Unless you have not had to access to social media, a newspaper, or television in recent weeks, it is likely you have heard the name, Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein is now widely known for his alleged sexual assault of underage girls spanning a number of years. Allegations include assaulting girls in New York, Florida, and other locations, and more recently, he was charged with one count of sex trafficking of a minor and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking. He pled not guilty to these crimes and was being held in jail in New York.
Two days before committing suicide in his jail cell, Epstein signed a will. Victims who allege assault by Epstein have filed a lawsuit against his estate. In his will, Epstein left his estate to a private trust. It is estimated that his estate is worth more than $577 million. The victims of Epstein suing the estate might have a difficult time making a claim on his assets now that they have been left to a private trust.
The use of a private trust in an individual’s estate is not new. Using a trust is often a strategic move based on the needs and wants of the individual preparing the estate documents. Accusers who filed a civil suit against Epstein’s estate face a tough legal battle for monetary damages. The criminal suit against Epstein died with him, but his estate is still subject to civil suits. If the criminal case had gone to court and Epstein had been convicted, it would have likely been easier to collect monetary damages in a civil suit. The elimination of the criminal suit does not eliminate the possibility of recovering in a civil suit, however.
One possible scenario for those suing Epstein’s estate is that they will be locked in a legal battle for many years. Epstein’s will was filed in the Virgin Islands. There will be no money leaving the trust until all claims are settled.
While the use of a trust could create some legal roadblocks, there is the possibility that all of Epstein’s assets were not transferred into the trust before his death, especially since it was signed only two days before his death. Additionally, even if all assets were transferred before his death, there is a possibility that the transfer could be deemed fraudulent. This is because Epstein was facing criminal charges when the transfer was made and the courts could rule the transfer of property as fraudulent and therefore the assets would be available to those pursuing damages because they are not a part of the trust.
While your estate plan will likely never be as contested as Jeffrey Epstein’s, it is important to have a solid and legal plan nonetheless. Knowing that your assets will be handled in your preferred way after death provides peace of mind to most people. The estate planning attorneys at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji are here to help you create an estate plan specifically tailored to your needs and wants. Contact us today for a consultation.Read More
Both individuals and businesses make donations to charities. While donations are generally always welcomed, there are financial implications and considerations surrounding a donation that must be considered. A donation does not need to be an outright gift; there are other options available for donation purposes. It can be beneficial to set up a charitable remainder trust to donate to charity. A charitable remainder trust is an instrument that provides for donations to charity, while still allowing the donor to make income off of the property in the trust. A charitable remainder trust is an essential part of a financial plan that should be considered before making a large charitable donation or gift.
The Basics of Charitable Remainder Trusts
A charitable remainder trust is made by the settlor (the person setting up the trust) and transferring the property that is intended to be in the trust into the trust. The charity intended to receive proceeds from the trust is the trustee. The principal of the trust is invested and the settlor receives a portion of the trust in the form of an annuity. If the settlor dies, or the period of time specified for the trust elapses, the remainder of the trust is then distributed to the charity.
A charitable remainder trust is irrevocable, meaning that the trust cann ot be changed. When the property or assets are transferred into the trust, the trust is then the owner of the assets or property. Legal control of the property is transferred the trust. The charity must be an approved charity. Approved charities are usually those that are a tax-exempt organization under IRS definitions.
Types of Trusts
There are two main types of charitable remainder trusts:
- Charitable Remainder Unitrust: The annuity amount that is paid to the settlor is calculated annually as a percentage of the fair market value of the property donated in the trust.
- Charitable Remainder Annuity Trust: The annuity amount is a fixed percentage, meaning the settlor receives the same amount throughout the life of the trust
Benefits of a Charitable Remainder Trust
There are many reasons you might choose to set up a charitable remainder trust for donations.
- Tax Breaks: There are tax implications of a charitable remainder trust. The settlor is able to take a deduction over five years for the value of the gift being given through the trust. Additionally, there are no capital gains tax when the asset or property is sold.
- Receiving Income: The settlor is able to receive income over the life of the trust.
- Pursuing Philanthropic Goals: The settlor is encouraged to make charitable contributions, but is able to still generate income for themselves.
- Creditor Protection: Assets in the trust are generally protected from any creditors.
If you want to set up a charitable remainder trust, consult with an experienced attorney at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji. All of the benefits of the trust do not eliminate the complex process of setting up the trust. Contact us today to get your trust set up in the correct manner.Read More
An asset protection trust is a tool that is used to hold assets in a separate vehicle so that they cannot be taken by creditors. When an issue arises that could result in a lawsuit, the party seeking compensation will try to sue the party with the deepest pockets. An asset protection trust is an option for assets to be legally held in a separate tool so that the owner can still enjoy the benefits of the assets, but does not have direct ownership. There is both Domestic Asset Protection Trusts (DAPT) and Foreign Asset Protection Trusts (FATP). There are many advantages to an asset protection trust.
Legal Opportunity to Protect Assets
When facing a lawsuit and the possibility to paying a large sum of damages, there may be the temptation to conceal assets. This is illegal, and failure to disclose assets during a lawsuit could be considered perjury. An asset protection trust allows the owner to transfer ownership of their assets and avoid criminal charges. Creditors do extensive research to find assets. If you think that you will be able to successfully hide assets, you are wrong and will likely be caught. It is best to utilize legal means of asset protection.
Becoming a Less Favorable Subject of a Lawsuit
When someone is filing a lawsuit, they are likely going to target the party with the deepest pockets. When your assets are placed in an asset protection trust, you become a less favorable target for lawsuits. If the party being sued does not have assets that are available for creditors, the likelihood of being sued decreases. Plaintiff’s attorneys in civil lawsuits often work with a contingency agreement in place. This means that they do not collect money upfront for work to be completed, but instead will take a percentage of the damages awarded. The plaintiff’s attorney will likely conduct a preliminary search before taking on a case. If the attorney discovers the adverse party does not have assets to collect upon, then he or she is not likely to take the case.
The motivation behind most lawsuits is money. Having less money or fewer assets than other parties involved in a case may put you at an advantage. The less money you have, the less likely you are to be pegged an easy target to collect upon at the end of a lawsuit.
Hire an Experienced Asset Protection Attorney
We live in a litigious society. No one is immune to lawsuits. You do not have to be a billionaire to be concerned with protecting your assets and wealth. Speaking with an asset protection attorney can be a life-changing move. The attorney at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji is a member of the Asset Protection Council. This is a group of attorneys, CPAs, and Financial Advisors committed to asset protection. Contact us today to find out how we can help you protect your assets.Read More
Think about all the ways you try to protect your safety in day-to-day life – wearing a seatbelt when you are driving, making sure that the airbags in your vehicle function properly, having working smoke detectors in your home, and having renters/home insurance. These are just a few of the ways that average people protects themselves from injury, accident, or other unexpected life events. You are prepared for day-to-day emergencies, but are you prepared with someone to make medical decisions if you can not? Or someone who can take over your finances when you are unable to manage them? An estate plan can deal with these issues and more.
What is an Estate Plan?
Before you can have an effective estate plan, it is important to understand what that is. An estate plan is the method by which a person can dictate how his or her estate should be administered after death. It can also include contingencies for what should happen during one’s life should a person be unable to care for him or herself or make important decisions.
The most common part of an estate plan is a will. This is the document executed during one’s lifetime that dictates the way that assets will be distributed after death. The execution of a will has many strict requirements in the state of California. To ensure that it is properly prepared and executed, an estate planning attorney can help you.
While a will is the most commonly thought of estate plan, there are other components. A power of attorney is also part of an estate plan. This is legal documentation giving another individual power of attorney, or the ability to make decisions on behalf of another person. For example, a power of attorney can give another the ability to make financial determinations and health decisions.
How do I Set Up an Estate Plan?
The first step to establishing an effective estate plan is talking to an experienced attorney. An attorney will be able to explain the requirements needed for each element of an estate plan. The preparation of an estate plan begins with a discussion about what you want to happen with your assets following death. Your attorney will make sure that the documents are executed properly and will stand up to scrutiny of the court should there be any challenges.
Why Have an Estate Plan?
When people die without a will or any legal documentation describing what they want to be done following their death, they are leaving those decisions up to the courts. Probate is the process by which the courts will settle a deceased individual’s estate. If the deceased has a will, the court will verify the will and then the terms of the will are followed. Without a will or plan, the court decides how assets will be distributed. Without a will, or estate plan, you are leaving the future of your assets up to the courts. It is important to have an estate plan so that your wishes can be carried out after death.Read More
For most people, planning for their death is not an enjoyable activity. However, we must all come to terms with our mortality and make sure that we put a plan is in place for how our estates will be handled following our death. An estate plan can encompass many different documents and plans. When most individuals think of an estate plan, they think of a last will and testament. Is a will enough to protect your assets and save your family from struggling to deal with your assets? It might not be.
While a will can cover many assets and account for potential problems that might arise, there is no way to guarantee that it will cover any and all contingencies. This is not to say that a will is not beneficial. For any California resident, having a will in place is a great start to their estate planning process. A will can not be ignored. It is essential to include a will in your estate plan because it includes a lot of important information about your wishes after death.
Wills in California
A will is a legal document that outlines the way you would like your assets to be dispersed following your death. It provides written directions for the handling of your estate and provides a step-by-step process for your loved ones. Additionally, a will can include any final words that you wish to tell your loved ones. While the will provides the basic directions, there are additional documents that are needed to complete an estate plan.
Additional Estate Planning Documents
A will provides for the distribution of assets, but it does not provide for incapacitation or consider tax implications or benefits. Therefore, additional documents are necessary to complete you estate plan. There needs to be a plan in place in the event that you are suddenly unable to care for yourself. The following are additional documentation that should be included in an estate plan:
- Healthcare power of attorney: This is a legal document that names a person who will be responsible for your medical care in the event that you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This saves time and confusion during medical emergencies so that there is no delay in life saving decision making.
- Financial power of attorney: Similarly to a healthcare power of attorney, the financial power of attorney names a person to take over your financial decision-making when you are unable to.
- Healthcare Directive: A healthcare directive states what you wish to be done if you are incapacitated in the hospital. This is different than the power of attorney. This is prepared by you to dictate whether you want to be resuscitated, how long you want CPR to be performed, and etc.
The estate planning attorney at the Law Office of Kris Mukherji is here to help you create your estate plan. We want to help you create a complete estate plan to give you the reassurance that your affairs will be handled as you wish following your death. Do not wait on this important documentation and planning; contact us today.Read More