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Archive for the ‘Estate Law’ Category

A friend passed away a few months ago. I miss seeing him walking the streets of downtown Indy and hearing his laugh across the Rathskeller Biergarten. But there’s one place I still see him all the time…on Facebook. His profile still shows up frequently in Mutual Friends and even on some events that he RSVP’d for before he passed.

Given the explosive growth of Facebook (now over 500 million users, with 61% aged 35 or older), the death of Facebook friends is going to become more commonplace. Recognizing this, Facebook has a fairly simple procedure in place to Report a Deceased Person’s Profile.

Facebook gives two options: to memorialize or to remove the profile. Memorializing a profile removes certain sensitive information and sets privacy so that only confirmed friends can see the profile or locate it in search. The Wall remains so that friends and family can leave posts in remembrance. In fact, I still see people leaving posts months later, particularly around birthdays, holidays and anniversaries.

Only immediate family members are able to remove a profile. This will completely remove the account from Facebook so that no one can view it. If you are requesting a removal but are not an immediate family member of the deceased, the account will instead be memorialized.

Facebook also requires proof of death, usually a link to an online obituary.

I haven’t reported my friend’s death on Facebook because I frankly feel it’s more appropriate to leave that decision to the family. But seeing as how his parents are both older and probably not on Facebook, I’m not sure whether that will happen. Just goes to show that Facebook can streamline the procedure, but the death of a friend will never be something easy to deal with.

There are some things you can do to make your own passing easier on those you leave behind. For more info, see Planning Your Digital Estate.

Facebook – Report a Deceased Person’s Profile

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Seems like there are babies and young children everywhere I look nowadays.  I’ve found myself giving the following advice to friends repeatedly, so I thought I’d post it here for everyone’s benefit:

Protect Your Baby.  Prepare a Will.

baby

Having a new baby will likely be one of your most wonderful and rewarding experiences. But planning for a baby means planning for both the good and the bad. Unfortunately, the “bad” may include your death or permanent disability while your child is still young.

If you want ensure that your children will be raised and provided for in the way you intend, you need to seriously consider creating a will that states who should take care of your children and their finances.

It’s best practice to write a will before the birth of your first child, and update the will before the arrival of any more children. Without a will, the state will decide who will care for your children and how your money will be divided, and there are no guarantees that the state will follow your wishes.

Before preparing a will, there are a few questions you must answer:

Who will be your child’s guardian?
Perhaps the most important question for parents when drafting legal wills is the question of who will be the child’s guardian. Think carefully about who you would like to raise your child in the event of an untimely death. Make sure you discuss this guardianship with the party in question before you draft the will. Discuss the things that may be really important to you for your children such as education, religion and family connection. Don’t wait too long before writing a will if you already have a child, as establishing guardianship is one of the most important things a parent can do.

What property is included in your will?
When you draft a will, you must think about what property will be included. You can be as specific or as general as you’d like when naming property. You can simply refer to your property as a body by referencing your estate, or you can break down specific or individual pieces of property that have special value, like artwork or collectibles. In the event that property isn’t designated in the will or a general term that encompasses the entire estate, it reverts to the state’s probate laws for distribution. You can handle disbursement of property a few different ways. If you’ve listed specific items of property, you can designate individuals to receive that property. Alternatively, you can simply designate who gets what portion of your estate, and let the named parties decide how to divide the property based on your allocations.

Who will be executor of your will?
After guardianship of your child, naming an executor is one of the most important decisions you can make. The executor is responsible for settling your estate after your death, and ensuring that your will is honored. An executor has to handle all the paperwork, liquidate assets, pay any taxes and distribute the proceeds according to the instructions in your will. Make sure you choose a trustworthy executor. If you don’t want to leave this burden to a friend or family member, choose a professional executor or a lawyer to handle the process.

baby3Nobody wants to think about dying while your children are little, so unfortunately a lot of people don’t. But now is the time to make plans and set them down in writing. Once you have the above questions answered, find a lawyer who can prepare your will. Wills are revocable, meaning you can always change them later, if necessary. However, setting something in motion now will be best for your children and give you peace of mind that it’s been taken care of. Create a will now…and then relax and enjoy watching your children grow and prosper.

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The LA Times has a nice article detailing some recent changes in estate taxes that may affect your estate planning:

A decade-long phase-out of the estate tax eliminated the tax completely as of January. The catch: If nothing’s done, estate taxes will boomerang back to historic levels in 2011. That means any bequest of more than $1 million would be hit with a heavy levy on any amount above that limit after December.

But estate planning isn’t just about taxes, and it’s not just for the rich.

The legal vacuum that was created by the temporary elimination of the estate tax has created potential pitfalls even for people with modest estates.

For example, if you were to die this year and had an old “by-pass” trust, the elimination of the estate tax could cause you to accidentally disinherit your spouse, said Clay Stevens, director of strategic planning for Aspiriant, a wealth management firm in Los Angeles.

Ignoring your estate plan can land your children with ill-suited guardians or give them a pile of cash that they’re too young to handle. If you become incapacitated before you die, it can mean that your care could be dictated by a stranger — or even an enemy. And, doing nothing can cause your heirs to bicker and battle in court — sometimes for decades.

Click here for the full article.

Consider contacting an attorney soon to review your estate plans.

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