L’Wren Scott used a will to distribute assets to Mick Jagger

In the wake of the tragic death of fashion designer L’Wren Scott, news has emerged about her end-of-life wishes. Scott reportedly signed a will in May 2013, and the details of that document were recently made public.

The entirety of Scott’s estate, which has an estimated value of $9 million, will go to her long-time partner Mick Jagger. The largest asset in the estate is reportedly Scott’s $8 million apartment in Manhattan. That we know how her assets will be handled is due to the fact that she used a will, rather than a trust , to distribute the property directly to Jagger.

Anyone planning an estate should have a will, but it is also important to understand that a will becomes a public document in the hands of the probate court. If you want to keep your estate and financial matters private, then you may want to say in your will that you want your assets transferred to a trust, the details of which will not be public record.

In Scott’s case, we also know that her two siblings were not mentioned in the will. Whether this fact points to a rift in the family, who can say? Still, the merit of privacy offered by a trust is underscored by this now public information.

There have also been numerous reports about the debt struggle of Scott’s company, LS Fashion Limited. Of course, many estates have debts and assets, all of which have to be legally addressed in some way or another. More on these matters can be found at our probate website.

Source:  CNN, ” L’Wren Scott leaves $9 million estate to Mick Jagger ,” Rande Iaboni, March 28, 2014

Celebrities offer do’s and don’ts of estate planning

Many of the estate planning stories we end up reading about are regarding celebrities. In many cases, this is because celebrities have large estates by virtue of successful careers in the entertainment industry. Wealthy celebrities might also have a large circle of friends and associates — many of whom might be expecting a piece of the estate for themselves.

Some celebrities handle this better than others. Some are very specific when it comes to beneficiaries , while others leave ambiguous instructions that generate lawsuits and ill will among friends and associates. At any rate, people who aren’t movie stars might be able to apply what they learn from some of the cases we’re discussing in today’s post.

Philip Seymour Hoffman laid out very specific instructions in his will about his children’s upbringing. In the actor’s will, he expressed a strong desire for his kids to be raised in one of three cities — New York, Chicago or San Francisco — or at least to visit them frequently in order to take in the culture and arts each has to offer.

On the negative side, actor Marlon Brando’s estate was the subject of at least 25 lawsuits in the years after his death. Many of these were due to the fact that former employees said that Brando had made promises to them that they would receive certain items or funds after his death. However, his written wishes contained no such instructions.

There is a lot that can go wrong with estate planning, but there’s also a lot that can go right. Finding a trustworthy estate planning attorney can help put you on the path to the latter result.

Source:  Forbes, ” Oscar Winners Teach Five Lessons On Estate Planning ,” Danielle and Andy Mayoras, March 2, 2014

Trustee allegedly steals $18,000 from sale of house in estate

One of the most important considerations that a person going through the estate planning process can make is the naming of a trustee of their estate. There are several options available to New Yorkers who are working on this process. It may be that someone is most comfortable having a family member named as the trustee; others prefer someone outside the family entirely to perform trust administration duties.

Whomever a person chooses, it should be someone who the individual setting up the trust believes will do right by their estate after they are gone. By accepting the role, the trustee gives assurances that the wishes of the individual will be respected. Unfortunately, when it comes time to actually handle the affairs of the trust, not all trustees are up to the task.

A recent example of this comes to us from Connecticut. A former attorney — who surrendered his law license last year when he was investigated by the state — was charged with larceny for keeping the profits from the sale of a house in a trust that he administered. According to authorities, the man pocketed about $18,000 from the sale, which was part of the estate of a deceased woman.

The man now faces up to a decade behind bars if he is ultimately convicted of the second-degree larceny charge; he is scheduled to be arraigned later this month.

This case shows that it is important to find a trustworthy party or parties to administer your affairs after your death. An experienced estate planning attorney can advise you of how best to accomplish this. 

Source:  New Haven Register, ” Ex-East Haven attorney charged with embezzling from estate ,” March 11, 2014

Estate planning in New York affects the future of one’s assets

With spring around the corner, people usually are thinking of warm weather and growing plants — things that remind them of the renewal of life. Death is the last thing people typically want to ponder at this time of year, or really any time of the year in New York. However, failure to engage in estate planning means that a person will not be able to dictate how his or her assets are passed down in the future when he or she dies.

Recent statistics show that only 35 percent to 45 percent of people in America have wills. A person who doesn’t have a will essentially is requiring surviving family members to deal with unanswered questions after he or she passes away, which can be frustrating and costly at a time when they would rather be concentrating on grieving. The state will ultimately determine how one’s assets are divided in this situation, and one’s own desires with regard to the needs of his or her loved ones will essentially be irrelevant.

To start planning, a person can make a list of all of his or her valuable items, insurance policies, retirement accounts and other assets. Write down who should get certain assets and who can be guardians for one’s minor children. It also is wise for an individual to designate someone to handle his or her financial matters in the event that he or she becomes incapacitated.

Although developing a will typically isn’t most people’s idea of fun, it allows one to control what happens to his or her assets posthumously, in addition to allowing beneficiaries to easily access the assets that are rightfully t heirs . Estate planning can be complicated. Nonetheless, understanding the law will help a person to choose the best vehicle for his or her family’s needs in New York.

Source:  money.cnn.com,10 steps to painless estate planning, Martha White, March 3, 2014