The FAQ’s of Estate Planning #1: Do I Need a Will?

Our Attorneys routinely advise clients in their estate and trust planning.  As we have met with those clients over the years, we have frequently been asked some basic questions about estate planning and thought that you might benefit from the answers that we usually give to those questions.

The most frequent question that we are asked is “Do I Need a Will?”

The Answer:  Yes.  Whether you have a large estate or a very small estate, you should have a Will.  The Will allows you to decide who will receive your property after your death (family member, friend, or charity), but it also allows you to designate the person that you want to wrap up your affairs when you are gone.  Likewise, it allows you to designate guardians for your minor children and/or place money in trust for your minor children in the event that you passed away before they were adults.

Romney’s Tax Plan

With the 2012 Presidential election just around the corner, many questions concerning Mitt Romney’s policies are being discussed.  One of those of issues is the estate tax provisions that are set to expire on December 31, 2012.  Under the existing law, the estate tax exemption will decrease to $1 million on January 1, 2013, from the current $5 million for 2012.

Mitt Romney has said that he would eliminate the estate tax all together.  Obviously, President Romney would have to work with Congress to pass legislation eliminating the estate tax, but Romney’s proposal of eliminating the estate tax completely is one that resonates with many business owners who risk losing portions of their business to estate taxes when the older generation of a family dies and leaves the business to a younger generation.

Because it might be tough to convince both houses of Congress to eliminate the estate tax completely, Romney, if elected, would likely push to keep the current exemption amount at $5,000,000, or even increase the exemption amount.  Additionally, Romney would likely keep the estate tax rate at 35 percent, or possibly lower to the rate.

If you have questions concerning the estate tax, feel free to contact Ford + Mathiason LLP and schedule a consultation to discuss your estate planning options.

Celebrity Guardianships in the News

As we reported shortly after Michael Jackson’s death, Jackson’s mother was appointed as the guardians of his three children.  Recently, the celebrity gossip shows have wildly reported the fact that Katherine Jackson, Michael’s mother, “disappeared” and left the children unattended.  As a result, the court overseeing the guardianship of the three children has recently appointed Katherine and her grandson TJ Jackson as co-guardians over Michael Jackson’s three children, despite the objections of other family members Debra and Anthony Jackson.

The children’s grandmother had been serving as their Guardian, until a number of bizarre events resulted in her checking into an Arizona resort.  She was out of contact with the children since she moved to Arizona.  In light of her departure from California, the Judge was forced to name Katherine and TJ as temporary guardians over the children’s estates.

At the hearing, Debra and Anthony Jackson requested the Court not appoint Katherine and TJ as permanent guardians.  Debra claimed that Michael had concerns regarding “certain people’s influences” over his children.  The Judge rebuked Debra’s claims citing an extensive investigation conducted by the Court.  Additionally, during the hearing it was revealed that both Debra and Anthony Jackson had been asked by the children to leave a party for Prince Jackson, one of Michael’s children.  All of the children stated that they were satisfied with the outcome of the hearing.

Guardianship litigation is a stressful situation.  The attorneys at Ford + Mathiason LLP are experienced in all facets of guardianship litigation, and it is this experience allows our attorneys to alleviate the client’s stress.  If you have questions or concerns regarding a guardianship issue, please contact our office.