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According to multiple news reports, Robin Williams’ wife, Susan Williams, stated that she was forced into taking legal action against Robin Williams’ children concerning his estate. She told “Good Morning America” in an interview which aired recently that, “Two and a half weeks after Robin had left, I was still in shock, not back in our home. I was told that I might not be able to keep our wedding gifts. That, ‘In fact, while you’re out of the house, we need to come and take everything out, and eventually, once we’ve gone through it all, tell us which items are yours and we’ll decide whether or not that’s true.”

A press report stated that Robin Williams’ trust had laid down guidelines about what was to go to whom, much of the disagreement revolved around what counted as celebrity memorabilia and what should be considered personal keepsakes. Also at issue were the expenses involved in maintaining the couple’s Tiburon, California home. The comedian’s third wife also got emotional describing her reaction to “Good Morning America” about the dispute over an estate said to be worth $100 million.

Susan Williams said, I’ll never forget being on the phone with one of the trustees and saying, ‘What is this? I know Robin Williams is famous — he’s my husband. He’s my husband. If we’re talking that you guys think everything is memorabilia, then take me. He’s touched me. Where does this end?'”Legal representation for Robin Williams’ children told the L.A. Times that Cody, Zelda and Zachary had been “following both the letter and the spirit of Robin’s instructions” and couldn’t understand why Susan Williams was “challenging the estate plan he so carefully made to provide generously not only for them but for her as well.” The actor left much of his estate to his kids, whom he had with his first and second wives.

No one wants to think about leaving their kids and family behind when they pass away, however, if you have the best estate plan possible for your family, then you can make sure they will be well taken care of. When your kids are old enough to be on their own at college, it may be a good idea to update your estate plan to reflect these changes in your life. Here are some things to consider so you can make sure your estate plan is right for you and those you love. Also, once you have considered these things, you should speak to an estate planning lawyer at the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions you may have and help you decide on the best options for you.

You may be wondering what will happen to all the money you have saved once you are gone. Perhaps you worry that your kids will spend all of it on things they don’t need or that they will stop pursuing an education or maybe that someone will take advantage of them to get the money they inherited. These are worries that many parents have. There are a few things to consider to keep your family safe and protected even if these or other things occur.

Consider creating a Trust for your Child

We all want to protect one property, assets and loved ones after we pass away so that they can still have a bright future. Typically, a person trying to protect their assets and their loved ones will have a will drafted for them. However, there are many more options these days that a person may choose instead of having a will. Since there are so many different choices and options, it is best to speak to one of our estate planning lawyers at the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions you have, talk to you about your needs and situation and help you choose the plan that is best for you and your family.

There are several ways to transfer assets at the time of death without the probate of a will. Some of these ways include but are not limited to:

Estate planning can be a difficult and confusing process. This process can be made even more complicated when you have a business or foundation that your family members may be involved in. This appears to be the case with Paul Newman’s family. The Newman’s Own company and foundation started in 1980 when actor Paul Newman and author A.E. Hotchner began making homemade salad dressing and giving it to neighbors as Christmas presents who came by as they were caroling. Newman’s Own made a profit of almost one million dollars two years later and donated most of it to charity. Then in 1993, Newman’s daughter Nell began Newman’s Own Organics, a division of the company. Newman’s Own now makes pasta sauce, popcorn, salsa, frozen pizza and other products, and the company has stated that it has given away more than $400 million to charities such as summer camps for seriously ill children.

Newman had his attorney draft a letter in 1999, that stated his intention to give his children the major voice in distributing funds for charity. He stated these intentions again in meetings in 2006 with family members, lawyers, and accountants and it was also on a 2007 video interview.

After Newman went into the hospital changes were made to his estate plan and on April 11, 2008 he rewrote his will and appointed two associates to controlling positions in the Newman’s Own Foundation on July 29, two months before his death. When his will was read, his family members learned that Newman’s daughters would not be on the board of the Newman’s Own Foundation and that millions of dollars for their personal foundations would go instead to Newman’s wife’s marital trust. Newman’s family now claims that Newman’s Own, and its foundation are being  mismanaged by the man who’s served as chief executive for several years. The dispute has to do with concerns about the changes Paul Newman made to his estate plan in his final years.

There has been a lot of news about the Sofia Vergara embryo case. However, beyond the public’s desire to look into the life a celebrity, the reason a case like this so important is because it may affect laws, policies and regulations about how to handle cases similar to this one in the future. It may also help to answer questions about legal obligations in these kinds of cases.

The Sofia Vergara embryo case raises questions and sparks debate about things such as what should a judge decide if a woman or a man has undergone subsequent treatment for cancer and is therefore left incapable of producing gametes that would make it possible to be a genetic parent in the future or what if something has emerged that would question whether a person would be a fit parent, such as committing a serious crime against a child.

In one case, a judge in a divorce case made the ruling that embryos are “community property” and that awarding the embryo to the wife was “just and right and a fair and equitable decision.” Later, that decision was overturned by the Court of Appeals for the First District because it was noted that the couple’s original contract was enforceable because it demonstrated “a voluntary unchanged mutual intention of the parties regarding disposition of the embryos upon divorce.” Another case with no previously written agreement, an earlier decision to award the frozen embryos to the wife was reversed by an appeals court on the grounds that the husband had a constitutional right not to be forced to father a child.

Many people may believe that they do not have to be worried about federal estate tax if they do not make a large amount of money, but if you have a substantial amount of life insurance, own a home or have a good retirement account or plan, there are some things you need to think about and consider when it comes to estate tax. If you have questions or concerns about how estate tax may affect you and your family, you should talk to a estate planning lawyer at the Higgins Firm. We will help you to determine the best plan for you and answer any concerns you may have.

So, you may be asking what exactly is included in estate tax? Federal estate tax includes assets such as proceeds from any life insurance you may have, any house or property you own including vacation and rental properties. It also includes retirement plan accounts, vehicles, furniture, any valuable collectibles you may have and any other property and items you own. Finally, if you have shares in a family business or corporation those are also included.

If you are single, any life insurance coverage you may have is subject to federal estate tax. If you are married, it is not that big of an issue because the life insurance benefits would go to the surviving spouse tax free because of a marital deduction. However, this only applies if your spouse is a citizen of the United States.

When someone you love passes away, you may inherit property, money, or other possession if that person names you in a will. If there is no will, then a court may decide who gets to have what and you may get little to no say. It is not only important to have a will though, it is also important that you follow all the rules and guidelines about making sure a will is valid in your state. This is why if you are wanting to have a will drafted, it is a good idea to talk to a estate planning lawyer with the Higgins Firm. We will answer any questions or concerns you may and help you to draft a will that protects your property and loved ones even if you no longer around.

In a recent case, the Court of Appeals found a Will was invalid after one of the decedent’s heirs filed a will contest alleging that the decedent’s will was not properly executed.  Specifically, the heir argued that because the will was not signed by witnesses according to the law the Will should be thrown out.   Tennessee Code Annotated Section 32-1-104 requires that the testator and at least two witnesses sign a will any non-holographic will.

The world tragically lost a Blue’s icon recently and it looks like the families troubles are continuing in probate court. The four daughters of the late musical icon BB King, Patty King, Karen Williams, Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree, have had their lawyer file new legal documents in probate court, indicating that there is another will by their father who in his 2007 will named his long-time business manager, LaVerne Toney, as the sole executor of the estate. Riletta Mitchell, another daughter was listed second, but she died in September of last year.

Apparently, BB King’s daughters have been at odds with LaVerne Toney and Myron Johnson, another personal aide for months. They claim that Toney misappropriated funds and mistreated BB King before his death, and also claim King had been poisoned. According to news sources, in the legal papers, the daughters only accuse Toney of being unqualified to be the executor of BB King’s estate.

BB King’s daughters also allege that Toney denied King the proper medical care he needed and also changed the locks on his home so that when the BB King died on May 14th, he had no family and friends with him. A lawyer representing Toney and the estate dismisses the claims and states that they are completely ludicrous’ and ‘unsubstantiated by any true facts’. These new accusations come before the daughters are scheduled to appear in court for a hearing regarding BB King’s will.

In dealing with a tough family situation, many times stress and turmoil can become magnified causing even the closest of families to disagree on a number of issues. Whether it is disagreeing about the way an estate should be administered or who should be put in charge to handle a loved one’s finances, unfortunately these disagreements can have a lasting impact within a family. Parents may simply assume that any beneficiaries would get along and be on the same page if anything were to ever happen. However, any potential rifts can be prevented with proper estate planning. The following provides some easy ways to prevent any potential feuds or disputes when a stressful situation arises.

Having a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney

If a parent becomes seriously ill and is unable to make decisions for him or herself, many seemingly simple decisions can become complicated. The parent may not be able to handle his or her finances. If one of the children attempts to take over the financial matters, there is obviously the potential for issues between the children. One child may think that he is more apt to handle the finances while another child may think that she is better suited. Having a power of attorney allows the parent to choose who her or she thinks is best suited to handle the finances if a situation arises. There is much less room for a dispute knowing that the parent has made the decision. Similarly, having a health care directive like a living will can ensure that the parent has his or her decisions written down rather than assuming that mom or dad would have wanted or not wanted certain treatment in a situation.

Although the number of divorces throughout the country have risen over time, the process certainly has not become any easier for those who have to endure it. The effects of a divorce can be long lasting and far reaching even affecting areas that you would not immediately think of, like an estate plan. If you have recently gone through a divorce, the last thing that you want to think about is dealing with any more documents. However, it is important to update the documents that comprise your estate plan following a divorce. If you have questions regarding an update to your estate plan, contact a Tennessee estate planning attorney at The Higgins Firm.

There are a number of documents that a divorce can affect. You should be sure to update all of your financial and legal documents to reflect your new status. Some of these changes can be as easy as changing a name or an address while others may be a little more involved.

Update Your Will