Planning

So You Just Won the Lottery

Did you recently win $1.6 billion? Time to hire a good attorney! The Chicago Tribune discusses tips and pratfalls from past lottery winners, including a Munford, Tennessee, family who bought a winning $560 million PowerBall Ticket at a Naifeh’s grocery store in 2016. Sage advice for when you hit your future jackpot.

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Aretha Franklin's $80 Million Estate in Limbo

If recent history is an indication, Aretha Franklin’s estimated $80 million estate could be in for a contentious battle, according to Rolling Stone. The Queen of Soul left no will when she died, so according to Michigan law, her estate should be evenly divided among her four adult sons: Ted White Jr., Kecalf Franklin, Edward Franklin and Clarence Franklin. However, the possibility of unreleased music, royalty streams and the likelihood of numerous financial accounts increases the likelihood of this being contested in court. 

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How the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Affects Estate Planning

A recent article on Lexology highlights changes to estate and gift taxes in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which doubles those ‘death tax’ exemptions. The exemptions will continue to be adjusted annually for inflation and are set to expire in 2025.
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Considering Pet Trusts

Estate planning is a complex, nuanced process, so great care must be taken in dealing with the many critical decisions involved. An often-overlooked aspect of this process is considering care for a pet in the event of the grantor’s disability or death. As animals almost completely rely on a caretaker for their basic needs, this is a truly important designation. 
 
Pet ownership helps aging humans maintain an active lifestyle and overcome feelings of loneliness and depression. Including a pet trust in one’s estate plan allows persons at every stage of life to enjoy the benefits of pet ownership while overcoming the concern many caring pet owners express, “but what if something happens to me?  Who will care for my pet then?” A pet trust can answer these questions and help assure quality care for the lifespan of the pet.
 
Animals with especially long lifespans, such as horses (average lifespan of 30 years), birds (15-60 years, depending on species), tortoises (40-100 years, depending on species), and certain other reptiles (tuataras – a type of lizard native to New Zealand –  can live more than 100 years), can benefit from having an estate plan in place that includes care of these animals.
 
When constructing a pet trust, it is important to provide funding for the long-term care of the pet. It can be wise to designate a trustee to oversee the trust funds designated for the care of the pet and a different person to serve as caretaker of the animal. In this way, sufficient checks and balances may be put in place so that adequate care of the animal is assured and the possibility of malfeasance is minimized.
 
A pet trust may be an appropriate estate planning device in any number of situations, from elderly folks with one lap pet to large animal owners who want to provide long-term care. By keeping these arrangements in mind, we can better serve our clients and the animals that depend on them.
 
Esther L. Roberts is an East Tennessee Delegate of the executive council and served as inaugural chair for the Tennessee Bar Association's Animal Law Section. Roberts is the CEO of Global IP, a law firm specializing in intellectual property and IP mediation and founder of Tennessee Pet Trusts. She holds degrees from Lipscomb University and the University of Tennessee College of Law. Roberts can be contacted at 865-607-9780 or esther@globalipam.com

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