James Brown’s Estate Settles For Sale Of $90 Million

Owning a lot of assets presents unique estate planning challenges, a lesson that has left many potential heirs of celebrity estates with more questions than answers in recent years.

James Brown, like many other celebrities who have become the subject of recent study, did not complete his estate planning prior to passing away. It was estimated that his estate was worth more than $100 million, but a vague will created many different problems. After a very expensive 15 year legal battle, the surviving heirs sold the value of the estate for $90 million to a company called Primary Wave Music. Multiple people, including five of James Brown’s children, have been fighting in probate court to get control of the estate over the 15 year period. Before any money can be paid out of the estate, all lawsuits must be settled and decided between former and current executors of the estate.

From Whitney Houston to Prince and Michael Jackson and Luther Van Ross, many celebrities with substantial net worth have failed to incorporate even the most basic of estate planning strategies that would have made things easier for their heirs.

Even if you have a smaller estate, you can help prevent delays in the transition of your assets to your heirs and reduce the possibility of estate planning conflict. The best way to do this is to work directly with an estate planning lawyer for the drafting of your own documents.

If you want to avoid problematic situations, schedule a consultation with an experienced and knowledgeable estate planning attorney in VA to discuss your next steps.


Should Tangible Personal Property Go into a Revocable Trust?

Many different kinds of assets can be appropriately placed inside a revocable trust in order to provide control, flexibility and privacy for how those assets are transferred to beneficiaries.

Tangible personal property such as clothing, jewelry, personal papers, computers, books and household goods can be included in trusts, but might be more appropriate as part of a pour over will. In a pour over will, your executor will transfer personal property such as a vehicle into your trust at the time of your death.

This means that transferring into a revocable trust might still require probate, but it greatly simplifies the probate process if there are just a few assets moving into your trust. In some states, bear in mind that a motor vehicle in an individual’s name cannot be transferred without going through probate.

Make sure that you carefully consider some of the unique prospects involved in your personal estate planning strategy. The support of an estate planning attorney is instrumental in helping to recognize some of the core issues in transferring your own estate and in recommending the best kinds of strategies aligned with your personal needs. You may use some combination of a will, a living trust and other estate planning tools to accomplish your goals and to protect your primary interests.

When you meet directly with a Virginia Beach, Virginia estate planning attorney, you can determine which strategies and documents align best with your personal estate planning goals. This makes it much easier to determine your next steps.


How Does an Executor Gather Assets?

Before an executor can serve in their future duties as personal representative for a deceased person’s estate, they must begin by inventorying all assets. Identifying all assets that belong to the decedents and safekeeping them if necessary are two important components of serving as a personal representative.

Safekeeping is especially important if the decedent left behind any assets that could be targeted by thieves. Part of this process, especially if you are not familiar with the belongings of the decedent, could be an actual hunt for assets, such as spending time tracking down insurance policies, safe deposit boxes or financial accounts. Usually an interview with family members and a search through all documents belonging to the deceased is necessary.

Some of these assets could be mentioned in the decedent’s will but the executor cannot stop there and it is dangerous to assume that the only assets belonging to the decedent are those named outright in the will. Once the executor has gathered this material, they then must maintain the assets that require any upkeep. For example, insurance policies maintained by the decedent should not lapse at this point in time.

There is one key way to pay for these ongoing benefits during this temporary period which is to use the estate’s money. No survivors are responsible for paying out of pocket costs for a deceased’s estate.

The more estate planning work you do in advance for your loved ones, the easier it will be for the personal representative to close out your Virginia estate. You can discuss your planning with them or leave detailed instructions and documents for that executor

For more information about naming a personal representative for your estate in Virginia, set aside time to speak with an experienced estate planning lawyer today.



Why Is a Date of Death Value So Important for Your Estate Plan?

When you pass away, the individual appointed as your personal representative is responsible for handling many different tasks in closing out your estate. One of these includes getting date of death values for all property inside a trust or in your estate. This is true and required even if only one person will inherit everything inside your estate.

In a Virginia estate, the chosen personal representative essentially becomes the custodian of this property. During the probate process, it’s managed by the personal representative and kept safe or invested until it becomes time to pass this on to pay off creditors or to distribute to estate beneficiaries.

If you sell the assets shortly after this person passes away, you would be able to use the sale value as the date of death value. Without a sale on the horizon, however, the executor is responsible for getting those assets appraised by an expert. There are four primary reasons why date of death value is so important.

These are for purposes of determining estate taxes, identifying the new tax basis for beneficiaries receiving the asset, qualifying for small estate status or splitting the estate, such as in situations in which a will calls for beneficiaries to equally share assets.

In all of these circumstances, it is important to engage the services of an appraiser. Working with a brokerage account manager is more complicated because many people reinvest their earned dividends. This means the number of shares that they would own could potentially change every single month and this would require a call into the brokerage to verify. For unique items, look for someone to assist you from the Appraisers’ Association of America or the American Society of Appraisers.

Need help with your Virginia Beach, VA estate? Reach out today for a meeting.


Study Shows that Some of America’s Wealthiest People Are Ready to Transfer Their Assets

The tax overhaul from 2017 has prompted many people to rethink their overall estate and tax strategies. The coronavirus pandemic has also made it easier for some of America’s wealthiest families to pass on assets to their grandchildren and children tax free. Volatile markets and plunging interest rates have created a unique opportunity just keeping plenty of financial advisors and estate planners busy.

Some of the ways that wealthy families are taking advantage of this current market is to loan assets or cash to other family members. This means that heirs are eligible to borrow up to millions of dollars and then reinvest that money in profit for many upsides. Many beneficiaries today would be eligible to lock in extremely low rates for years or even decades.

Other estate planning strategies, such as those that relay on loans to trusts are also extremely popular. The advantage of these techniques is that they don’t eat into the gift tax exemption for 2020. Many wealthy families are scheduling consultations with their estate planning lawyers to discuss grantor retained annuity trusts which enables beneficiaries to profit from future investment gains with minimal or no risk of losing money.

Our office is here to help- are you concerned with the most effective strategies to pass on your wealth to the next generation? We can advise you about next steps so you know what to expect. Contact our Virginia Beach office today.



Should You Give All of Your Assets to Your Adult Child?

Deciding whether or not to gift something over the course of your life or to pass it on once you are no longer around is an important decision, especially with regard to the federal gift tax. Every person can gift up to $15000 per year free of gift tax. This means that you do not have to file a gift tax return and that no taxes have to be paid on that amount.

Very few Americans will have to worry about the estate tax given the current exemption amount. But passing everything on to one child can be an extreme choice and could have risks that you might not know about.

First of all, this means that one child will own everything, and this was passed on while you were still alive. You as an individual or as a couple could become financially dependent on them for everything that your current income stream does not cover.

If your loved one receives all of your assets but changes their mind about taking care of you, there is nothing you can do about it. Furthermore, if your child goes bankrupt, divorces or dies, the money could also be lost. Consider any potential and capital gains tax implications in making any transfers and decide with the assistance of an experienced and trusted lawyer the most appropriate course of action.

With all that should be considered in passing on assets, turning to a trusted Virginia Beach estate planning law firm helps you pin down all the details and leave behind a thought-out plan for your loved ones.


Not Married? You Still Need an Estate Plan

As an unmarried couple, you might assume that you don’t have as much at stake if something were to happen to you or your partner. Whether you’ve legally tied the knot or not, you still need to think about how to protect yourself and your loved ones.

Adding children to your family is certainly an excellent opportunity to revisit and revise your estate planning tools and documents, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t neglect the process of estate planning now while you have the opportunity.

Many different estate planning tools and strategies can be used while you are still alive. Some of the most important relate to empowering someone else to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. A financial or medical power of attorney authorizes another agent acting for you to make these decisions if you become incapacitated and cannot render them on your own.

These documents can be instrumental for you to have if you have specific wishes or intentions so that you can discuss these with your spouse, or any other person appointed as your power of attorney agent. Furthermore, unmarried couples can benefit from estate planning in terms of a discussion about who will receive your assets if you pass away. Unmarried partners, however, do not benefit from the same laws that protect married partners.

There are laws in place to protect spouses and couples where at least one person has failed to plan properly. But this does not mean that these same protections extend to unmarried couples. From beneficiary designations to a durable power of attorney to joint ownership; there are many different options available to unmarried couples that should be discussed with a Virginia Beach estate planning lawyer.