estate planning

Estate Planning Must-Dos When Divorce is the only option—Part 2 

In the first part of this series, we discussed a couple of the most critical updates you must make to your estate plan if you’re getting divorced. Here, we’ll cover the last three of these must-do planning tasks. 

Because getting divorced can be overwhelming on so many levels, updating your estate planning often takes a back seat to other seemingly more-pressing priorities. But failing to update your plan for divorce can have potentially tragic consequences, some of which you may have never even considered before.

In fact, it’s critical that you update your plan not only after the divorce is final, but as soon as you know the split is inevitable. Until your divorce is final, which may take many months if not years, your marriage is legally in full effect, so if you die or become incapacitated while the divorce is still ongoing and you haven’t updated your plan, your soon-to-be ex-spouse could end up with complete control over your life and assets.

For example, if you suddenly die of a heart attack while the divorce is ongoing and never got around to changing your estate plan, it’s quite likely that your future ex would inherit everything. And if that’s not bad enough, if you were to become incapacitated in a car accident during the divorce, the very person you’re paying big money to legally remove from your life could be granted complete authority over all of your legal, financial, and healthcare decisions.

This is something your divorce attorney won’t think to bring up, but it’s literally one of the most critical matters you need to handle if you’re ending your marriage. 

3. Create a new will

You should create a new will as soon as you decide to get divorced, because once you file, you may not be able to change your will. Rethink how you want your assets divided upon your death. This most likely means naming new beneficiaries for any assets that you’d previously left to your future ex and his or her family and removing your ex’s relatives from guardianship or executor’s roles. And unless it’s your wish, you’ll probably no longer want your ex—or any of his or her family—listed as your will’s executor or administrator, either. 

Some states have community-property statutes that entitle your surviving spouse to a certain percentage of the marital estate upon your death, regardless of what’s in your will. This means if you die before the divorce is final, you probably won’t be able to entirely disinherit your surviving spouse through the new will. 

However, it’s almost certain you wouldn’t want him or her to get everything. Given this, you should update your will as soon as possible, once the divorce is inevitable, to ensure the proper individuals inherit the remaining percentage of your estate should you pass away while your divorce is still ongoing.

And should you choose not to create a new will during the divorce process, don’t assume that your old will is automatically revoked once the divorce is final. State laws vary widely in regard to how divorce affects a will. In some states, your will is revoked by default upon divorce. While in others, unless it’s officially revoked, your entire will—including all provisions benefiting your ex—remains valid even after the divorce is final.

4. Amend your existing trust or create a new one

If you have a revocable trust set up, you’ll want to review and update it, too. Like wills, the laws governing it, when, and how you can alter a trust during a divorce can vary, so you should do it as soon as legally possible. In addition to reconsidering what assets your ex-spouse should receive through the trust, you’ll probably want to replace him or her as a successor trustee if they are so designated.

And, if you don’t have a trust in place, you should seriously consider creating one, especially if you have minor children. Trusts provide a wide range of powers and benefits unavailable through a will, and they’re particularly well-suited for blended families. Given the likelihood that both you and your spouse will eventually get remarried—and perhaps have more children—trusts are an invaluable way to protect and manage the assets you want your children to inherit.

By using a trust, for example, should you die or become incapacitated while your kids are minors, you can name someone of your choosing to serve as successor trustee to manage their money until they reach adulthood and supervise their spending, making it impossible for your ex to meddle with their inheritance.

Beyond this key benefit, trusts afford you several other levels of enhanced protection and control not possible with a will. So you should at least discuss creating a trust with an estate planning attorney before ruling out the option entirely.

5. Revisit your plan once your divorce is final

During the divorce process, your main planning concern is limiting your soon-to-be ex’s control over your life and assets should you die or become incapacitated before divorce is final. Given this, the individuals to whom you grant power of attorney, name as trustee, designate to receive your 401k, or add to your estate plan in any other way while the divorce is ongoing are often just temporary.

Once the divorce is final and your marital property has been divided up, you should revisit all of your estate planning documents and update them accordingly based on your new asset profile and living situation. From there, your plan should continuously evolve along with your life circumstances, particularly following major life events, such as getting remarried, having additional children, and/or when close family members pass away. 

Don’t wait, act now!

Even though divorce can be one of life’s most difficult transitions, it’s vital that you make updates to your estate planning during this trying time. Putting off updating your plan, even for a few days, during a divorce can make it legally impossible to change certain parts of your plan, so take action now. And, if you’ve yet to create an estate plan at all, an impending divorce is the perfect time to finally take care of this crucial task. 

Contact Lexern Law Group

This article is a service of Lexern Law Group, Ltd.  We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love.

will planning, estate planning, estate plan, trusts, wills

The Importance of Will Planning

In many families, money is not a typical dinner table discussion. Surprisingly, this is especially true when it comes to affluent parents. We hope to change the conversation because one of the most important things you can do is talk to your kids (and your parents) about money. With so much at stake, will planning is a crucial task that should not be neglected. 

Let the Numbers Do the Talking

According to the Spectrem Millionaire Corner, a market research group, only 17% of affluent parents said they would disclose their income or net worth to their kids by the time they turned 18. A nearly equal amount, 18% said they would never disclose these numbers to their kids. 32% of the affluent parents surveyed by Spectrem said “it’s none of their business” when asked why they would not talk to their kids about money.

But, that’s just faulty thinking, wouldn’t you agree?! We hope so! 

The amount of money generated by your family, and what will happen to it when you or your parents become incapacitated or die is definitely your business. With assets at risk, will planning becomes more crucial in affluent families? And, whether your parents talk with you about it now, or you figure it all out after they die, your parents’ money has a huge impact on you.

And, of course, your money has a huge impact on your kids.

Obstacles to the Money Talk

It is possible that your parents have already begun the will planning process. However, if your parents are not talking to you about money, it could be because they are afraid. Perhaps they think that if you know how much money there is, it will make you lazy, unmotivated, or change the course of your life decisions in a negative manner. Maybe you have the same fears of talking about money with your own kids.

Perhaps, consider that when money has come up in the past, you behaved immaturely, and that caused your parents not to trust you. But, you can change that now. Consider the possibility that your parents would love it if they saw evidence of your maturity in this arena.

will planning, trusts, wills, estate planning, estate plan

If you are a parent yourself, you probably already know, or can imagine, that the most important wish you have for your children is that they learn to handle money, and that you want to influence them in the most positive way possible, when it comes to money.

No matter what the history is, there are many reasons why your parents may not want to discuss their wealth with you or their will planning efforts. By acknowledging these concerns, you cultivate a much better understanding to bring to the discussion when you broach the topic.

How to Have the Money Talk

The truth is, that whether you know the exact amount or not, you have a general sense of your family’s affluence and it’s already impacted your decisions in a myriad of ways. Lexern Law Group believes that the best way for your family’s money to impact your decisions in a positive manner is to open conversation about it all.

We all have to learn about our family’s money eventually. And if that doesn’t happen until after our parents die, it can be a much bigger burden to deal with, and we can lose tremendous opportunities for passing on more than just money. 

If you are a child of affluent parents who is not talking to you about money, consider that your job is to learn to communicate with your parents. Find a way that instills trust in you and the decisions you will make if you know just how much there is. 

Consider how you would want your children to approach you to have the money or will planning conversation, and how you can do exactly that with your parents. 

The True Value of Will Planning

As an affluent parent, or the child of affluent parents, getting into a conversation about money or will planning now is a huge opportunity to pass on values, insights, stories, and experience that will be lost, if you wait until incapacity or death to start facing the truth together. 

Helping you talk to your kids (or your parents) about money is one of the things we most love to do because we see it as a real opportunity for your family to come together. With Lexern Law Group’s will planning assistance, you can use your whole family wealth to create more connections from one generation to the next. If you need help having the money talk with your parents, your children, or have general will planning questions, contact us today. 

Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein.  While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is it a substitute for, a qualified legal advice.  Your review or receipt of this article from Lexern Law Group, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.

This article is a service of Lexern Law Group, Ltd.  We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. 

You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

pet trust, estate plan, estate planning, wills, trusts

What Happens to Your Pets if/When You Die?

If you have pets, my guess is that you love them as much as you do your children. However, I’m also guessing that you have not provided any written or, better yet, legally binding instructions about what should happen to them if you become incapacitated or die. If you haven’t, read on. It’s time for you to take action!  (And – shameless plug – we can make it easy for you to do right by the animals you love with a pet trust.)

Questions to Answer About Your Pet’s Care in a Pet Trust

Let’s start by looking at what happens if you become incapacitated or die and you’ve done nothing to ensure the well-being and care of your pets. It may be that if you do nothing, your friends and family will step forward to take care of your pets. But, will the person who steps forward be the person you would choose? And, will they be able to easily afford to care for your pet, in the way you do? Do you want them to assume the financial burden of supporting your pets?

  • Will they feed your pet the same food you do?
  • Will they be able to spend as much time and energy with your pet as you do?
  • Will they be able to offer your pet the same quality of life you do?

Do you care about these sorts of things?  Your should. 

If you do, you do need to take action. You cannot simply leave the well-being of your pets to chance. If you don’t designate at least one person, and ideally a backup to care for your animals, provide instructions to the people you’ve named, and allot sufficient money to support the care of your pets, they could become a burden to your friends and family. By leaving these elements up to chance, it is possible that your animal companion may be brought to the humane society. A pet trust goes a long way in showing your animals you love them.

Essential Steps For Creating a Pet Trust

pet trust, estate plan, estate planning, trusts, wills

When establishing a pet trust, there are a few steps you’ll need to follow. (Second shameless plug – we can guide you through the process to ensure that nothing is overlooked.) 

1. Designate who will care for your animals

Step one in all circumstances is to legally name the people you would want to care for your pets, in the event you cannot. You should name these people in your will, and also in a “pet power of attorney” providing for your pet’s care in the event of your incapacity.

2. Give Specific Instructions for Care

Step two is to give the people you’ve named specific instructions about how you want your pets to be cared for if you cannot do it. These directions should include veterinary contact information, types and amounts of food, any medications needed, exercise plan, list of allergies and other medical information, and any other special things you know about your pets that any caretaker should know.

3. Offer Financial Resources

Finally, step three of creating a pet trust is to consider whether you need to provide financial resources to care for your pets. If your pet has any special needs, or if you want to provide funding for training, regular exercise, or a certain kind of food or care, it’s up to you to provide the financial resources to the people you’ve named to take care of your pets.

Pet Trust Planning for the Care of Your Pets

The way to provide funding for the care of your pets is through a pet trust and additional provisions of your estate planning trust. Planning for their life after you are gone is much easier with estate planning lawyers like Lexern Law Group.  (Third shameless plug.) Whether you have a pet trust already or not, meeting with Lexern Law Group to learn about pet trust planning strategies will help preserve the quality of life to which your animals are accustomed.

Contact Lexern Law Group Today

 

Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein.  While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is it a substitute for, a qualified legal advice.  Your review or receipt of this article from Lexern Law Group, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.

This article is a service of Lexern Law Group, Ltd.  We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. 

You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

business succession planning

Business Succession PlanNING may help you preserve the value of your legacy

It’s anticipated that during the next two decades, retiring business owners will sell over twelve million businesses.  So, if you are over the age of forty-five and your business represents one of the key assets of your legacy, you need to take steps now to preserve its value for the time you will sell it or pass onto your children.  It might be your only source of income – your only real asset intended to provide you and your family a source of income during your retirement age. So, you need to take steps now to preserve your business and maximize its value – well in advance of the contemplated sale.

Business succession planning is an often overlooked, yet critical factor in preserving your legacy.

How to Maximize the Value of Your Business 

Wise business owners who prepare their businesses for sale can expect a comfortable retirement.  With a few simple steps, a business owner can substantially increase the value of his or her businesses upon sale. A seller shall learn to view his or her business through the eyes of a potential buyer to ensure success during business succession planning.

1. start with the numbers

The first step in business succession planning is to try to quantify your past business results by compiling revenues, costs, and profits for the last few years of operations.  Be sure to follow proper accounting practices, including recording cash receipts, so your financial statements accurately show your business’s performance. Doing business in cash is often preferred by small business owners, but such practices will undermine the value of your business and expose to significant risks in the future.   

Using the verified accounting number, make reasonable assumptions for the near future to create a reasonable performance forecast.  Your financial information may also help you to find financing opportunities for the deal if the buyer needs a third party to finance the acquisition of your business. Any sophisticated third-party lender will require solid accounting and financing records before financing the acquisition of your business. 

2. Tell your Story

Integrate your financial results into your marketing materials.  Your current financial statements and performance forecast should showcase your business’s unique position and growth opportunities.  Potential buyers are interested the most in the opportunities for higher sales and greater profitability. You may want to create a “teaser” one-page marking prospectus to hook a buyer’s attention before you share any financial information.

An interested buyer will be as excited to hear about your business as you are to tell about it. So, tell your potential buyer a clear and simple story in your marketing presentation. Your story, however, has to be credible and based on the actual performance and trends in the industry. (A few potential buyers will be excited to hear about the opportunities of doubling your business if your business’s actual performance shows meager growth or decline in business.) 

Once you identify a potential buyer, make sure that you sign a non-disclosure agreement.  Most buyers are well-familiar with such agreements and typically expect to be asked to sign them. 

3. Find the Right Buyer

You want to find a buyer who is in a position to buy and understand both your business and the market.  But, most importantly, your buyer should see a prospect in your business.  A person who doesn’t see growth or potential for success with the purchase of your business will not pay the best price.  You want your business’ buyer to succeed after the acquisition. 

4. Make the Deal

A sophisticated buyer will want a large earn-out – a portion of the purchase price that occurs after the sale, determined based on the agreed-upon milestones (such as sales or profit margins).  Such a buyer will want to pay as little as possible at the closing. You, however, want a large portion of the purchase price to be paid at closing, with as little in earn-out as possible. So, engaging an outside professional broker or an experienced M&A attorney may help you to bridge the gap.  In fact, you should never be afraid of asking for help from professionals at any point along the way. Lexern Law Group is happy to assist in business succession planning.

Preserve Your Legacy Today

Selling your business is a time of change in your life. The complexity of the details behind the process illustrates the value of working with experienced professionals, such as brokers, CPAs, and business succession lawyers like us.  So, whether you have a business-succession plan already or not, meeting with Lexern Law Group to learn about planning strategies can help preserve your legacy for generations to come.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to serve as a general summary of the issues outlined therein.  While this article may include general guidance, it is not intended as, nor is it a substitute for, a qualified legal advice.  Your review or receipt of this article from Lexern Law Group, Ltd. (the “LLG”) or any of its attorneys does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the LLG.  The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors of the article and does not reflect the opinion of the LLG.

This article is a service of Lexern Law Group, Ltd.  We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. 

You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

will your family receive support when it needs the most?  

Since Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, survives him (and it’s been widely reported that they married without a prenuptial agreement), it is most likely that she will inherit everything. And due to the “spousal exemption,” those assets will pass to her tax-free. 

Yet despite the protection from estate taxes, if she does inherit everything directly, all of the estate-planning, financial-planning, business-management, and wealth-preservation responsibilities for Kobe’s immense fortune will now pass to Vanessa. That’s an overwhelming responsibility to suddenly have to take on, especially while she mourns the loss of both her husband and child,  while raising Kobe’s remaining three daughters.

Given the vast scope of Kobe’s estate, ongoing business ventures, and the likelihood of lawsuits and other legal complications, Vanessa will need the advice and support of her trusted counsel now more than ever. And we sure do hope she has that support, and that it was established well before this point in time.

The Value of a Qualified Estate Planning Firm

Unfortunately, many estate planning firms do not engage with the whole family when creating estate plans and the associated legal documents, leaving the spouse and other family members largely out of the loop. Though we can’t know if this was the case with Kobe’s lawyers, such situations occur frequently enough that there’s a good possibility this could be true for Vanessa as well. 

And it could be true for you and your family, too. Are you in the loop on the planning that’s been handled (or not) for your parents? Are the people you’ve named in your plan, or who you would want handling things for you, fully up to date and aware of your planning? 

How CAN Lexern Law Group Help You and Your Family Today?

This scenario highlights the immense value of working with family-centered estate planning lawyers like us. We take the time to get to know you and your family members and include them in the planning process. We can even facilitate regular family meetings to keep everyone up to date, as your family dynamics and planning strategies evolve and change over the years.

While the death of Kobe, his daughter, and the others is terribly sad, if it motivates you to get your estate planning handled the right way, or updated, the tragedy just might have some positive impact. Whether you already have a plan created or nothing at all, meet with your estate planning lawyer at Lexern Law Group to learn about the specific planning strategies necessary to protect your loved ones and their inheritance if and when something equally tragic happens to you.

This article is a service of Lexern Law Group, Ltd.  We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, ™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. 

You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.