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Articles Tagged with wills

By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

will

Prince performing in concert in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Bob Young.

It’s been more than a year since music legend Prince died unexpectedly at his home in Minnesota. He was actively touring and working at the time of his death on April 21, 2016, at the young age of 57.

You’re forgiven if you assumed his estate was long settled, since he died more than a year ago. But it’s not done yet – and may not be for quite a while – due to the fact that he died without a will.

It’s astounding to think that someone who is as famous, prosperous and with as many assets as Prince would die without this basic legal document. But as it turns out, he’s no different than anyone else – he probably didn’t want to think about death.

Whether you die a famous millionaire or with few assets, if you don’t have a Will you can leave a large mess. Heirs you would have never wanted to have your property could get it. Your estate will spend more probating your assets as well, and those who you wished to receive items from your estate may never see them.

Prince was a very charitable man, yet none of his millions he had nor future royalties will benefit those he likely would have preferred to benefit. Plus, the estate will shell out much more than anyone would want to pay in estate taxes.

Your children and family will be far happier if you take care of this before you die – and there’s no doubt it will bring you piece of mind, too.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

Most people who have considered making an estate plan or who have already made such a plan, whether simple or complex in nature, are familiar with a living will directive. By Kentucky statute, a living will directive may designate a health care surrogate to make decisions for a person when that person is incapacitated or in a vegetative state. The Living Will Directive may state a person’s wishes regarding life-prolonging treatment, artificially provided nutrition, or donating all or part or all of a person’s body. Living will directives are very common in estate planning.

Most people also know what a do-not-resuscitate order is, but in Kentucky, putting one into legal and practical effect appears to be a little tricky. The only direct, standalone authority for mandatory recognition of a do-not-resuscitate order in Kentucky is a statute authorizing a Kentucky Emergency Medical Services Do Not Resuscitate Order. Therefore, an EMS DNR. The statute requires the EMS DNR to be embodied on a standard form approved by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure (click here for form). An EMS DNR, however, only applies to EMS personnel in a pre-hospital setting. From the living room floor to the doors of the hospital, the EMS DNR controls. Once you are in the hospital, assuming you made it that far, the EMS DNR has no effect or control.

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By Nathan Vinson, attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

estate debtWhen a spouse, parent or child passes away, it’s incredibly difficult to handle. Beyond your own grief, planning the funeral and handling a thousand different tasks, you may receive calls or letters from creditors who try to convince you that you should pay the debt of the person who died.

In one recent case, a widow received a collection letter from an agency that specializes in collecting debt for creditors of deceased people. The estate had been closed for about a year. She didn’t owe that debt, but the collection agency tried to convince her that she did.

Collecting decedent debts

By law, you don’t owe a debt for someone who died (unless, of course, you owed the debt jointly with the decedent or as a guarantor). Once the person passes away and the proper steps have been taken to handle the probate estate, the opportunity for a creditor to collect unsecured debt is gone.

Credit agencies, especially the less reputable ones, may use all manner of intimidation and even threats to get people to pay debts. These calls can be troubling and confusing for people, especially those who are older or who don’t know the law. It’s important to understand how debt is collected to protect yourself and the people you love.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

will

Prince performing in concert in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo by Bob Young.

News reports since Prince’s death have indicated he died intestate – which means without a will. It’s hard to imagine someone who had complex dealings with the music world and a sizable fortune not having this very basic legal document.

You’re talking about a guy who changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in a contract dispute with Warner Brothers (finally settled in 2014) and put out albums under the symbol name – and never seemed to lose credibility or popularity because of it. His cool factor really has nothing to do with legal issues. As a fellow musician, I just stand in awe of anyone who has such a long, productive career and had such a strong fan base that lasted decades.

Think of the legality of changing your name to a symbol and continuing to produce records. It probably gave his business and legal advisors some heartburn. Lawyers were likely involved in many aspects of his musical career, determining usage rights, negotiating record deals, negotiating with booking agents for venues and many, many other things. He had employees certainly and probably more than one business entity. It was a complex life.

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2016.04.12 Rebecca Simpson - resizedWe’re pleased to welcome Rebecca Simpson, who joined our firm as a senior attorney on April 18, 2016. Rebecca was most recently an attorney for Kentucky Legal Aid. She ran for Warren County Family Court Judge in 2014. She will serve as an estate planning attorney, among other roles.

For ELPO, Rebecca will be practicing in estate law, family law and will offer mediation services. Her family law practice will encompass adoption, business valuation, child support, custody issues, divorce, parent relocation and property division, among other services. She will also provide mediation services in family law and estate cases.

Rebecca is a Bowling Green native. She graduated from Western Kentucky University with highest honors and earned a full academic scholarship to Brandeis School of Law at the University of Louisville. After graduating with honors from Brandeis law school, Rebecca began her legal career in Louisville, Kentucky where she focused her practice on family law and enjoyed a thriving private practice.

By Elizabeth J. McKinney, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

woman-hand-smartphone-desk-pexelsWhen someone dies, there’s lots to do. It’s not quite as hurried as most think it is, but usually, within a week of the funeral, the heirs are starting the process of handling all of the paperwork that needs to be handled.

You can make this all much easier by getting together a packet of information for the executor of your estate and the attorney and professional advisor who has worked with you in making your estate plans. It’s best to start this process long before you think you need to do so, and to let your friends and family know where the documents are.

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By Elizabeth McKinney
Attorney, English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

DeathtoStock_Wired4Most people don’t give much thought to who will be their estate executor. Often, the automatic choice is a spouse or a child. The person chosen is often the person closest to the person creating the will.

But this isn’t always the best strategy. As we know, and you have no doubt seen at some point in your life, emotions run high after a death, and items that were near and dear to the decedent’s heart become prized possessions, and sometimes, those items are worth a lot of money. A prized piece of art may have much more than sentimental value.

The executor of your estate may not be prepared to deal with all of these emotions, and if they’re someone close to you, they may find that they’re processing their own grief while trying to meet the demands of friends and family waiting to receive inherited items or money.

This is why we recommend that those creating a will take a long, hard, objective look at who they choose as the executor of their estate and really examine if the person they’ve chosen is capable of carrying out your wishes without creating long-term problems for your family and friends.

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By Elizabeth McKinney, Attorney
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

wills and trustsMany people believe that if you have a will, that document controls who receives every asset you own. But that’s not necessarily true. A will or other similar documents, such a trust, can dictate who gets most assets, but beneficiary designations for certain assets, such as 401(k)s and life insurance, as well as transfer on death or payable on death designations on bank or brokerage accounts, supersede that. Those accounts should be reviewed periodically, but particularly after a major life change such as a death or a divorce.

For example, if you change your will to indicate your new spouse should receive your assets after your death, as you probably should, but you didn’t change the beneficiary for your Individual Retirement Account (IRA), your ex could end up with the proceeds of that account, much to the surprise of your new spouse.  Most people set up those accounts and never revisit the information attached to it, which is where problems come in.

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marital status estateBy Nathan Vinson, Attorney

English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP

Facebook has a neat little box that you can check to indicate your relationship status. There are some options that are clear cut – or at least seem to be: married, divorced, single. There’s another option that’s becoming more popular as of late called “it’s complicated.” It’s a handy box to check when life is messy.

Unfortunately, though, there’s no “it’s complicated” box to check in legal documents. In the eyes of the law, you’re either single, legally separated or married. There’s no in-between for marital status.

The lives of Luther and Shirley Mills definitely fell under the “it’s complicated” category, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals recently ruled on whether or not the couple was legally married at the time of Luther’s death. At stake was Luther’s estate.

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By Nathan Vinson, Attorney 
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP

just married photoAs early as 2000, states began grappling with the issue of same sex marriage. Some states allowed unions. Some allowed marriage. Some didn’t allow either. Now, with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, all states must allow and recognize same sex marriages. So moving forward, what happens at tax time if you’re married in one state but live in a state that previously didn’t recognize same sex marriages?

The American Bar Association offered an online Continuing Legal Education seminar by attorneys Patricia Cain and George Karibjanian recently to help tax attorneys sort through some of the more difficult legal issues surrounding same sex marriage.

It’s been a mess, frankly, for same sex couples.

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