November 30

Fight Anxiety with Preparation


We live in an anxious society. Many of us worry about our families, our jobs, and whether we can make ends meet. Anxiety can manifest itself physically, cognitively, or emotionally – and sometimes, all three. Stress is common, normal, and part of navigating through life. While everyone experiences anxiety for different reasons, these five situations are when it may be the most prevalent:

  • When the outcome is perceived to be important
  • When the situation is new
  •  When there is unpredictability
  • When you feel like you have no control over the outcome
  • When you are dealing with other life stressors at the same time

Think about the most exciting ventures we partake in. Consider events such as starting a family, starting a new job, or traveling. All the best parts of life come with an undertone of anxiety because it’s important to us, it’s new and unpredictable, we don’t always have control over the outcome, and we are always trying to balance everything happening at once.

The key to overcoming anxiety is confidence, and the key to confidence is preparation. Being prepared for life’s unpredictability and making sure your family is taken care of would alleviate your stress on a day-to-day basis. Having a financial game-plan for your family for all scenarios puts you back in control of the most important aspects of your life.

Zack Etter (of https://www.mymentalplaybook.com, Master of Education focusing on sports Psychology and also conveniently Attorney Etter’s little brother) recently worked with a baseball player who was having difficulty hitting a curveball. Would it be sensible to have said, “We better hope the pitchers only throw fastballs?” Of course not. Having a plan in your back pocket for the worst-case scenario, and knowing that when it comes, everything is going to be okay – that’s the best way to minimize anxiety in an unpredictable world.

Wiley Etter, LLC provides clients with the opportunity to ease their anxiety. By preparing for life’s curveballs, we can ensure that your family remains protected! Wiley Etter, LLC focuses its clients to accomplish their strategic goals. Concerned about a partnership dissolution? Sign an operating agreement. Concerned about an unexpected death or disability? Prepare a Revocable Living Trust.

Whatever is causing you anxiety, we believe that meeting with a qualified planning attorney will help reduce your anxiety and help your family thrive! Taking care of your family and finances in a thorough, responsible way, provides unmatched comfort. Let’s turn one of life’s biggest stressors into a positive, freeing experience. You can take the first step to taking better control of your finances today.

Check out, Zack Etter’s new book https://www.mymentalplaybook.com/ and ask yourself, how will sports analogies help you gain control of your financial future!

August 24

What Happens When I Die Without a Will?

There is a common myth that if you die without a Last Will & Testament, or another estate planning device, that the government will take all your assets. With the exception of rare circumstances, the government does not simply gain a decedent’s assets. Rather, each state has devised its own set of rules that govern where your property will go.

Dying “Intestate”: The Goods News

When someone passes away without a Last Will & Testament, it is said that they die “intestate”. In comparison, a person who dies with a Will is said to have passed away “testate”. In sum, each state has enacted it’s own “intestacy” laws that provide what happens to a person’s property when they die without a Will or other estate plan.

An example of an intestacy law is New York’s EPTL 4-1.1, which provides that if the decedent dies intestate with a spouse and no children, the spouse inherits everything. In the alternative, if there were a surviving spouse and children, the spouse inherits the first $50,000 plus half the balance of the estate assets and the children inherit everything else. In sum, the statue provides different rules for different situations.

Dying “Intestate”: The Bad News

Some may say that the intestacy laws seem to work well for their situation. What if I just have a wife and I want everything to go to her anyway? For a few this might be fine but ordinarily individuals are mistaken and unaware of some of the repercussions of dying intestate.

First, there are potential state and federal tax issues when a person with significant wealth does not properly plan their estate. Similarly, there is limited protection from any possible creditors who may try to make a claim against your assets once they are disclosed in the probate court process.

Second, there is a lack of privacy for anything admitted to probate including a will. However, in many instances a properly constructed “pour over will” and trust can keep your assets out of probate and the public eye. Pour over wills and trusts will be the topic of an another article.

Third, the cost and amount of time spent during the probate process can be exhausting. In most states, there are various fees associated with the admission of intestate or testate estates to the probate court. Further, the role of the court appointed administrator of an intestate estate or an executor of a testate estate oftentimes becomes time consuming, complex and frustrating depending on the amount and nature of the estate property as well as the decedent’s family.

Fourth, in most instances the decedent would like to control where their money and other personal or real property goes and when. Even if you express during your lifetime how you would like your property distributed, it will have no effect because the statements were not made in writing and in conformity with the law. For instance, if a father tells his daughter “I want you to have this antique cabinet” and there was a room full of witnesses, the law still controls where that antique will go.

Lastly, and the most common concern, is that a distant family member comes out of the woodworks in an attempt to stake their claim. Sometimes the law is on their side and the intestacy scheme directs money to an estranged brother, sister etc. Other times, the law is not on their side yet the estate may have to be defended in court, which can cause further costs and complications.

What Can Be Done?

Fortunately, there are several simple ways to make life easier for surviving family members when you pass on. The lawyers at Wiley Etter, LLC are here to assist in the utilization of varying legal devices to ensure that each client can rest easy knowing that their estate and ultimately their loved ones are taken care of now and down the road.
Call us today! (203) 301-8722
Jerome L DiMenna III, Esq.
Wiley Etter, LLC
August 24, 2018

August 24

Estate Planning: When to Start

Many mistakenly believe that they do not need an estate plan. Some assume that they are too young, or that they do not have enough money. However, this could not be further from the truth. Anything can happen, for better or for worse. For this reason, the lawyers at Wiley Etter, LLC are here to assist in the preservation and proper allocation of your property in the present as well as in the future.
What is an Estate Plan?

An “estate plan” is a broad term that essentially entails the preparation of property/asset transfers in anticipation of the incapacitation or death of an individual. The most common device utilized in an estate plan includes a Last Will & Testament or Trust, which in its most basic form instructs an individual “Executor” or “Trustee” how to distribute property to which person once its owner passes on. There are also certain trusts that instruct how property should be allocated during the lifetime of the owner of that property. For instance, a father may create a trust fund for their child that is protected from creditors and will be used for a specific purpose such as a college education. Or, an elderly or disabled individual may place their home “in trust” to become eligible for Medicaid while preserving equity. The topic of trusts and the variety of purposes in which they serve will be the subject of another article.

Another common estate planning device would involve what is commonly known as a “Power of Attorney” which appoints someone to take care of an incapacitated individual’s financial affairs while they are unable to do so. Similarly, an “Advance Directives” allows someone to make medical decisions on behalf of someone not able to do so themselves.

It does not take long to realize that a plan for your financial and medical well-being can become quite complex. Nevertheless, there are tools available to ensure that you, your family and your property are taken care of. Whether it be a simple Will providing for a small family, or a complex asset protection and tax matter, DiMenna & Langweber LLP is available to help.

Why Everyone Needs a Plan

Assuming that you own too little or that you are too young is a common mistake that oftentimes leaves surviving loved ones confused, anxious and overwhelmed. Firstly, everyone owns something. Whether it be a savings account, 401(k), a pet dog, or a million-dollar piece of property, chances are you own something you care about. Secondly, anything can happen. What if you suddenly get sick, win money, have a kid, two kids, three kids? Without a plan, the state and/or judge will determine what happens to you, your property and potentially your family.

If you die without a will or trust, your state’s “intestacy” laws will determine where your property goes and a judge will decide who administers it. For most, this is less than ideal. There is also the concern of “guardianship” over any children that you may have. When there is no testamentary document specifying who you wish to care for your child, it could be left to the courts.

Without providing an exhaustive list of disaster scenarios, it should become apparent that a little time spent planning now can prevent a lot of hardship down the road. The point of this article is not to alarm you, but rather to inform you of how a simple meeting can alleviate stress now and later.

Contact Us Today!

We are licensed to provide estate planning services in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. Our lawyers are available today to provide no nonsense advice custom made for each situation. Call us now! (203) 301-8722

Jerome L DiMenna, III, Esq.
Wiley Etter, LLC
August 24, 2018

April 5

Tomb Raider – Missing and Presumed Dead

Credit- http://www.tombraidermovie.com,

**SPOILERS**

The remake of the beloved action movie series, Tomb Raider, delivered a great mix of action, myth and suspense while interweaving some pretty advanced Estate Planning concepts that we deal with every day.  Playing in theaters worldwide, the film begins with Lara Croft, played by Alicia Vikander, struggling with her father’s absence and possible death.  Lara’s life, like many of today’s youth, seemed to lack a clear direction until she was put in a board room to review her father’s Last Will and Testament and was made to come to grips with his death.

This brings up an interesting question: When someone goes missing, how long is it until he/she is presumed dead? The Connecticut General Statutes Sec., 45a-446 gives us some indication as to how a Connecticut Court would handle the situation.

Sec. 45a-446. Distribution when heir, legatee or distributee is presumed to be dead. Liability of fiduciary. (a) If, at any hearing before a court of probate on an application for an order for the distribution of the estate or for the payment of legacies provided for in the will of a deceased person whose estate is in process of settlement in the court, it is found by the court that any person who if living would be an heir at law of such decedent, or a legatee or distributee under such will, has been absent from his home and unheard of for a period of seven years or more next prior to the date of the death of the decedent and until the date of such hearing, the court shall find as a presumptive fact that such person died prior to the death of the decedent whose estate is in settlement, and shall order such distribution of the estate or payment of such legacies as would have been made if such person was known to have died prior to the death of the decedent whose estate is in settlement.

In Connecticut, Lara would have had to wait 7 years to file in probate to close her father’s estate.  At that point, assuming no one had heard from him, there would be a presumption that he is deceased. In the case of Tomb Raider, there ended up being more to Lara’s father’s situation than meets the eye. Let’s just say there is a bittersweet reunion in the movie, and Lara has her father’s Last Will and Testament to thank for that.

Estate Planning plays a big role, especially in the lives of the loved ones left behind.

If you think your loved one has gone missing, or if you are struggling with any situation or following the death of a close family member, contact Wiley Etter, LLC, and we will help you navigate through this tricky process.

(Read about how a proper Guardian Angel Trust can be designed to motivate your heirs to become accomplished adults in our next post.)

 

July 31

Game of Thrones – Troubled Heirs

Credit- Home Box Office, Inc, http://i.lv3.hbo.com/assets/images/series/game-of-thrones/episodes/2/11

**SPOILERS**

This week, Season 7 Episode 3 of Game of Thrones aired, entitled The Queen’s Justice. Throughout much of the episode, the sinister Queen Cersei Lannister sought her long-awaited revenge on those who have previously wronged her (now deceased) children. There is no doubt that Cersei Lannister came out on top, due to her strategic planning. However, one might argue that Cersei would still have her children in her arms if she had just made sure to plan for one thing in particular—how to protect her children from themselves.

After Cersei’s husband’s death, her thirteen year old son, King Joffrey Baratheon was  given too much power too quickly. Instead of being a responsible and noble king, young Joffrey wasted his time by spending money on women in brothels, as well as torturing and killing many innocent people. This behavior ultimately led to his murder. Perhaps if Cersei and her husband had appropriately planned for their son to take over the Iron Throne, she would have protected him from himself. Now, Cersei’s legacy will end with her.

As legacy planners, we find it extremely important to educate others on the many benefits of a Guardian Angel Trust. One of these benefits is that the “Guardian Angel” Trust can provide exact limitations or guidelines on what the named beneficiaries can do with the assets that are being passed to them. Think about it– a parent has an 18-year-old child who is known for (or at risk of) spending his/her money on drugs and alcohol. If the parent passes away, the child is given an inheritance, and there is no limitation on how the child can spend the money. This is a classic fact pattern that brings up the concerns of many parents. Wouldn’t you want to make sure that the money you are giving to your child is being used in the way you would have wanted?

Guardian Angel Trust provide a “blank canvas” that allows for customized instructions on how and when distributions can be made. Instead of leaving your assets to the questionable judgment of an 18-year-old, you are given the opportunity to protect them from the many temptations and negative influences that they may face daily. You can rest easy knowing that your loved ones are being responsible with the assets given to them.

Now, ask yourself—who are you leaving your legacy to? And more importantly—how are you going to protect them?

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