Trusts and Estates Blog

How Can I Prevent My Children from Fighting Over My Belongings After I Die?

You probably own some items of real or sentimental value (jewlery, antiques, art, heirlooms, furniture, clothing, etc.) that you want a certain child, grandchild, special friend, relative, or organization to have after you die.

Or maybe you just want to provide for some orderly way for your belongings to be divided among your heirs after you’re gone. We’ve all heard stories about the heirs fighting over Grandma’s piano or china. The damage is often so deep that sisters don’t speak to each other for the rest of their lives!

Here are some suggestions that can help you prevent this from happening in your family.

Make A Special Gifts List: If you have a living trust, you can make a list of these special gifts and whom you want to have them. Date the list, have it notarized (or witnessed; your attorney can tell you which is appropriate in your state) and keep it with your trust document. If you change your mind, just make a new list and have it notarized. To prevent disagreements about your intentions, be very specific. If your list is long, make a separate list for each person. If your estate is sizeable or if a gift is of substantial value, have your attorney review your list to resolve potential tax issues.

If you have a will, your special bequests will be listed on a codicil prepared by your attorney. If you want to make a change, your attorney will need to prepare a new codicil. (There’s one often overlooked advantage of having a living trust.)

Ask What They Want: Ask your children and others if there is something of yours they would like to have. There may be an item that has special meaning to someone that you aren’t even aware of. Wouldn’t it be nice to know that?

Make gifts now, especially if it is something that you no longer need, or if you are concerned there might be a problem later on.

Hold a family “sale” now, while you can provide information and referee. Gather your kids some weekend or holiday and have them take turns selecting items they want. If one item proves popular, let them bid against each other or make trades. Then write up a list for each person. What doesn’t “sell” to family members can be sold in an estate sale after you die and the proceeds divvied up. (If your family is reluctant to do this, tell them you’ll leave instructions for everything to be sold after you die.)

Write a description, especially if it has sentimental value or is a family heirloom. How else will they know this turkey platter belonged to your favorite Aunt Jessie and that one was picked up at a garage sale?! If the item is large enough, label it.

Qualified Personal Residence Trust

A qualified personal residence trust lets you continue to live in your home but transfer it to your children now so you will save estate taxes when you die.

When you set up a qualified personal residence trust, you transfer your home or vacation home to an irrevocable trust. For a specified period of time (often 10 to 15 years), you retain the right to use and live in the residence. After that time, the residence transfers to your beneficiaries (usually your children).

In effect, you are giving your home to your children today. But because your children will not receive it until sometime in the future, the value of this gift is discounted (reduced). This uses less of your federal gift and estate tax exemptions than if you had kept the home (and any future appreciation) in your estate.

If you die before the term of the trust is over, there is no penalty. Your home will just be included in your taxable estate, which is what would happen anyway without the trust. If you live longer than the duration of the trust and want to keep living there, you will have to pay rent (at fair market value).

And, of course, the house will not receive a stepped-up basis when you die. So you will want to see whether it’s better for your beneficiaries to save the capital gains taxes or to save the estate taxes.

Antelope Valley Estate Planning Law Firm Offers Seminar on Pending Changes to Medi-Cal and How they Affect Long-Term Care Planning

Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln is offering a November 12 seminar on the upcoming changes to Medi-Cal and how those changes will affect your long-term care planning.

Lancaster, CA (PRWEB) November 6, 2009 — Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln is offering a complimentary seminar on the changes to the Medi-Cal program and how those changes can affect long-term care planning.

“Long-term care planning is an intricate process,” said Kevin Von Tungeln, partner at Thompson Von Tungeln. “Compliance with the changes to Medi-Cal is akin to a chess games with draconian penalties if you make a mistake. That is why consumers need to be informed of the changes and have expert legal counsel guiding them through the process.”

The changes to Medi-Cal, the California Medicaid program, are centered on the ability to give away assets such as a home or financial instruments, and changes regarding annuities. Many individuals have established planning strategies to give away assets that will need adjusting.

“Anyone living today has a greater than 50 percent chance of needing long-term care when he or she reaches age 65,” said Von Tungeln. “At least 70 percent of persons over 65 will require long-term care at some point in their lives. Being knowledgeable about the new rules and planning accordingly can save you, your spouse and your heirs a great deal of trouble in the future.”

The seminar is on Thursday, November 12 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Palmdale. Registration is requested due to limited seating. To register for the complimentary seminar, call 661.945.5868.

About Kevin Von Tungeln
With more than 18 years’ legal experience, Kevin L. Von Tungeln serves Thompson Von Tungeln in the areas of estate planning, probate, trusts, wills, trust administration, conservatorships, guardianships and elder law. He is certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialists as a Board Certified Specialist in Estate Planning. Get to know more about Kevin’s approach to estate planning by viewing his informational videos at: http://www.youtube.com/user/EstateLawyers. Kevin can also be found at LinkedIn by going to: (www.linkedin.com/in/kevinvontungeln)

About Thompson Von Tungeln
Antelope Valley estate planning law firm Thompson Von Tungeln (TVT) offers sophisticated estate planning and administration for the affluent, discriminating client. As Board Certified Specialists in Estate Planning, Trusts and Probate as certified by the State Bar of California Board of Legal Specialization, partners Mark E. Thompson and Kevin L. Von Tungeln are expertly equipped to serve these clients with the creative, effective and custom solutions they demand. For more information, contact TVT at 661-945-5868 or visit their website at www.EstatePlanningSpecialists.com.

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