Who Gets the Assets if Your Spouse Dies Without a Will? You Might be Surprised.

The financial planner thought he knew everything.  And with that confidence, he downloaded a form will. It wasn’t a bad will, actually. But he made one enormous mistake: he didn’t sign it right.

So when he died, his wife went to an attorney to find out how she would collect everything. She got a shock: she wasn’t going to. The will was useless. Void. Non-existent. Consequently, the law says that she and the child had to split the assets. The scorecard: Child: 50%. Mother 50%. Game, set, match.

Would it matter if it was his child, and not their child? Not a whit. Could they fudge the distribution? Nope.

What if parent and child didn’t get along? Doesn’t matter. They were chained legally to 50% each. They may not have spoken in years . . . but now they sure were going to.

The key: if the once-good will is not good now, or if there’s no will, then the spouse and the children divide the estate assets equally.  Read more

Asset Protection ABC’s

Lawsuits are filed for all sorts of reasons. (For some really bad reasons, check out www.StellaAwards.com, which is named for the woman who sued McDonalds over that hot coffee.) Unexpected things also happen, and sometimes they lead to suits. And people in affluent areas are easy targets to blame . . . and sue. So how do you hedge the bet? I can wait, right? Won’t my liability insurance protect me?

Maybe. It’s great to have coverage, so the insurance company’s lawyers come in to handle when you’re sued and the insurance can cover any damages.

But what if you’re sued for something which isn’t a covered risk? Read more

Protecting Your Aging Parents’ Assets

On the magazine cover, the cute but worried dog was staring at a man’s hand.  The hand was holding a gun to the dog’s head. The cover caption: “If You Don’t Buy This Magazine, We’ll Kill This Dog.”

This is not exactly a case of undue influence. Nobody has you in a chokehold, nobody is threatening to lop off your fingers one at a time, saying “Sign this or else!”  That’s what undue influence is usually about.

Aging adults, however, sometimes face the pressures of a different undue influence: being manipulated when they have diminished mental capacity. Who’s doing it? People – often relatives — who seek influence and financial control over the aged adult as well as financial benefit for themselves.   Read more

Your Documents Are Only Good if People Can Find Them. Just ask Jack.

This is the House that Jack left.

This is the basement, dingy and dark
In the house that Jack left.

This is the chest, so rarely opened,
Covered by carpets and dust and webs
In that basement, dingy and dark
In the house that Jack left.   Read more