Tag Archives: estate plan

50% of Prince’s estate value goes to pay estate taxes

PrinceYesterday, Prince’s estate had to file an estate tax payment plan.  Since his estate was valued at about $200 million, the taxes are expected to be about half of that – 40% to the federal government and 16% to the state of Minnesota.  Allowable deductions and exclusions will reduce that amount to 50%.

If Prince had an estate plan with trusts to benefit relatives and charities he chose, the amount of taxes due would have been very low.  Instead, only about 50% will go to his six siblings and the government will take the rest.

Prince’s estate didn’t have to actually have to pay the entire $100 million yesterday; it can make payments over time.  That’s a good thing since Prince’s estate isn’t very liquid.  There are many entertainment assets which are still being valued and it can take a long time since their actual worth will be determined.

It’s not clear whether the IRS and Prince’s estate will agree on the value of his music catalog; it’s difficult to put a dollar value on this kind of asset.  The estate can learn from the experience of Michael Jackson’s estate.  He died in 2009 and yet his estate is still not settled.  The tax case will go on trial in Los Angeles next month where there will be a dispute about more than $700 million in taxes, interest and penalties.

You probably aren’t worth this kind of money but even if your estate is only worth a few hundred thousand dollars, you should still have an estate plan.  It will make it much easier for your heirs and will enable them, rather than the government, to share in the total value of your estate.

For more information about estate planning, go to our website https://www.diesmart.com.

Where does your Pokemon go after you die?

PokemonEveryone today has several online account and is part of the digital world.  Are you one of the millions of people playing Pokemon?  Are you using real US dollars to make in-game purchases?  Do you place a real value on your game progress?

Well what happens to your account when you die?  According to a recent Forbes article, if you have online accounts for things like Pokemon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Gmail,  the answer is not a simple one.

First  you need to look at federal and state law.  At the federal level, there isn’t any direct authority related to digital assets.  At the state level, some states have enacted legislation to allow an estate’s executor to gain access to some digital assets upon the death of their owner.  However, this legislation does not extend to all 50 states and is not totally consistent in its direction.

Once digital assets are treated more like physical assets, then your will, trust or state succession laws will determine how these accounts are transferred.  However, you may not want all of these assets transferred; you may want them deleted on your death.  For example, you may not want your spouse to read all of your emails or private Facebook messages.  You will need to indicate your wishes in your estate plan.

If you have online accounts at places like Home Depot or Lowes, you may want to direct your executor to pay any outstanding balance and then delete that account so that it can’t be hacked.

Have you read the service agreements that you clicked “okay” for when you signed onto Pokemon Go or Facebook or Gmail.  They put restrictions on your ability to share passwords or to transfer the account.  “In fact, Pokemon Go’s contract gives you a ‘limited nonexclusive, nontransferable, non-sublicensable license to the application.”  What this means is that when you die, your Pokemon Go account is dead as well.

As you can see, online accounts are governed by documents as well as state laws.  You need to carefully read the agreements that you “sign” so you can understand what you really have….or don’t.  When you prepare your estate plan, make sure that you include a list of the names of all of your online accounts, their passwords and usernames so your family can access your accounts when you die.  Develop a plan for the disposition of those accounts when you die.  It is an important part of any estate plan.

For more information about your digital estate, check out our book, Access Denied: Why Your Passwords Are Now As Important As Your Will.

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.

An important holiday gift

present-clipart-Present-Clip-Art-932As we approach the end of another year, it’s a good time to have an important discussion with your family and other loved ones about what will happen when you die. It may be uncomfortable but it’s a gift you should give them before any more time passes.

You should tell them about your estate plan – not necessarily all of the details but where it can be found, that it is up to date and who you have named as your executor. The estate plan should, at a minimum, include your will and your advanced directive; it might also include a trust, a healthcare proxy and a durable power of attorney. You should reassure them that the plan is current and reflects your wishes at the present time. (If it doesn’t, you should get it updated immediately.)

Another critical thing you should discuss is your digital assets. If you pay your bills and conduct other financial transactions online, your executor should be able to access your accounts. The only way to ensure that this is possible is if you leave a list of your passwords for all of them.

You should make sure they know about any accounts that have beneficiary designations and that those designations are up to date. Otherwise, someone who is no longer in your life may inherit from those accounts rather than the person you really want the funds to go to.

Finally, you should discuss with your family and other loved ones your end of life care wishes. It’s not a pleasant topic but you should not burden them with having to make decisions which may not agree with what you would have wanted.

This is an important holiday gift that you should give to your loved ones this year.

For more information about making a digital asset inventory and other end of life decisions, go to www.diesmart.com.