New York residents who were fans of the late blues musician B.B. King may be interested to learn that there is a dispute over his will. Hours before a Las Vegas memorial service was held for King on May 23, an attorney who is representing some of King’s family members issued a public statement. The attorney said that his clients plan to challenge King’s will and the actions of his named executor.
B.B. King’s executor is a woman who also served as King’s business manager before his death. According to a group of King’s family members, the woman was not qualified to serve as the executor of King’s will. The family also alleges that King’s executor misappropriated million of dollars, lied and exercised undue influence over King’s will. It is unclear if King’s estate included any trust assets .
The family’s attorney is representing five of King’s adult daughters and other heirs. So far, King’s executor has not responded to the allegations from King’s family. Before King’s memorial, she did say that she hoped the service would be calm, peaceful and respectful.
Naming the right person to serve as the executor of a will is an important part of estate planning. The executor will be responsible for disbursing the testator’s assets properly and handling many other tasks of estate administration. A person who has been named the executor has a legal responsibility to adhere to the exact instructions in a person’s will. An executor who has questions about the duties that are required may want to seek the advice of an estate administration attorney.
Source: U.S. News & World Report, ” B.B. King family group accuses estate executor of ‘undue influence’ at death of blues great ,” Ken Ritter, Associated Press, May 23, 2015
Putting an effective estate plan into place is a prudent step for any New York resident to take, but it may be even more important for those who own a business. Probate courts are not the places where most entrepreneurs would want questions about their estate resolved, and probate judges may sometimes not be as knowledgeable as they could be about complex intangible business assets such as intellectual property.
Placing business interests in a living trust is one way that the probate process can be avoided to an extent. However, this can be complex if the business was structured as a partnership or limited liability company. Business real estate can be handled in a number of ways, and a transfer on death deed, a life estate or a joint ownership arrangement may all be appropriate strategies.
Some assets that are personally held may be related to a business, and proactive steps should be taken to make sure that these assets do not become entangled in probate proceedings. Having contingency plans in place within a company can also go a long way towards ensuring that things continue to run smoothly. An individual should be designated in advance to take care of the running of the business and procedures can be established to ensure that cash is available to run the business. However, perhaps the most important estate planning step entrepreneurs can take is having a plan in place to ensure that the business continues to operate after they pass away.
Dealing with end of life matters is seldom easy, but failing to take action can leave family members with difficult problems that could often have been avoided. An attorney with experience in this area could provide peace of mind by explaining how to the prudent use of trusts and other estate planning strategies can protect heirs and minimize the impact of estate taxes.
Many individuals in New York are under the impression that probate is a bad thing. Some people take steps to ensure that most, if not all, of their assets do not have to go through probate by adding other signatories to bank and brokerage account, investing assets in a whole life insurance policy and establishing living trusts. These and other measures are designed to allow access by another individual upon the primary party’s death.
Probate is required in two situations. First, if an individual dies without a will and with all property titled in his or her name, probate is required in order to ensure that the assets go to the right person . The determination of the right person is made by the judge in the probate process according to state law.
The other situation where probate is required is when an individual dies leaving a will. The judge appoints a personal representative based on the terms of the will, and the personal representative settles debts and liabilities. The personal representative can inform the funeral service that the will is in probate, avoiding any delay in a funeral. Once all debts are settled and all creditors have had notice and opportunity to assert claims against the estate, the personal representative distributes the remaining assets as directed in the will.
In some cases, probate is actually less expensive than preparing a living trust. If an individual is engaged in estate planning, he or she may wish to consult a lawyer regarding the options for making sure that assets are disposed of as the individual wants at the time of death. The attorney may be able to advise the individual regarding the options that will satisfy the individual’s wishes , protect his or her estate and require the least expense and effort on the part of the surviving family.
New York residents who are preparing their wills or who have learned that they have been named executors under an existing one may wonder what is involved in being an executor and what responsibilities the position has. The duty of an executor is to gather assets, pay off debts and distribute assets to the beneficiaries.
The executor’s duties can be broken up into a number of smaller steps. The executor must first locate the assets and may need to make decisions about which ones to keep or sell. An executor may also need to find out whether it will be necessary to probate the will.
Next, the executor must locate all heirs and file the will in court as appropriate. The executor is also responsible for taking care of the affairs of the testator, and this may include everything from contacting the bank to the Social Security Administration and more. It may be necessary to continue paying some bills such as insurance on property, so the executor may need to establish a bank account for the estate. Debts, creditors and final income taxes must be paid. In some circumstances, a person may have to administer an estate when there is no will . In such a case, or if there is a will but also property that is not included in the will, the administrator must follow state law for its distribution.
Being an executor can be complicated, and a person who is appointed as one may not have a legal or financial background. In such a case, the executor may wish to work with an estate administration attorney. This may be particularly helpful if the estate is a complex one and if there are a number of financial and legal decisions to be made.