Ever since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade a few weeks ago, questions have arisen about many other rights that have been established by the Supreme Court over the past fifty years, because of legal reasoning that may be similar to the principles that were overturned in this new decision.
A client approached me last week for help with a Trust. The first problem, before I even read the document, was that he didn’t have the document. This has happened a number of times before, and - as you might imagine - it's a problem.
It's Nobody's Business but Yours Here’s a bit of advice: when you write a will, or a trust, or any other document where you’re naming beneficiaries who will receive any of your assets after death, keep it to yourself. It’s your private information. The one exception is if you're leaving assets to a charitable organization: in that case go ahead and tell them. They will treat you really nicely invite you to dinners and stuff like that. But if you’re naming any of your family members, or any of your friends, or your housekeeper, don’t go around telling them. They will never relate to you the same way again. It’s much better to keep quiet about it and let them be very pleasantly surprised after you’re gone. Because if you ever change your mind, then they will be very unpleasantly surprised. And you don’t want people thinking badly of you after you’re gone. You also don’t want people fighting over your estate or making it difficult to settle your estate. Things Change Over Time This is not some sort of abstract hypothetical situation that I’m describing. It happens all the time. The most common changes that I make for clients when they come back to me after a few years are changes to the people they name as beneficiaries or executors. Relationships change over time. The person who you’re close to now me not be at the center of your life later on. You Want a Smooth Estate Process, Not a Contentious One Sometimes people make several changes to their wills close to the end of their lives. You might make a number of changes as you get older. And if you do, the people who have long expected to receive assets from you may become angry, aggressive, or litigious when they find out that they have been excluded from your final will. They may start asking whether your mental state was slipping. They may start asking whether somebody else had influenced you in properly in the drafting of your revised document. All of this is the sort of thing that can make estates difficult expensive slow and ugly, rather than being smooth and orderly. There’s a time and place for sharing, and there’s a time and place for privacy. Your will is private.
The lack of proper building permits is a serious concern. It is only with properly issued and closed-out permits that you can be confident that the work done in the house is compliant with building codes.
I'm accustomed to the challenges of being an estate lawyer. But I'm not accustomed to the challenges of being a client! Rewriting my own will after a long time, I was surprised at some of the issues I encountered.
A ground lease is an arrangement where the coop owns the building, but someone else owns the land under it. Sounds strange, but it's an ancient kind of property arrangement, and it allows the owner to reap rental income in ways that are sometime desirable.
Part of the job of estate planning is thinking through the different ways the future might work out - who will survive whom, whether a beneficiary will be a minor or an adult at the time she receives the bequest. It’s important to take a range of possibilities into account.
Many websites advising on what to think about when divorcing say you should be sure to change your will once it's all over. That's good advice, but it doesn't go far enough.
When a close relative dies, and someone other than you has been named in the will as the executor of the estate (or applies to the court to administer the estate, if there was no will), you will receive a Waiver and Consent document and you’ll be asked to sign and return it.