Have your parents made their financial plans?

The following article, by guest columnist Frank Bevenour, of Edward Jones in Rincon,appeared this week in the Effingham Herald, in the Savannah, Georgia area:

As an adult, you’re fortunate if you still
have your parents. However, as they get older, you may well have to
assist them in some key areas of their life. Specifically, they may
need you to get involved in some of their financial issues. And if you
do, you may need to focus on two areas: leaving a legacy and managing
finances during retirement.

While initiating these
conversations may not be easy for you, it is important, and you may
find your parents more willing to discuss these issues than you had
thought. In any case, if your parents haven’t already done so,
encourage them to work with an estate-planning professional to develop
the necessary legal documents, which may include wills, trusts and
financial durable powers of attorney. These documents and services can
be invaluable in helping individuals find efficient ways to pass assets
from one generation to the next. An estate-planning attorney can
identify which arrangements are the most appropriate for you and your

In your discussions on leaving a legacy, you may also
want to bring up the topic of the beneficiary designations that may
appear on your parents’ life insurance contracts and qualified plans,
such as 401(k)s and IRAs. If the family picture has changed in recent
years, and your parents had intended to change these designations, they
should take action sooner rather than later.

While your
parents need to deal with the legacy issue, they still may have plenty
of years of living ahead of them — and they might need help managing
their money during these years. For starters, you may want to have a
discussion about their savings, investments, insurance and so on, and
where these assets are held. Are they kept in banks or investment
companies? Do your parents have safe-deposit boxes? This knowledge
could be valuable if you ever become involved in managing or
distributing your parents’ resources.

Also, you might want
to talk to your parents about the income sources they may be drawing
from during their retirement. For example, how much are they taking out
each year from their 401(k)s and IRAs? They don’t want to withdraw so
much that they deplete their accounts too soon, but at the same time,
they would no doubt like to maintain their standard of living in
retirement. You may want to suggest to your parents that they evaluate
their investment portfolio for both growth and income potential —
because they will need both elements during a long retirement.   

your parents aren’t already working with a financial advisor, you may
want to encourage them to do so. Managing an investment portfolio
during retirement is no easier than doing so during one’s working years
— and there’s less time to overcome mistakes. A qualified financial
advisor can help your parents choose the right mix of investments that
can help meet their needs.

During the course of your
lifetime, your parents have done a lot for you. You can help pay them
back by doing whatever you can to assist them in managing their
financial strategy.

SOURCE: Effingham Herald

Georgia Attorney Says Michael Jackson Custody Battle a ‘Dire Wakeup Call’ for Unprepared Parents

Georgia estate planning attorney
Stephen Worrall is urging parents across the state to re-evaluate the status of
their estate plans should they suddenly die or find themselves unable to care
for their kids.  Worrall says free
websites such as www.gakidsprotectionplan.com make it possible to do this even if
parents can’t afford a lawyer.

ATLANTA July 1-   Marietta,
Georgia estate attorney Stephen Worrall is urging parents across the state to
re-examine their own estate plans in light of the recent battle over Michael
Jackson’s assets and guardianship of his children.

Stephen Worrall is the only lawyer in Georgia recognized
as a Personal Family Lawyer® and specially trained to work with parents to
choose the right guardians for their children regardless of their income.  The work of the Personal Family Lawyer®
program has been featured on the Today show, Fox News, CNBC and radio programs across the country as they help
make estate planning accessible and affordable for every family across the
United States.

Worrall explains, “Whether
you have $5 or $50 million dollars, if you have a child, you must put your guardianship decisions in
writing.  This includes naming someone to
care for your children for the short-term until the permanent guardian (if they
live out of state or can’t be available for some reason) can come and take
charge of the situation

According to Worrall, estate planning isn’t “just for
rich people” either.  One particular
site, http://www.gakidsprotectionplan.com
allows parents to name guardians for their kids free of charge so parents no longer have any reason to not plan
properly for their child’s future.

None of us can
predict how or when we will die or become injured
,” says Worrall.  But we
can all make the decision about who would raise our kids and not leave it up to
a Judge and an overcrowded court system to decide
,” he adds.

The necessity of estate planning or naming guardians for
kids typically falls by the wayside until high profile cases such as Michael
Jackson’s death or Anna Nicole Smith’s death reminds parents that some form of
legal planning must be done to ensure children do not wind up with a court
appointed guardian, or worse, in the hands of the state foster system.

I’ve seen so many  cases where kids end
up in the care of the wrong people because their parents didn’t take five
minutes to make their guardianship decisions known in writing,” laments
“Yet it’s so unfortunate because estate planning is affordable, and even
free in the case of the GAKidsProtectionPlan.com website, so there is no longer
any excuse for parents not to get this taken care of for their children.”

For further information on Marietta and Atlanta area estate
planning attorney, Stephen Worrall or guardianship issues for kids, please
contact Stephen at (770) 425-6060 or by email at steve@georgiafamilylaw.com.

Celebrities Die Just Like the Rest of Us

My colleague and fellow estate planning attorney and blogger, Jennifer N. Sawday, of the California Estate Planning Blog and the law firm of Tredway, Lumsdaine & Doyle, LLP has written a post on the recent deaths of Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett and Ed McMahon. She has gotten some nice feedback on it in the blogging circles (way to go, Jenni!) and I have reposted it below:


very notable celebrities have died. Ed McMahon, Farrah Fawcett and now
Michael Jackson. Each had families. Each had loved ones. Each had
assets. And each had potential contestants to their estate. Did each
have an estate plan in place that was updated and reflected their

Time will soon find out. The media will report if their
estate administration turns out to be a mess like Anna Nicole Smith's

Ed was survived by his wife so his estate is likely to be
less burdensome whether he had an estate plan in place or not. A
surviving spouse generally has an easier time on formal estate
administration than children or other loved ones.

If you are
not married like Farrah or Michael were — having an estate plan in
place is very important especially if you want to provide for your
partner or other loved one despite not being married.  Both Farrah and
Michael had children that should be provided for. And Michael is
survived by three young children. The mother of two of the children
relinquished her parental rights so their guardianship and care may
very well wind up being a contested matter.

You need to outline
your wishes for disposition of your assets, nominate a successor
trustee or executor to handle your affairs and otherwise make your
wishes known.  Where there are minor children in place, it is very
important to nominate guardians and have a trust in place in the event
of your passing.

It simply does not matter who you are. An
estate plan carefully drafted and funded in conjunction with your
professional advisors, such as your attorney, accountant and financial
advisors, is important. Important for everyone including celebrities.

May Ed, Farrah and Michael RIP.

SOURCE FOR POST: California Estate Planning Blog

Michael Jackson’s Will Filed with Court Today

As a Marietta and Atlanta GA estate planning attorney and blogger on estate planning topics for several years, I have had the pleasure of getting to know many similar estate planning lawyers throughout the country. One of them, my colleague David Shulman of the South Florida Estate Planning Law Blog, has posted an excellent, concise and very timely discussion of, and a link to, the Last Will and Testament of Michael Jackson.

As I have posted before on my Georgia Wills, Trusts, Estate Planning and Probate Blog, we can show you a will after someone's death because it is a public record. Unlike many, however, as David points out, Mr. Jackson in this Will appears to have done it right: he had a trust (a private document) set up to hold his assets and this will transferred any property not otherwise ownedd by the trust but which was owned in the singer's individual name, to the trust, to be administered and distributed in accordance with the instructions left in the trust document. David's post continues below.


Here is the link to Michael Jackson’s Last Will and Testament.

The will is what’s known as a “pour-over” will.  In other words, instead of the will itself disposing of all of his assets directly, it instead transfers all of his assets to the “MICHAEL JACKSON FAMILY TRUST” as amended and restated on March 22, 2002.  The terms of his revocable trust will govern the disposition of his property.  I assume that most of the assets will remain in trust for his children and their children, with significant distributions to other family members and charities.

However, I don’t know.  I’m only assuming.

A will is public and is filed with the court.  A trust is not.  There is no obligation to disclose the terms of the trust to the public.  Certain beneficiaries are entitled to copies of the trust however, and it’s possible that one of them might leak it at some later point in time.

The executors of the will [. . .] are John Branca, John McClain, and Barry Siegel.  Their primary responsibility will be to transfer the estate’s assets, that is the assets that were not already owned by the trust, to the trust.  The successor trustee (whoever that might be) is then responsible for managing the trust estate.

He did nominate his mother, Katherine Jackson as the guardians of his minor children.  In the event of the death, inability, or refusal to act of Katherine Jackson, he nominates, believe it or not, Diana Ross!

Those are the only details now.  It’s a short five page will.  Unless there is a subsequent will, or the trust somehow becomes public, this is all the information that will be public.

I’m actually impressed.  It seems that as irresponsible of a person as he was, he might have actually done this correctly.  [Compare this to the outcome of] Anna Nicole Smith.

SOURCE FOR POST: South Florida Estate Planning Law Blog

Divorce Attorneys Using Social Media to Find Evidence

It's been known for a while that current and potential future employers look at people's profiles on social networking sites such as Facebook.

And it's also been known that people are using social networking sites to announce the status of their relationship — or lack of one.

Now the two uses are getting together, with divorce attorneys mining social networking sites for evidence supporting their clients.

"Lawyers, however, love these sites, which can be evidentiary gold mines," said a recent article in Time. "Did your husband's new girlfriend Twitter about getting a piece of jewelry? The court might regard that as marital assets being disbursed to a third party. Did your wife tell the court she's incapable of getting a job? Then your lawyer should ask why she's pursuing job interviews through LinkedIn." One attorney quoted in the article said such research is "routine."

In addition, exes are posting information about their formers — such as an estranged wife emailing "friends" of the spouse the additional information that he was married with children, which he had neglected to include in his Facebook profile.

Such messages on a social-networking site can even be part of a harassment campaign that led to the court's issuing a civil order of protection, one attorney said.