Month: January 2018

How a Life Estate Deed can Help You Transfer Property but Stay in Your Home

When it comes time to plan your estate, there are many way to pass on real estate to avoid paying costly expenses. One transfer method with tax advantages that may work for some folks is known as the estate deed. Essentially, an estate deed allows you to transfer your home to beneficiaries but still live there and avoid estate taxes and the probate process.

When you create a life estate, you will own the property along with whomever you designate as a beneficiary. The person living in the home is known as the “life tenant” and has exclusive rights to the property during his or her lifetime. The life tenant can be one person or individuals with joint tenancy, like a husband and wife. It is important to note that the life tenant has the responsibility to maintain the property, pay taxes, and retain insurance on the dwelling.

What is a Living Will?

Estate planning covers more than just creating a last will and testament to distribute your assets upon passing away. While none of us expects to find ourselves in a situation in which we cannot dictate the terms of our medical treatment in an end-of-life situation, we should nonetheless be prepared for situations like these and give guidance to or families on what to do when difficult decisions need to be made.

One document vital to these important health care decisions is a living will, which is not the same as a durable power of attorney that designates an agent to make choices on your behalf. These documents are two sides to a coin that your loved ones will need to instruct doctors on what to do should you be unable to speak for yourself in situations like being placed on a ventilator, a feeding tube, or being in a persistent vegetative state.

Wisconsin Man, Penpal Fight Over Manson Estate

A Wisconsin man who claims that notorious California cult leader Charles Manson, who orchestrated the gruesome Manson Family murders in the 1960s, was his biological grandfather recently filed paperwork challenging a will Manson allegedly wrote giving his estate to a long-time penpal. The legal moves could set up months of courtroom sparring between the two sides and potentially other biological heirs who Manson allegedly disinherited from his estate in the will produced by the California penpal.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge will first have to rule on the appropriate venue to hear the challenges over the estate, including who would be entitled to Manson’s property, money, image, and song catalogue. Manson died at a hospital in Kern County in November but was incarcerated in Corcoran State Prison in neighboring Kings County. His supposed heir believes Los Angeles to be the proper venue to hear the probate proceedings as Manson lived there before he was imprisoned for orchestrating the 1969 killings of pregnant actress Sharon Tate and eight other people.

In the will produced by the man who befriended Manson, the deceased specifically disinherited two known sons and any other unknown children but left the penpal all the rights to the estate and his body. It is believed Manson specifically asked the willholder to find burial arrangements alternative to that of the cremation process California state prisons take if an inmate dies without a party to accept responsibility for the deceased’s burial.

Value of Manson Estate Remains Unclear as Deadlines to Challenge Will Draw Near

Under California state law, any surviving heirs or other interested parties will have 120 days from the will’s filing to contest the estate and possibly make claims to Manson’s likeness and song catalogue, the latter of which has only been sparsely used. While acts like The Beach Boys and Guns N Roses have recorded versions of Manson’s songs, proceeds to some of those numbers have gone to the families of victim’s slain in the Sharon Tate murders.

While media reports indicate that there are potentially other interested parties expected to join in contesting the two-page last will and testament, it remains unclear just what the value of the estate may be or what the motivations are for such legal moves. Manson spent his last 45 years in jail after sending followers known as the “Manson Family” to commit gruesome murders. In the summer of 1969 when he directed his mostly young, female-followers to murder seven people, including director Roman Polanski’s wife Sharon Tate

Madison Trust and Estate Lawyers

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of probate, wills, estate planning, and trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

Do Not Forget to Update Your Retirement Account Beneficiaries

Reviewing your estate plan and updating the beneficiaries on your retirement accounts is important anytime you have a major life change. A last will and testament does not generally cover who will receive the benefits from your retirement accounts when you pass away, which makes review and revision all the more important when necessary.

Some of the most important times to update your retirement accounts include after a divorce, remarriage, and having children. Other examples of when you will need to revise the beneficiaries on your retirement account could be if you have designated a charity to receive your benefits and it is no longer solvent. In either case, it can be especially difficult for heirs to challenge the designation in court and recover what should be theirs.

Should you fail to designate a beneficiary altogether or that individual passes away before you do, your beneficiary may be determined by state law or the provision that governs your account. Federal regulations govern profit-sharing plans, 401(k)s, and money purchase pension plans and will automatically go to your spouse if you are married. Unless your spouse signs and notarize a document stating otherwise, no one else may be designated as a beneficiary for these types of accounts.

Wisconsin state law, on the other hand, governs IRAs and like federal law, requires a written and notarized document from the spouse to pass the benefits on to another heir. IRAs also predesignate another beneficiary should the primary one predecease the policyholder so these documents should be reviewed and updated whenever life changes occur.

Most spouses name each other as the primary beneficiaries of their retirement accounts assuming one will pass away before the other, but do not always consider catastrophic cases of simultaneous death. In these cases, state law may decide one spouse became deceased before the other and create issues should the couple have children from separate marriages.

When reviewing and updating the beneficiaries to your retirement accounts, some of the important aspects to consider are the default provisions of the document governing your retirement account, tax implications, and making sure to request a confirmation of receipt of the designation from your retirement account trustee. By periodically taking time to review and revise estate planning documents, we can ensure that our intentions are carried out as we intended them and not left to probate courts that may have to make decisions contrary to what we would have expected.

Frankly, we feel the best solution is the creation of a Retirement Plan Trust.  To understand the possibilities protection and pitfalls improper administration it is well worth your time to learn about why we have created this incredible tool.

Madison Trust and Estate Lawyers

The estate lawyers of Krause Donovan Estate Law Partners, LLC practice law in the areas of Probate, Wills, Estate Planning, and Trusts. We assist clients in and around Madison, Wisconsin with all matters related to estate planning, trusts, and probate matters. Our dedicated attorneys will even make house calls if you are unable to come to our office.

Contact our office by calling (608) 268-5751 to schedule a consultation or use our online contact form.

Scroll to Top