WMUR’s recent article entitled “Common estate planning mistakes” gives us a few of the most common and potentially costly mistakes, along with help on how to avoid them.
Failing to plan. You delay and you delay. Most Americans don’t have a will and no estate plan. If you die without a will, your assets will be divided according to the intestacy laws of your state. There is no guarantee this would be consistent with your wishes. Whether an estate plan involves a basic will or perhaps a trust, having a plan can help reduce estate taxes, save on estate administrative costs, preserve privacy and speed up disbursement to beneficiaries. An estate plan can help direct how your assets are to be distributed. You can also designate a guardian for your minor children in your will.
Failing to maximize your marital estate exemption. Portability is an estate planning provision that can help with potential estates. Each person gets an $11.7 million federal estate tax exemption in 2021. If one spouse dies without using up his or her $11.7 million, the unused portion may be transferred to the other spouse for use at the survivor’s death. However, portability doesn’t address the appreciation of assets from the first spouse’s estate. It also doesn’t offer creditor protection. There are other documents in a comprehensive estate plan that can address these goals. Discuss the issues with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Failing to consider state estate taxes. You may live in one of the states that has state estate taxes. Twelve states and DC impose estate taxes. These include Hawaii, Washington, Massachusetts, Oregon, New York, Minnesota, Illinois, Vermont, Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maryland. Keep this in mind when reviewing your strategy and make certain to discuss how portability is elected with your estate planning attorney.
Taking advice from family or friends. Make sure the person you discuss your estate plans with is knowledgeable about the process. Look for an experienced estate planning attorney who knows estate tax law, trust and probate issues. You may also ask this attorney, if they practice in elder law.
You should have your estate documents in place to give you peace of mind that things are going to happen as you wished upon your death.
Reference: WMUR (May 6, 2021) “Common estate planning mistakes”
Larry King's widow Shawn is set to go to court over a recently discovered hand-written will that cuts her out of a share of his fortune.
Fox News reports in the article entitled “Larry King's widow Shawn King plans to contest star's will in court” after King's handwritten will was discovered. The will is said to say that his $2 million estate would be divided among his five children.
The document is said to have been drafted on October 17, 2019—just two months after Larry filed for divorce from Shawn. The new will doesn’t mention her at all and also lists his now-deceased children Chaia and Andy as beneficiaries. This will was written a few months before the loss of 65-year-old Andy and 51-year-old Chaia, who died within weeks of each other.
Larry’s three remaining children -- Larry King, Jr., 59, Cannon, 20, and Chance, 21 -- were also named. Cannon and Chance are King’s children with Shawn. However, Shawn contends that there was already a plan in place between she and King that wasn’t reflected in the alleged document.
"We had a very watertight family estate plan," she told Page Six of a plan she and her husband drew up "as a couple" in 2015.
"It still exists, and it is the legitimate will. Period," she remarked. "And I fully believe it will hold up, and my attorneys are going to be filing a response, probably by the end of the day."
The handwritten will is complicated by the deaths of his children in 2020; in addition, Larry also told Page Six before his death that he and Shawn had once again become close. However, it is not known if the divorce was still moving forward.
Shawn also said that she and her husband spoke daily and claimed she was never made aware of an amendment to his will.
"It beats me!" she said when asked why she thinks Larry drafted the new document.
Their two sons were also "shocked" to hear about the change, she said, and claimed they "are not happy about this."
Shawn also said she thinks someone exerted influence over the broadcast legend to have him write the new will, although offered no additional evidence of this contention.
"Based on the timeline, it just doesn’t make sense," she said, noting that she doesn't believe he would have cut her out due to the filing of divorce papers.
According to People magazine, Larry King allegedly wrote in the document, "This is my Last Will & Testament. It should replace all previous writings. In the event of my death, any day after the above date, I want 100% of my funds to be divided equally among my children Andy, Chaia, Larry Jr., Chance & Cannon."
It looks like under the current will, Shawn would likely get around $300,000 after the $2 million estate was divided among King's sons and presumably the survivors of his late children. However, she says it’s the principle.
Larry King's attorney said that while the firm has no comment on Shawn's position, they feel that "the will, which we will be asking the court to admit to probate on March 25th, reflects Larry’s intent to divide his estate equally among his children."