When we ask our clients about digital assets, many respond that they don’t have any. That is not the case for most people. Do you have a bank account or brokerage account that you can access on your computer or phone? What is the user name and pass word for the account? Do you have a Facebook or Twitter account? Again, what are user names and pass words for the accounts? Even if your executor or trustee as the representative of your estate has the user names and pass words for the accounts, does your representative have the legal authority to access the accounts? This is an area of the law where there are no absolute answers at this time. Until we have legislation covering such assets, you should at least attempt to cover said digital assets in your estate planning documents. If you have not already done so, consider updating your estate planning documents to cover your digital assets.
When you of think decanting, you think of wine when you transfer the contents of a wine bottle into another receptable before serving which makes the wine taste better. In the estate and trust area, the term refers to transferring assets from one irrevocable trust to another trust. Many other states had statutes permitting decanting under certain circumstances, and as of January 1, 2013 Illinois has its own statute. Heather McPherson has written an article entitled “Pour Me Another Trust” which was published in the November issue of the Illinois State Bar Association’s Elder Law Section Newsletter. The article describes the circumstances where decanting would be beneficial, and how it is actually done. This is just another tool that experienced estate planners can use to be sure that the intentions of their clients are carried out by their estate planning documents. As Heather states in the article “Decanting is a great tool for practitioners to use in one’s estate, trust, and elder law practice, because it allows trusts that could otherwise not be changed to be rewritten to adjust to changed circumstances, as well as for corrections to trusts that were poorly drafted.”
A Chicago man 46 years old buys a lottery ticket and wins a million dollar jackpot. Days before collecting a lump sum settlement of $425,000 he dies. The night before he died he had dinner with his wife, daugher, and father-in-law. At first it was ruled that he died of natural causes, but when tests were made, it was determined that his blood contained a lethal level of cyanide His death is now considered a homicide, but no one has been arrested. The wife and daughter by a previous marriage reached a settlement dividing his estate. He did not have a will. The moral of this story is that if you win the lottery, be sure to tell everyone that you have a will and that none of them are beneficiaries under the will. That way everyone will have a reason to keep you alive! See story at http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2013/12/12/fatally-poisoned-lottery-winners-daughter-wife-divvy-up-his-estate/