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Minneapolis Estate Planning and Probate Lawyer Blog

Monday, August 6, 2012

Gay Marriage and Inheritance Rights, Part 4: Discussion of Probate Court Ruling That Gay Spouse May Inherit

This series of posts examines the unique case brought before the Hennepin County Probate Court in which a same sex spouse sought inheritance rights over $250,000 worth of assets from his deceased spouse's estate. Recall that Mr. Morrison and Mr. Proehl were legally married during the brief window in California and later returned to Minnesota - a state that has a statue prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriage - where Mr. Proehl died suddenly of a heart attack.  In question were approximately $250,000 worth of life insurance proceeds and in a solo bank account in which Mr. Morrison was not named a beneficiary.

After unsuccessfully fighting to have the insurance company and bank issue the money to him, Mr. Morrison filed suit in Hennepin County Probate Court arguing that he was entitled to Mr. Proehl's estate because they were legally married in California. In a unique - and surprising - decision, the court agreed and ordered the $250,000 paid to Mr. Morrison.

As noted in my prior post, I am thrilled with this outcome for Mr. Morrison but caution that it may also cause some unintended consequences. A few issues that come to mind.

What if you break up?

 I know many couples who traveled to a state (Iowa, Massachusetts or New York) or country (Canada) to get married in a jurisdiction in which same-sex marriage is legal and some of those couples are no longer together.  But, because the marriage is not valid in Minnesota and due to the residency requirements (of 6 months or more) in most states, the couples never divorced.  What happens if one member of that “broken relationship” dies? Will the “ex”, but still-legal-spouse-in-another-state, be able to inherit from the deceased?

Do you have to be "same-sex married" in a jurisdiction where it's legal?

Another question: Would this only work for couples who got legally married in another state?  My partner and I have been together for almost 7 years and we have a 5-year-old daughter together. and are registered domestic partners in Minneapolis.  If my partner dies without a will, am I currently entitled to the same inheritance rights as Mr. Morrison or do we need to travel to Iowa (actually, I would choose New York) to get married so it’s legal somewhere? And what if we go to Illinois and get a civil union? Does that count?

Will gay couples rely on this decision?

As an estate planning attorney in Minnesota - a state increasingly restrictive of the right of gay couples to marry - I worry that potential clients will hear about this and interpret it to mean that they don't need to properly plan for an emergency. I want to be sure to point out that the judge in this case clearly stated that this was "unlike any that has come before Minnesota's probate court." When I hear that language, I think that it's a "one-off" decisions and may not be repeated. Further, this is not a binding case as it's only at the district court level. Another thing to note is that Mr. Morrison did still have to spend time and money in court fighting for what should have - easily - been his. If Mr. Proehl had named Mr. Morrison as a beneficiary OR in a valid will, those $250,000 worth of assets would have been in Mr. Morrison's hands within a couple of months without legal intervention. Please don't rely on a court to save you, but call my firm and get a plan in place now! If you mention this blog post, I will waive my initial consultation fee because it's that important to me to help this community (and so I know someone reads this).

What if other heirs dispute the partner/spouse's inheritance rights?

What if other family members object to the surviving partner/spouse's inheritance? It doesn't appear there will be any opposition to the Proehl decision as it was clear that Mr. Proehl's surviving family members all believed that Mr. Morrision was his husband and therefore entitled to the proceeds. But, will the outcome be the same if someone is there to dispute it?

While the decision does raise further questions (as complex legal questions often do), let me be clear that I am thrilled for the LGBT community and applaud Referee Borer and Judge Quam for what is clearly the right choice in this situation.

 

 


Thursday, August 2, 2012

BREAKING: Gay Marriage and Inheritance Rights, Part 3: Court Rules That Gay Spouse CAN Inherit!

A Minneapolis Lawyer Discusses the Recent Hennepin County Probate Decision on Inheritance Rights for Same Sex Couples

As a lawyer who specializes in the field of non-traditional families, I have to admit that this is an outcome that I would never have predicted.

Two of my prior posts discussed the inheritance issue facing James Morrison of Hennepin County, Minnesota.  Briefly, Mr. Morrison legally married Thomas Proehl in California during the brief window in which same sex marriage was permitted in that state.  Upon their return to Minnesota Mr. Proehl died of a heart attack and Mr. Morrison subsequently learned that there was $250,000 in life insurance benefits and in a solo bank account for which Mr. Proehl had not named a beneficiary.  Further, Mr. Proehl did not have a will specifying where his estate should go in the event of his death.

After failing to make his case with the insurance and retirement companies, Mr. Morrison argued to the Hennepin County Probate Court that, because they were legally married in California, he was entitled to inherit the $250,000 from Mr. Proehl's estate.  In a surprising ruling yesterday, the Hennepin County Probate judge agreed and granted Mr. Morrison the right to inherit the $250,000.

Referee George Borer held that Minnesota’s Defense of Marriage Act (MN DOMA) does not deny a same-sex partner the right to inherit the other’s assets.  His opinion noted that the MN DOMA bill as initially drafted included language prohibiting “the benefits of marriage” to same-sex couples but that language was removed prior to passage into law. Referee Borer stated that the removal of “benefits of marriage” language appeared to be an “intentional legislative compromise that allowed the passage of this bill.”  Hennepin County Probate Judge Jay Quam signed off on the referee’s order stating that the Legislature’s rejection of the “benefits” language was not accidental and acknowledged that this case was “unlike any that has come before Minnesota’s probate court.”

The judge also noted that what made Mr. Proehl and Mr. Morrison different was “that they were a married, same-sex couple in a state where that status is legally unwelcome.”

This is a great outcome for Mr. Morrison and I hope he can put this all behind him now as I must have been emotionally wrenching to have this drag on for so long.

I certainly feel this is the right decision for this couple, but I fear it may lead to some unintended consequences.  I will discuss these possible issues in the next post in this series.

 

 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gay Marriage and Inheritance Rights in Minnesota, Part 2

A Minnesota Estate Planning Lawyer Discusses Issues Related to Estate Planning a Probate for Unmarried Couples

My prior post discussed the facts of the unique case of Thomas Proehl and James Morrison, a male couple who legally married California before returning to Minnesota.  Mr. Proehl died suddenly of a heart attack leaving a combined $250,000 in an insurance policy without a named beneficiary and a solo bank account.  So, what's the problem?  Well, who is entitled to receive that $250,000 in assets?

If there is no beneficiary stated on a life insurance policy (or retirement account) the institution holding the policy (or funds) will turn to the local probate court for help.  Institutions do not want to make these decisions so will hold the funds until a court tells them how to pay them out.  So, how does a court know what to do with these funds?  There are two ways: 1) check to see if the decedent left instructions (i.e. a will); and 2) look to the state law.

Is there a will?

The first step in the determining how to pay out Mr. Proehl's $250,000 was to see if he had a will.  As noted in prior posts, a will is set of instructions on how, and to whom, a decedent wants his/her probatable assets paid out.  If Mr. Proehl had drafted a legal will stating that all of his assets were to be paid to Mr. Morrison, a court would have ordered the insurance company and the University of Minnesota to immediately cut a check to Mr. Morrison.  Unfortunately, Mr. Proehl did not have a will so the court must now look to the second method of determining how to pay probatable assets.

What Does State Law Say?

If there is no will, the decedent is said to have died "intestate" (literally meaning "not testate").  For someone who died without a will, the probate court will turn to state law to guide it in determining how to pay assets.  In Minnesota, the state statute governing the payment of assets where there was no will is known as the law of intestate succession.  These statutes provide the court with very clear instruction on the "order of descent" (e.g. priority list) for any assets passing through probate.  At the simple level (the point of this post is not provide a lengthy explanation of intestacy succession) assets passing through intestacy are paid in the following order:

  1. To a legal spouse; then
  2. Any legal child(ren); then
  3. Living parent(s)
  4. To descendant of parent (i.e. sibling); and then
  5. To any living grandparent(s).

If there are more than one in any group (class) then the assets will be divided equally "at that level."

So, first up is the legal spouse and here we immediately have an issue.  Mr. Proehl and Mr. Morrison were legally married in California so shouldn't those assets go to Mr. Morrison as the surviving spouse?  That is exactly the issue Mr. Morrison brought before the Hennepin County Probate Court last month in which he filed a petition asking to be named hair of Mr. Proehl’s estate. We will see how this comes out but it has cost Mr. Morrison dearly in time and effort to fight for what is, indisputably to those who matter, his.

The good news is that you can prevent this from happening to you!  Check your beneficiary designations and get a will now! Work with an attorney who understands the unique challenges facing couples in nontraditional estate planning.


Friday, July 6, 2012

Planning Can Help Your Family Deal With Your Death

Planning for Your Final Sendoff

Although most people don’t like to think about it, death is inevitable. It’s imperative that you have an estate plan in place that outlines your end of life wishes and how you would like your assets distributed upon your passing. As part of your planning, it’s important that you consider and make arrangements for your funeral. By planning this event before your passing, you can spare your family difficult decisions and ensure that your send off is exactly as you’d like it.

Here are a few things to consider:

Location
Funerals are not limited to churches or temples. If you’re not religious or if you want something different, you might ask that your relatives instead hold a memorial service in your honor at the park or even at the family vacation home.

Burial
Perhaps you hate the idea of being buried at the local cemetery and would prefer to be cremated. There are many options and having your relatives all agree upon one can be challenging. Be sure to make these wishes known as part of your funeral planning.  

Details    
You wouldn’t want someone picking the song for the first dance at your wedding so why would you want someone else deciding all of the details of an event to celebrate your life? As part of your funeral planning, list songs you might want played or poems which should be recited. If your favorite vacation was to Hawaii, you might want to brighten up the event with tropical flowers from Maui.

Obituary
It can be difficult to write about your life but for many writing their own obituary can help them reflect on the important things while giving them a chance to highlight their proudest moments. If you aren’t a writer or find this task daunting, consider writing a few bullet points for your loved ones so the information they share is accurate and provide a list of publications where it should be featured. Sure, your children may know that you belong to the church book group but they may have no idea that that same group has a newsletter which should share this information with fellow members.

Virtual Passwords
Traditionally when a person died, his or her children had the task of going through the old phone book and calling contacts to inform them of the news. Today, many of us connect with friends and relatives online. To help your heirs effectively communicate information about your passing, be sure to store your online passwords in a place where your relatives can find them and access the appropriate accounts accordingly.

Paying in Advance
Funerals can be very expensive and a huge burden for many families dealing with the loss of a loved one. Luckily, with the right planning, you can prepay for your funeral and save your family the expense. Generally an attorney or a funeral director can help you to determine how much money will be needed and help you to establish a trust where it will be stored until your passing.

While planning your funeral may seem to be a depressing thought at first, it is actually empowering—allowing you determine how you will say farewell to your loved ones and leaving you with peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken care of every last detail so your family can celebrate your life without the added stress of planning your funeral.  

 

 


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Minnesota Sees Increase in Number of Those Needing Medicaid

An article in the Star Tribune reported today that the number of Minnesotans on Medicaid - called Medical Assistance in Minnesota - shot up at nearly twice the national rate over the past two years, while state costs increased by 40 percent.  The total number of Minnesotans enrolled in the state-federal health insurance program increased by 125,000 in the last to years to reach a total of about 733,000.

The National Governors Association and the National Association of State Budget Officers issued a report this week stating that the growing Medicaid budget - approximately $450 billion this year - will place a large burden on sates trying to climb out of the most recent recession.

A large part of the rise in Minnesota's portion of the cost -- from $2.9 billion in 2011 to an estimated $4.05 billion this year -- is due to two things: 1) enrollees who transferred into Medicaid and out of programs that were funded solely by the state; and 2) the end of the federal government's economic stimulus package, which for a time raised the federal Medicaid match from about 50 percent to 60 percent.

Medicaid was set up by Congress in 1965 to provide health care to low-income adults and children, including some people with disabilities; it also covers about two-thirds of people in nursing homes who have outlived their savings. While low-income families represent the majority of people on Medicaid, most of its outlays go to long-term care for the elderly and disabled.

Minnesota's program is expected to add another 60,000 people by the end of 2014 with further expansion of the federal Affordable Care Act, if the law's expansion of Medicaid rolls survives the recent Supreme Court challenge.

In 2014, Minnesota's Medicaid costs are expected to rise by about 10 percent, surpassing $4.4 billion, while the federal share is forecast to soar 23 percent to $5.1 billion with the program's expansion.

In many states, Medicaid is the largest single portion of state spending, at nearly a quarter of state budgets, and some states are struggling to control costs by cutting provider payments, drug costs and other benefits, the report said,

With all this uncertainty, people should think about the possible long-term care needs not just for themselves but for parents or even grandparents.  We can't rely on government programs to be there 2, 5 or 10 years from now.  I meet people weekly who are having to make decisions on what to do for Dad or Mom - in some cases a spouse - when they can no longer care for themselves and neither can the family.  Please plan now.

 

 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Utilizing Family Limited Partnerships as Part of Your Estate Plan

Utilizing Family Limited Partnerships as Part of Your Estate Plan

Designed to preserve family businesses for future generations, Family Limited Partnerships (FLPs) can help shelter your assets and reduce overall estate and gift taxes. FLPs are commonly used as part of business succession planning, business continuity plans, and often serve as an integral component of an estate plan for high net worth individuals.

A Family Limited Partnership is typically established by married couples who place assets in the FLP and serve as its general partners. They may then grant limited-partnership interests to the children, of up to 99% of the value of the FLP’s assets. When this occurs, the assets are removed from the general partners’ estates, thus saving on future estate taxes. The general partners keep control of the FLP and its assets, even though they may own as little as just 1% of the asset value.

Limited partners may receive distributions from the FLP, and enjoy certain tax benefits. Asset protection is another attractive feature of the FLP. The partnership’s assets are shielded from the limited partners’ creditors. The interests in a FLP can be easily divided among family members, who may each own different amounts. The FLP enables ownership of a business to transfer to the younger generation, while allowing the senior generation to continue conducting operations and mentoring and grooming the young owners.

One of the significant benefits of a properly established and maintained FLP is that it can reduce the value of gifts to your children and grandchildren.  The value of each limited partnership interest which you give away decreases the value of your taxable estate and, consequently, any tax which your heirs would have to pay upon your death. The gifts are made using the annual gift tax exclusion, so you may not have to pay any gift tax on the transfer.  

Since limited partners do not have the ability to direct or control the day-to-day operation of the partnership, a minority discount can be applied to reduce the value of the limited partnership interests which you are gifting.  Therefore, the value of the partnership interests transferred to your beneficiaries may be far less than the corresponding value of the assets in the partnership.  Furthermore, because the partnership is a closely-held entity and not publicly-traded, a discount can be applied based upon the lack of marketability of the limited partnership interest.  This allows you to leverage the FLP as a vehicle to transfer more wealth to your beneficiaries, while retaining control of the underlying assets.  

With these significant tax benefits, it’s no surprise that many FLPs have attracted scrutiny from the IRS. Others have run into various problems due to mistakes or outright abuse. Care must be taken to ensure your FLP is properly established and operated.Specifically, the IRS may look at the following issues when assessing the viability of the FLP:

  • It’s not all about taxes. You stand a better chance of avoiding – or surviving – a challenge from the IRS if you can show a significant, legitimate non-tax-related reason the FLP was created. Tax savings are an important consideration, but you must be able to demonstrate that there are other reasons, as well.
     
  • Keep you personal assets out of the FLP. You can reasonably expect to transfer closely held stock or interests in commercial real estate into a Family Limited Partnership. However, personal property such as cars or residences will not fare well against an IRS challenge. Similarly, the FLP’s assets should not be used to pay for any personal expenses. The FLP must be a legitimate business entity operated to fulfill business purposes.
     
  • Have your FLP’s assets professionally appraised. Partners or family members should not determine the valuations or discounts for any assets transferred into the FLP. A qualified appraiser has a much better chance of withstanding IRS scrutiny.
     
  • Don’t push it. Many are tempted to put as many assets into the FLP as possible, to maximize the asset protection and tax savings benefits. Unfortunately, if the FLP is successfully challenged, a significant portion of a partner’s net worth could be vulnerable to taxes or lawsuits.
     

 

 


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Help Your Family Plan with a Set of Memorial Instructions

Planning for Your Final Sendoff

Although most people don’t like to think about it, death is inevitable. It’s imperative that you have an estate plan in place that outlines your end of life wishes and how you would like your assets distributed upon your passing. As part of your planning, it’s important that you consider and make arrangements for your funeral. By planning this event before your passing, you can spare your family difficult decisions and ensure that your send off is exactly as you’d like it.

Here are a few things to consider:

Location
Funerals are not limited to churches or temples. If you’re not religious or if you want something different, you might ask that your relatives instead hold a memorial service in your honor at the park or even at the family vacation home.

Burial
Perhaps you hate the idea of being buried at the local cemetery and would prefer to be cremated. There are many options and having your relatives all agree upon one can be challenging. Be sure to make these wishes known as part of your funeral planning.  

Details    
You wouldn’t want someone picking the song for the first dance at your wedding so why would you want someone else deciding all of the details of an event to celebrate your life? As part of your funeral planning, list songs you might want played or poems which should be recited. If your favorite vacation was to Hawaii, you might want to brighten up the event with tropical flowers from Maui.

Obituary
It can be difficult to write about your life but for many writing their own obituary can help them reflect on the important things while giving them a chance to highlight their proudest moments. If you aren’t a writer or find this task daunting, consider writing a few bullet points for your loved ones so the information they share is accurate and provide a list of publications where it should be featured. Sure, your children may know that you belong to the church book group but they may have no idea that that same group has a newsletter which should share this information with fellow members.

Virtual Passwords
Traditionally when a person died, his or her children had the task of going through the old phone book and calling contacts to inform them of the news. Today, many of us connect with friends and relatives online. To help your heirs effectively communicate information about your passing, be sure to store your online passwords in a place where your relatives can find them and access the appropriate accounts accordingly.

Paying in Advance
Funerals can be very expensive and a huge burden for many families dealing with the loss of a loved one. Luckily, with the right planning, you can prepay for your funeral and save your family the expense. Generally an attorney or a funeral director can help you to determine how much money will be needed and help you to establish a trust where it will be stored until your passing.

While planning your funeral may seem to be a depressing thought at first, it is actually empowering—allowing you determine how you will say farewell to your loved ones and leaving you with peace of mind knowing that you’ve taken care of every last detail so your family can celebrate your life without the added stress of planning your funeral.  

 

 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Moving to Another State and How it Affects Estate Planning

Moving to Another State and How it Affects Estate Planning

In general, wills or living trusts that are valid in one state should be valid in all states. However, if you’ve recently moved, it’s highly recommended that you consult an estate planning attorney in your new state. This is because states can have very different laws regarding all aspects of estate planning. For example, some states may allow you to disinherit a spouse if certain language is used, while other states may not allow it.

Another event that can cause problems with moving and estate planning is moving from a community property state to a common law state or vice versa. In community property states, all property earned or acquired during marriage is generally owned in equal halves by each spouse, with some exceptions, such as any property received by only one of them through gift or inheritance. The property that is considered community property includes income, anything acquired with income during the marriage, and any separate property that is transformed into community property. Separate property includes anything owned by either spouse before marriage, property received by only one spouse by gift or inheritance, and any property earned by one spouse after permanent separation. One spouse is not required in community property states to leave his or her half of the community property to another spouse, although many do.

In common law states, property acquired during a marriage is not automatically owned by both spouses. In common law states, the spouse who earns money and acquires property owns it by himself or herself, unless he or she chooses to share it with his or her spouse. Common law states usually have rules to protect a surviving spouse from being disinherited.

Whether a couple lives in a community property state or a common law state is important for estate planning purposes, because that can directly affect what each spouse is considered to own at death.

If a couple moves from a common law state to a community property state, there are different rules about what happens depending on where you move. If you move from a common law state to California, Washington, Idaho or Wisconsin, the property you bring into the state becomes community property. If you move to another community property state (Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, or Texas), your property ownership won’t automatically change. If a couple moves from a community property state to a common law state, each spouse retains a one-half interest in property accumulated during marriage while they lived in the community property state.

As you can see, the laws of different states vary significantly with respect to incapacity planning, estate planning and inheritance rights. Therefore, it’s important to contact an estate planning attorney in your new area, especially if you are moving from a community property state to a common law state, or vice versa.

 

 


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Gay Marriage and Inheritance Rights in Minnesota, Part I

Twin Cities Estate Planning Attorney Discusses Inheritance for Unmarried Couples

UPDATE: August 2, 2012 - Then Hennepin County Probate Court has ruled that Mr. Morrison can inherit as the legal spouse of Mr. Proehl. See the full story here.

A Hennepin County Probate Court is set to rule on the issue of whether gay couples who are legally married in another state but reside, and die, in Minnesota may inherit from their same-sex spouse.  Because this is such a major case for my numerous unmarried clients, I will be drafting several blog posts on why it matters.  This first post deals mainly with the facts of the case.

Thomas Proehl and James Morrison, together for over 25 years, were legally married while living in California.  Upon deciding to return to Minnesota, they sold their California home and bought a new house here.  They jointly owned the Minnesota home and had a joint checking account to pay bills.  Unfortunately, the couple did not plan for the worst happening - and it did.

Sadly Mr. Proehl died of a heart attack at the age of 46 in 2011.  In settling Mr. Proehl's estate, Mr. Morrison learned that the $100,000 profit they received from the California home sale was put into an individual investment account solely in Mr. Proehl's name.  Further, Mr. Proehl had a life insurance policy through his job at the U but mistakenly forgot to name Mr. Morrison as the beneficiary of the policy.

Between the investment account and the insurance policy, there was $250,000 that had to go through probate to determine to whom it should be given.  As you may recall from prior posts, the Probate Court will look to a decedent's will to determine how to distribute these assets.  So, who gets the $250,000?  The legal battle that ensued over this will be covered in the next post...

 

 


Monday, May 28, 2012

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An Overview

Limited Liability Company (LLC): An Overview

The limited liability company (LLC) is a hybrid type of business structure, offering business owners the best of both worlds: the simplicity of a sole proprietorship or partnership, with the liability protection of a corporation. A limited liability company consists of one or more owners (called “members”) who actively manage the company’s business affairs. LLCs are relatively simple to establish and operate, with minimal annual filing requirements in most jurisdictions.


The best form of business structure depends on many factors, and must be determined according to your particular business and overall goals:

Advantages

  • LLC members enjoy a limited liability, similar to that of a shareholder in a corporation. In general, your risk is limited to the amount of your investment in the limited liability company. Since none of the members will have personal liability and may not necessarily be required to personally perform any tasks of management, it is easier to attract investors to the limited liability company form of business than to a general partnership.

  • LLC members share in the profits and in the tax deductions of the limited liability company while limiting the potential financial risks.

  • LLCs offer a relatively flexible management structure. The business may be managed either by members or by managers. Thus, depending on needs or desires, the limited liability company can be a hands-on, owner-managed company, or a relatively hands-off operation for its members where hired managers actually operate the company.

  • Because the IRS treats the limited liability company as a pass-through entity, the profits and losses of the company pass directly to each member and are taxed only at the individual level (which may or may not be an advantage to you, depending on the profitability of the LLC and your personal income tax bracket).

  • Members of an LLC have flexibility in dividing the profits and losses. In a corporation or partnership, profits must be divided according to percentage of ownership. However, with an LLC, special allocations are permitted, so long as they have a “substantial economic effect” (e.g. they must be based upon legitimate economic circumstances, and may not be used to simply reduce one member’s tax liability).


Disadvantages

  • Limited liability companies are, generally, a more complex form of business operation than either the sole proprietorship or the general partnership. They are subject to more paperwork requirements than a simple partnership but less than a corporation. Annual filings typically include statement and nominal filing fee payable to the Secretary of State, informational returns to the IRS, and filing of a state tax return.

  • In certain jurisdictions, single member LLCs may not be afforded the same level of limited liability protection as that of an incorporated entity.

Also note that in many states, an LLC is prohibited from rendering “professional services” which can include companies providing services that require a license, registration or certification.   Such professionals typically have to establish a Professional LLC which does not offer limited liability for professional malpractice.
 

 

 


Monday, May 21, 2012

What happens if you are bequeathed a car that no longer exists? The ABCs of Ademption

What happens if you are bequeathed a car that no longer exists?  The ABCs of Ademption

If you’re involved in settling a loved one’s estate, you may come across the curious word “ademption”. Ademption describes what happens when something designated in a will no longer exists. Say, for example, your uncle dies and leaves for you in his will an old-school Harley Davidson motorcycle. However, if your uncle crashed the motorcycle two years before the will was probated and there’s nothing to leave, then that gift would be considered adeemed and you would receive nothing. This is why certain wills include language that says, “if owned by me at my death.”

However, it is important to realize that certain items cannot be adeemed. For instance, money. If your uncle died and left $7,000 for you in his will, but left a zero dollar balance in his accounts, your gift of cash would not be adeemed. Instead, the estate would be responsible for satisfying that gift, say for example, through the sale of the house or other such property.

There are exceptions to ademption, however. If the property leaves the estate after the person who wrote the will has been declared incompetent, ademption is waived.  Other states make exceptions for cases where interest in a corporation that no longer exists because the shares were exchanged with that of an acquiring company.  Your state may tackle ademption differently based on its laws, so please consult a qualified real estate or probate lawyer if you want to learn more about ademption and its exceptions.
 

 

 


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