Avoiding estate disputes

Posted on November 8th, 2012 No Comments

When a person has their will drafted, they expect that their family will honor their decisions. Sadly, as estate sizes increase, so to the chances that someone will find something in how it is handled objectionable. There are many things you can do to reduce the chances that your beneficiaries will contest your will.

The most obvious method of avoiding conflict is making your intentions as clear as possible while you are still alive. Sometimes recording a video that explains why you have made the decisions you did can help clarify your intentions and reduce the chances someone will have grounds to object to them.

A more direct way to prevent estate conflict is to include an in terrorem clause in the will. Such a clause states that any beneficiary who is set to receive a significant gift will have to forfeit it if they contest the will.

While there is no surefire way to ensure that an estate will go uncontested, enlisting the services of an estate planning attorney can help you make your intentions clear.

Battle over boxer Arturo Gatti’s estate continues

Posted on September 7th, 2011 No Comments

The wife and family of boxer Arturo Gatti, who was found dead at a Brazil resort in 2009, continue to battle over his estate.

Although Gatti’s wife, Amanda Rodrigues, was originally arrested under suspicion that she had a part in her husband’s death, she was later released when Brazilian police claimed that the boxer had actually taken his own life. Gatti’s family, manager, and close friend, however, do not believe he would kill himself.

According to a childhood friend, Rodrigues had a bad temper and had actually physically abused Gatti in the past. The friend testified that Gatti wanted to end things with his wife. However, the couple left their estates to each other in their wills.

Gatti’s family is wishing for his will to be annulled by the court, and his manager has hired a private investigator to look into his death. The private investigator believes that Gatti was murdered, and plans to make his findings public.

If you need assistance preparing your estate, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2965 today.

Market volatility can help ease estate planning

Posted on August 26th, 2011 No Comments

Market volatility, exceedingly low interest rates, and an increase in the federal gift-tax exemption could benefit wealthy families who hope to shelter assets from taxes.

Individuals involved in estate planning can take advantage of these events through discounts, GRATs, and loans.

For those who have a large amount of stock in privately held companies, the current stock market allows them to give away the stock at a greater discount. A grantor-retained annuity trust, or GRAT, works best when interest rates are low and should be considered if a person has stock in a publicly traded company or a family business. The low interest rates and stock prices of today also make funding an investment by an intrafamily loan a good idea.

If you want to get your estate in order in this volatile market, contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C. by calling 281-362-2865 today.

James Brown Estate Battle Continues

Posted on August 10th, 2011 No Comments

The battle over the estate of James Brown continues.

According to court documents, the trustee of the late soul singer’s estate, Adele Pope, has asked the South Carolina Attorney General’s Office to get involved in the estate battle. Pope wants the Attorney General’s office to verify the value of the singer’s estate.

The original trustees claimed the estate is worth more than $85 million. Current trustees claim the “Godfather of Soul’s” estate was worth only $5 million dollars when he died. Pope questions that assertion. In a complaint filed last week in Newberry County, she asked the court for the final version and all drafts of a document called the James Brown Legacy Trust, which she says should be public record.

Brown’s surviving family members have filed a lawsuit against Pope and her fellow trustees seeking restitution. The family previously objected to Pope’s selection of several irreplaceable family heirlooms to auction to pay estate expenses, including a Grammy Award.

If you need assistance preparing your estate, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2965.

Jim Reeves Estate Battle Nearing a Close

Posted on July 27th, 2011 No Comments

The long, strange battle over the estate of late country musician Jim Reeves may soon be over.

Earlier this month, Nashville Seventh Circuit Court Judge Randy Kennedy ruled that the dispute would be narrowed to the interpretation of a 1976 will written by Reeves’ widow.  A trial has been tentatively set for October.

The country crooner died on July 31, 1964 when a single-engine private plane he was piloting crashed. His widow, Mary Reeves, took over managing Reeves’ posthumous career. She has released only a portion of the 100 demos that Reeves had recorded and stored away during his lifetime.

In the mid-1999s Mary signed away her late husband’s entire catalog of songs in exchange for $7.6 million in two promissory notes from United Shows of America. The company was owned by a former bank official named Ed Gregory Jr. He sold most of Reeves’ collection of memorabilia. The administrator of Mary’s estate had filed a lawsuit in 2001, challenging the transactions. This battle went on for more than four years, until a new will surfaced in 2005.

Mary Reeves’ second husband, Terry Davis, claimed he discovered in an old safe a one-page, handwritten will that Mary had allegedly written years before, leaving him the bulk of her estate, including all rights to Reeves’ music, royalties, and legacy.

If you are involved in an estate battle involving contested wills, please contact the Houston Contested Will Lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Supreme Court Ends Long-Running Anna Nicole Smith Estate Battle

Posted on June 23rd, 2011 No Comments

The Supreme Court ruled against the heirs of Anna Nicole Smith Thursday, ending a long-running estate battle that has outlived all the main players.

The nation’s highest court denied the estate of Anna Nicole Smith’s attempt to capture some of the $1.6 billion estate left behind by her late billionaire husband. The court ruled that a bankruptcy court’s decision to give the now-deceased Playboy Playmate $475 million from the estate of Texas oil tycoon J. Howard Marshall was decided incorrectly.

Marshall and Smith were wed in 1994, and he died the following year. Marshall’s will left his estate to his son, E. Pierce Marshall, and nothing to Smith. A California bankruptcy court later awarded Smith part of the estate, but the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal said that a bankruptcy court could not make a decision on an issue outside of bankruptcy law.

Smith’s estate appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, which sided with Marshall.

If you need assistance with estate planning, please contact the Houston Estate Planning Attorneys of Garg & Associates, P.C., by calling 281-362-2865.

Judge to Appoint Reciever in Hotelier’s Estate Battle

Posted on May 27th, 2011 No Comments

A judge in Florida said Monday he will appoint a receiver to manage the finances of a corporation that is at the center of an estate battle.

At the center of the estate battle is JBDK LLC, a corporation that was jointly owned by Myrtle Beach hotelier Dorothy Anderson and her husband, James Anderson. Judge Larry Hyman said he is concerned that Bert Anderson, a personal representative of his mother’s estate, has been given no information about how much money has passed through a a company checking account.

According to court documents, James Anderson transferred all of his interest in the corporation to the couple’s other son, Bobby, who has blocked Bert Anderson’s access to the checking account and has refused to provide an accounting for the funds. Bert Anderson filed a lawsuit against his father and brother, claiming that half of the money in the company checking account belongs to his mother’s estate.

If you need assistance with estate planning, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., at 281-362-2865.

Spring clean your estate plan

Posted on May 6th, 2011 No Comments

Experts have said that Spring is not just an optimal time to clean your house, but it is also a great time to review documents like your estate plan and make sure that it is in working order.

Life is constantly changing, and so your will should reflect those changes. Estates should be updated if the composition of a family has changed, for example if you divorce, remarry, or have children. Also, if you have lost or gained assets, these should be written into your estate.

Estates should also reflect any changes in legislature that will affect estate taxes. These laws can change every few years so being up to date on your will can assure that your loved ones receive exactly what you intended them to in the event of your death.

If you or someone you love needs help planning an estate, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, P.C., at 800-242-2151.

Estate Planning Will be Affected by Tax Relief Act

Posted on April 1st, 2011 No Comments

With 2010’s Tax Relief Act, which was enacted in December, many changes were made that will effect the planning of estates. Rates were significantly lowered and exemptions were raised, which will impact estate planning for at least the next two years.

The act essentially makes it possible for money to be given away as either a gift or in an estate and not be taxed. This change is temporary, as it will only be going on until the end of 2012. This new act will be helpful to beneficiaries of large estates because they will be faced with less taxes upon inheriting an estate.

If you or someone you love would like help planning an estate, please contact the Houston estate planning lawyers of Garg & Associates, PC, at 281-362-2865.

Brief summary of new tax cut extension package

Posted on January 13th, 2011 No Comments

The tax cut extension package that was passed last month made significant changes to laws that pertain to estates and gift taxes. Different demographic groups will be affected in different ways by the new rules.

In summary, the new laws state that:

  • Both the federal estate tax exemption and the federal gift tax exemption rates for 2011 and 2012 are now set at $5 million
  • If an estate or gift surpasses the $5 million exemption, a flat tax rate of 35 percent is applied to the excess

Last year, the gift tax exemption was $1 million. For now, these new laws will be in place over the next two years, but may change in 2013.

If you or a loved one needs legal assistance planning an estate, contact the Houston estate planning attorneys at Garg & Associates, P.C. by calling 281-362-2865.

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Garg & Associates, PC | 21 Waterway Avenue, Suite 300 | The Woodlands, Texas 77380 Please call 281-362-2865 | Fax: 866-743-4506
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