgage, a credit card bill, school or a car loan. What happens when you die? Do your heirs have to pay your bills for you?
According to a recent U.S. News and World Report article, the general rule of thumb is that if there’s enough money in your estate, your bills will be paid out of the assets you’ve left. Those assets will be liquidated to generate the necessary funds.
If there’s not enough money in your estate, here’s what will probably happen. I say “probably” because there are no firm rules in this area and each case is different.
Credit card:
As long as you don’t have a co-signer on your credit card, the odds are that the debt will be discharged by the credit card company. If you have a co-signer, that person will be responsible and will have to pay whatever is owed.
Mortgage:
If the house isn’t paid off, the bank may decide to foreclose…unless someone takes over the monthly payments.
Car:
If you are making car payments when you die, your vehicle can be repossessed by the bank. However, if one of your family members is willing to take over the loan, there should be no problem.
There are a few caveats that you should be aware of.
If you owe a lot of money and make deathbed gifts, your creditors may be able to convince the court to return those gifts to the estate so that their bills can be paid.
Your children or spouse should be careful about cosigning financial agreements for you. This personal financial guarantee may obligate them to repay any money owed through these agreements after you die.
If you don’t want your loved ones “haunted by debt collectors” after you’re gone, make sure they’re careful about what they sign.
For more information about how to manage your estate and what happens when you die, go to www.diesmart.com.

You’re dead…so what happens to your Bitcoins?

There’s been aBitCoin lot of discussion about digital assets and what happens to your bitcoin accounts when you die. When we checked a while ago, we were told that after a certain period of inactivity, your Bitcoin account will disappear and the money you have in it will be gone forever. If you haven’t given your login, password and digital key information to the person(s) you’d like to inherit the money, they cannot access your Bitcoin wallet and they’re out of luck.
Recently, a few companies have tried to address this important issue. One we came across is Bitcoin Estate Plan.  Their premise is simple. They automatically deliver bitcoin wallet access instructions to your heirs upon your death or incapacitation. This is accomplished through email, phone and/or a written letter via the postal service. You tell them who you want them to contact and the message you want them to send.
The company “will then email or phone you periodically to confirm that you are still alive. If you do not respond after a specified number of attempts the system will deliver your message to your intended recipient(s) by email, snail mail or phone depending upon which service plan you choose.”
It would be cheaper for you to share the necessary information with your heirs prior to your death. However, if you do, they will have the ability to access your funds at any time. A better option to consider might be a company like Bitcoin Estate Plan. That way, your money won’t disappear when you do.

For more information about digital assets and how to protect them, read our book “Access Denied: Your Digital Estate – Why Passwords Are Now as Important as Passwords”. It’s available at Amazon. Also, check out our website www.diesmart.com.

 

5 ideas to consider when doing estate planning

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If you have a spouse and family, you’ll probably leave everything to them.  However, if you don’t have a spouse or kids and you’ve been procrastinating doing your estate planning because you’re not sure what to do about all of your stuff, here are 5 ideas you should think about consider.  We found them in the Rapid City Journal.

  1. Consider leaving something to close friends, caregivers or anyone else who you are close to.
  2. Think about charities that are meaningful to you.  What organizations have goals that match your own?
  3. Think about where a donation could benefit your community.  There are places like libraries, volunteer fire departments, arts organizations that would welcome some extra funds.  What about giving a piece of art to a hospital or buying a park bench?
  4. Build relationships with people who share your interest in collections of antique, tools or other items.  Then you can pass along your collections to people who will appreciate them and remember you.
  5. Don’t wait until you’re gone.  Consider donating collections to museums or giving personal possessions that you value but don’t necessarily use to someone who would appreciate them.

For more information about estate planning, go to www.diesmart.com.

Who has your healthcare power of attorney?

A healthcare power of attorney is the document where you name the person who will make medical decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so.  Equally as important as having this document is telling your family who it is and why.

A legal battle started a short while ago disputing whether Sumner Redstone,  the 92 year old titular leader of both CBS and Viacom (who earned a combined $24 million in compensation from the companies in fiscal 2014), still has the mental capacity to make informed decisions.

The suit was brought by Manuela Herzer, a former companion to Mr. Redstone.  The two dated between 1999 and 2001 and, according to her, still maintain a close relationship.  She was legally designated as the person to make Mr. Redstone’s medical decisions.  However, in October, new documents were executed that stripped her of this power and named, instead, Phillippe Dauman, Redstone’s longtime lawyer and CEO of Viacom.  In court filings, Ms. Herzer claims that Mr. Redstone does not have adequate mental capacity to replace her and has asked the court to make him undergo a medical evaluation to prove her point.

Most of us don’t earn $24 million dollars in one year and don’t have the kind of net worth of Sumner Redstone.  However, the point is still as valid for you and me as it is for him.  If you make changes in your healthcare power of attorney or other legal documents that relate to who can make decisions on your behalf, it’s a good idea to tell those involved so they will be aware of what you’ve done and why.

For more information about a healthcare power of attorney and other estate planning documents, go to www.diesmart.com.