Spotlight News’ recent article entitled “Estate Planning To-Dos” says that with the potential for substantial changes to estate and gift tax rules under the Biden administration, this may be an opportune time to create or review our estate plan. If you are not sure where to begin, look at these to-dos for an estate plan.
See an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss your plans. The biggest estate planning mistake is having no plan whatsoever. The top triggers for estate planning conversations can be life-altering events, such as a car accident or health crisis. If you already have a plan in place, visit your estate planning attorney and keep it up to date with the changes in your life.
Draft financial and healthcare powers of attorney. Estate plans contain multiple pieces that may overlap, including long-term care plans and powers of attorney. These say who has decision-making power in the event of a medical emergency.
Draft a healthcare directive. Living wills and other advance directives are written to provide legal instructions describing your preferences for medical care, if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. Advance care planning is a process that includes quality of life decisions and palliative and hospice care.
Make a will. A will is one of the foundational aspects of estate planning, However, this is frequently the only thing people do when estate planning. A huge misconception about estate planning is that a will can oversee the distribution of all assets. A will is a necessity, but you should think about estate plans holistically—as more than just a will. For example, a modern aspect of financial planning that can be overlooked in wills and estate plans is digital assets. It is also recommended that you ask an experienced estate planning attorney about whether a trust fits into your circumstances, and to help you with the other parts of a complete estate plan.
Review beneficiary designations. Retirement plans, life insurance, pensions and annuities are independent of the will and require beneficiary designations. One of the biggest estate planning mistakes is having outdated beneficiary designations, which only supports the need to review estate plans and designated beneficiaries with an experienced estate planning attorney on a regular basis.
Reference: Spotlight News (May 19, 2021) “Estate Planning To-Dos”
The IRS said that Aretha Franklin’s estate owed more than $7.8 million in unpaid income taxes, interest and penalties from 2010 to 2017.
The Detroit Free Press’ recent article entitled “Aretha Franklin estate reaches deal with IRS to pay off claimed $7.8 million tax debt” reports a big breakthrough. It seems that Franklin’s four sons and the IRS have reached a settlement that would expedite the payment of the remaining tax burden and allow her sons access to some of the money from their late mother’s fortune.
Aretha’s heirs have not yet inherited anything from the estate because of the IRS situation.
In a petition filed February 19 in Oakland County Probate Court, the estate said the proposed arrangement includes an immediate $800,000 payment to the IRS. This is despite the fact that the estate continues to question the total tax bill owed.
Since her death, Franklin’s estate has been steadily paying on the tax debt, as well as the constantly growing interest, as it appeals the IRS’s claimed total. As of December 2020, the balance was $4.75 million.
The new petition says the final IRS bill will be determined “by agreement or litigation.”
The agreement between the estate and the IRS details the way in which Aretha’s posthumous revenue will be distributed, until the tax debt is resolved. Backdated to January 1 of this year, it includes new income from song royalties, licensing agreements and other money streams. This agreement states that 45% of quarterly revenue will go toward the existing IRS balance. 40% would also be earmarked for an escrow account to deal with the taxes due on the newly generated income. The other 15% of revenue would be used for managing the estate.
The agreement also provides an immediate $50,000 payment to each of Franklin’s four sons and approves quarterly cash payouts to them. This proposed deal, authorized by 10 attorneys representing the sons, was submitted to the court by attorney Reginald Turner. The Detroit lawyer and incoming American Bar Association president was appointed last year as temporary personal representative of the Franklin estate. The agreement has to be approved by Judge Jennifer Callaghan to be executable.
Franklin died in August 2018, after a long battle with cancer.
Reference: Detroit Free Press (March 1, 2021) “Aretha Franklin estate reaches deal with IRS to pay off claimed $7.8 million tax debt”