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Welcome Prince George of Cambridge—Is Your Parents’ Estate Planning Up to Date?

baby-cambridge-1-660On July 22, 2013, the question everyone wanted answered, boy or girl, was answered when Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to the royal baby, a baby boy, who is now third in line to the throne, after his grandfather, Prince Charles, and his father, Prince William.

On July 24, the next question everyone wanted answered, what’s his name, was answered with the announcement that the baby prince’s name is George Alexander Louis, and that he will be known as Prince George of Cambridge.

Now, the question that we’re sure is burning in everyone’s mind is, are Will’s and Kate’s estate planning documents up-to-date so that Prince George will be properly taken care of in the event something happens to his parents?

James Gandolfini’s Death Will Bring in Money to IRS and NYS

James Gandolfini’s Death Will Bring in Money to IRS and NYS

July 10, 2013

Authored by: Stacie J. Rottenstreich and Karin Barkhorn

Gandolfini

The terms of James Gandolfini’s December 2012 Last Will and Testament were made public last week when it was filed in New York County Surrogate’s Court. There are a series of specific bequests to his teenage son by his first marriage and some friends and relatives, but the bulk of his probate assets is disposed of as his “residuary estate” and is divided among his sisters, his wife and his baby daughter.

The tax clause of his Will directs that all estate taxes are to be paid from his residuary estate. What does that mean to his beneficiaries? And what does that mean to the IRS and to the NYS Department of Taxation and Finance? Only the 20% of the estate that passes to James Gandolfini’s widow will qualify for the Federal

Mission: Possible — Saving Estate Taxes on Life Insurance

Since Tom is back in the news this week, and because I finally watched Ghost Protocol this weekend, I thought I’d re-post this November 2011 blog on Tom Cruise’s possible use of life insurance in his estate planning.  Keep in mind, based on any divorce settlement agreement he reaches with Katie Holmes, Tom’s need to maintain life insurance may change.

When I first saw this video of Tom Cruise performing his own stunts on the outside the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (the tallest building in the world), a mile and a half above the earth, for the movie Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol (aka Mission: Impossible IV),  my first thought was, “Wow, how much life insurance do you think he has?”  My next thought was “Think of the estate taxes his estate will have to pay on those life insurance proceeds if the life insurance isn’t held in a proper

Where Facebook and Estate Planning Collide

As Facebook prepares to go public on Friday, many news articles, such as this Forbes article, have discussed the fact that Facebook co-founders Mark Zuckerberg and Dustin Moskovitz have funded annuity trusts, most likely Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts (GRATs), with Facebook stock.  This stock is set to increase exponentially in value with the IPO takes place on May 18.  If these annuity trusts are, in fact, GRATs, they may be transferring millions of dollars worth of Facebook stock to their beneficiaries, potentially free of any transfer tax.

For more information on the benefits of planning with Grantor Retained Annuity Trusts, see our September post by Justin Flach and Doug Stanley, GRAT Planning in a Down Market.

Girlfriends Come and Go, but Daughters are Forever: the Case for Adult Adoption

With guest co-blogger Melissa Fernley.

Last month, prominent businessman and Florida socialite John Goodman filed a petition to adopt…his girlfriend. This unconventional move, coupled with Goodman’s notoriety as the multimillionaire founder of the International Polo Club Palm Beach, prompted news outlets around the world to pick up the story. The public responded with more than a few raised eyebrows, and many questions. Is this even possible? Is their relationship now incestuous? Why would someone do such a thing?

Yes, adult adoption is possible, and is allowed in many states across the country, including Missouri, although a few states require some sort of previous familial relationship. The result of such adoptions is not a traditional parent-child relationship, but rather a legal relationship that creates the same rights and responsibilities as would the adoption of a child. Adopted adults also become heirs of the adopting parent, although some states restrict the extent

A Will Is Not Enough: An Estate Planning Lesson from Whitney Houston’s Passing

A recent Forbes.com article speculates that Whitney Houston’s estate will be worth anywhere between $10 and $20 million, or more. However, throughout her career, Houston has signed $100 million record deals and $10 million movie contracts for her roles in Blockbuster hits such as “The Bodyguard” and “The Preacher’s Wife.” Houston also completed the filming of “Sparkle” which is scheduled to be released in September of this year. Surely, with sound marketing, branding of Houston’s image, and increased record sales, her estate can bring in millions more in the upcoming years. Zach Greenburg, Forbes writer, said although Whitney Houston may not match Michael Jackson’s postmortem earnings, her artist royalties alone could bring the estate more than $10 million in the next year. Here’s an

‘Tis the Season . . . for Engagements

Maybe it is all the time spent with friends and family, or the spirit of giving, or maybe it’s just all the mistletoe, but whatever the reason, the few months from Thanksgiving through Valentines Day always seem to be filled with engagements. As all of these happy couples begin to plan their weddings, and their lives together, many spend more time thinking about the band, picking out the perfect cake or looking for that perfect starter home than they do preparing for what may happen if things unravel down the road. Unfortunately, today the odds are not in favor of happily ever after.

Divorce is a difficult reality that many couples will eventually face. Entering into a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle can protect both

Joe Paterno Transfers His Interest in His House to His Wife for $1: Legitimate or Not?

The Penn State scandal has dominated media headlines in recent weeks.  While the vast majority of the coverage has been directed toward the alleged criminal acts and potential cover-ups, there has been a fair amount of buzz surrounding Joe Paterno’s July 2011 transfer of his entire interest in his home to his wife for $1.  Many have speculated that Joe Paterno had no legitimate reason to transfer sole ownership of the house to his wife, and that he must be trying to shield assets from potential civil litigation.  While I will not speculate as to Joe Paterno’s rationale for making such a transfer, I believe it is incorrect to take the position that there is no legitimate reason for doing so.  In many instances, spouses can reduce their potential estate tax burden by making inter-spousal transfers of assets.

The following is a simple example of how an inter-spousal transfer can

Why Do I Need a Will? (Part II)

Why Do I Need a Will? (Part II)

August 12, 2011

Authored by: Kim Civins

(Please click here to see Part I of this series, entitled:  “Why Do I Need a Will?”)

If you divorce, you may need a Will (or an update to your existing Will) to prevent your ex-spouse from receiving assets at your death.

Here is a follow up to my post earlier this week.  In this recent article posted at AOL’s DailyFinance site, the author discusses the contents of Amy Winehouse’s U.K. Will.  The late Amy Winehouse had an ex-spouse, and the author mentions that English law may allow an ex-spouse to receive property bequeathed to him or her under their former (now deceased) spouse’s Will even if the divorce occurred after the Will’s execution.  This Forbes.com article implies that even if she had died without a Will at all, English law may look favorably upon an ex-spouse’s position and allow them to inherit.  Fortunately for Winehouse’s parents and brother, she

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished?

When Christian Lopez caught Derek Jeter’s historic 3,000th hit on July 9, he most likely thought that he was just being a nice guy by giving it back to the Yankee shortstop. In that moment, Lopez probably didn’t realize that his incredibly selfless gesture could lead to potentially negative tax consequences.

Did Lopez give the ball to Jeter as a gift? That could mean that Lopez made a taxable gift equal to the fair market value of the ball. How much is that ball actually worth? Fair market value is defined as the price a willing buyer would pay a willing seller for the ball. You can buy an official Rawlings MLB baseball on amazon.com for $17.30. Chump change. However, some people are estimating that Lopez could have sold Jeter’s ball for up to $250,000. Now we’re talking

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