Planning for Life

Why Would Anyone Do Estate Planning? A Lot of Bang for the Buck

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on July 24, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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Why would anyone want to partake in estate planning? It takes time. You have to deal with lawyers. And to talk about your death or disability. It may bring up contentious issues with a spouse or children. It's not urgent, since nothing is likely to happen to you tomorrow, or even in the next few years. It costs money.

So, why should you take time out of your busy life to commit to estate planning? The answer is that there are few other simple steps you can take that will could have as great an impact on your family's welfare. The cost-benefit trade off is tremendous.

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Topics: durable power of attorney, will, HIPAA release, health care proxy, revocable trust

Does Contested Language Create a Life Estate in Land?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 29, 2018

 By Harry S. Margolis

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A recent Texas case, Knopf v. Gray LLC (Texas Sup. Ct. No. 17-0262, March 23, 2018), demonstrates how courts interpret unclear language in wills. In this case, Vada Wallace Allen gave her son, Robert Gray, 316 acres of land in Robertson County, Texas, under the following wording:

NOW BOBBY I leave the rest to you, everything, certificates of deposit, land, cattle and machinery, Understand the land is not to be sold but passed on down to your children, ANNETTE KNOPF, ALLISON KILWAY, AND STANLEY GRAY. TAKE CARE OF IT AND TRY TO BE HAPPY.

Robert Gray subsequently sold the land to Polasek Farms and two of his children, Annette Knopf and Stanley Gray, sued arguing that all their father could sell was his lifetime interest in the property.

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Topics: will

What's It Like to Meet with an Attorney to Do Your Estate Plan?

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 15, 2018

 By Harry S. Margolis

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Financial columnist John Schwartz reports in The New York Times on his and his wife's experience in getting their estate plan done, and it doesn't sound too terrible. At first, he checked out a number of on-line will programs, which he felt could work for anyone with a straightforward situation, as long as they at least consult with an attorney to make sure anything they don't know won't come back to bite them or their families.

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Topics: will

Bloom and Margolies, No That's Not a Typo

Posted by Harry S. Margolis on May 8, 2018

By Harry S. Margolis

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As reported in The New York Times, Sylvia Bloom spent 67 years working as a legal secretary in New York City at the international law firm, Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton. She retired at age 96 and died soon thereafter in 2016 with an estate of nearly $9 million. She had no children, and her estate gave $6.24 to the Henry Street Settlement in the Lower East Side, the biggest single gift the social service agency has received in its 125-year history.

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Topics: will

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