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Articles Tagged with wills

By Elizabeth J. McKinney, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

woman-hand-smartphone-desk-pexelsWhen someone dies, there’s lots to do. It’s not quite as hurried as most think it is, but usually, within a week of the funeral, the heirs are starting the process of handling all of the paperwork that needs to be handled.

You can make this all much easier by getting together a packet of information for the executor of your estate and the attorney and professional advisor who has worked with you in making your estate plans. It’s best to start this process long before you think you need to do so, and to let your friends and family know where the documents are.

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By Elizabeth McKinney
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

DeathtoStock_Wired4Most people don’t give much thought to who will be their estate executor. Often, the automatic choice is a spouse or a child. The person chosen is often the person closest to the person creating the will.

But this isn’t always the best strategy. As we know, and you have no doubt seen at some point in your life, emotions run high after a death, and items that were near and dear to the decedent’s heart become prized possessions, and sometimes, those items are worth a lot of money. A prized piece of art may have much more than sentimental value.

The executor of your estate may not be prepared to deal with all of these emotions, and if they’re someone close to you, they may find that they’re processing their own grief while trying to meet the demands of friends and family waiting to receive inherited items or money.

This is why we recommend that those creating a will take a long, hard, objective look at who they choose as the executor of their estate and really examine if the person they’ve chosen is capable of carrying out your wishes without creating long-term problems for your family and friends.

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By Elizabeth McKinney, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

wills and trustsMany people believe that if you have a will, that document controls who receives every asset you own. But that’s not necessarily true. A will or other similar documents, such a trust, can dictate who gets most assets, but beneficiary designations for certain assets, such as 401(k)s and life insurance, as well as transfer on death or payable on death designations on bank or brokerage accounts, supersede that. Those accounts should be reviewed periodically, but particularly after a major life change such as a death or a divorce.

For example, if you change your will to indicate your new spouse should receive your assets after your death, as you probably should, but you didn’t change the beneficiary for your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), your ex could end up with the proceeds of that account, much to the surprise of your new spouse.  Most people set up those accounts and never revisit the information attached to it, which is where problems come in.

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marital status estateBy Nathan Vinson, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Facebook has a neat little box that you can check to indicate your relationship status. There are some options that are clear cut – or at least seem to be: married, divorced, single. There’s another option that’s becoming more popular as of late called “it’s complicated.” It’s a handy box to check when life is messy.

Unfortunately, though, there’s no “it’s complicated” box to check in legal documents. In the eyes of the law, you’re either single, legally separated or married. There’s no in-between for marital status.

The lives of Luther and Shirley Mills definitely fell under the “it’s complicated” category, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on whether or not the couple was legally married at the time of Luther’s death. At stake was Luther’s estate.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney 
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

just married photoAs early as 2000, states began grappling with the issue of same sex marriage. Some states allowed unions. Some allowed marriage. Some didn’t allow either. Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, all states must allow and recognize same sex marriages. So moving forward, what happens at tax time if you’re married in one state but live in a state that previously didn’t recognize same sex marriages?

The American Bar Association offered an online Continuing Legal Education seminar by attorneys Patricia Cain and George Karibjanian recently to help tax attorneys sort through some of the more difficult legal issues surrounding same sex marriage.

It’s been a mess, frankly, for same sex couples.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

oopsIn fundraising and higher education circles, the imminent closure of Sweet Briar College in rural Central Virginia has been much-discussed. This small, women-only college has existed for nearly a century and has educated generations of women. But enrollment has declined and school’s board of trustees announced that this year’s graduating class in May will be its last.

One alumnae, Teresa Tomlinson, the mayor of Columbus, Georgia, noted that she had told college officials she was going to leave $1 million to Sweet Briar in her estate, and they greeted her news graciously and pleasantly, full of thank you’s and personal notes — and then announced two weeks later the school was closing. The mayor said she was baffled why school officials didn’t disclose this to her when she told them about the gift.

Even if the school changes course again and decides to remain open, those who were going to leave money to the college are probably going to be reluctant to do so again. But what would happen if Sweet Briar College was to receive a gift but then the college closed and the will could not be changed?

This happens from time to time with colleges, non-profits and other organizations that are likely to receive bequests from alumni and supporters. The foundation you wanted to support could have merged, changed its goals, re-branded as something else entirely or simply shut its doors. Then what?

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Broken Heart by Prawny on MorgueFileHardly anyone goes through the process of putting together a comprehensive estate plan with the intentions of getting divorced from their current spouse thereafter. It is, however, a fact of life that becomes reality for a large portion of society. Divorce can affect more than just a person’s emotions and wallet. Here is a brief overview of the effect of divorce on your estate plan.

The Will

In Kentucky, a divorce or annulled marriage “revokes any disposition or appointment of property made by the will to the former spouse, any provision conferring a general or special power of appointment on the former spouse, and any nomination of the former spouse as executor, trustee, conservator or guardian, unless the will expressly provides otherwise.”  KRS 394.092.  The statute goes on to provide that property that would have passed to the former spouse by will now passes as if the former spouse predeceased the decedent.  Put simply, Kentucky law basically “removes” the former spouse from your will, unless you expressly provide otherwise.

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Morguefile photo by Ricorocks

Having a child can be exciting (and stressful).  Probably the last thing you might think to do when having a child is to update an estate plan, but it’s absolutely necessary.  Here are 6 things to consider when you have a child.

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