Audrey wrote, “The funeral director is very helpful in making the arrangements and will advise what steps should be taken. If possible, it would be advisable to make a few decisions BEFORE setting up an appointment.”
These decisions range from the immediate matter of organizing a funeral ceremony and selecting the nature of the deceased’s burial or cremation to managing financial transfers from the deceased to his or her heirs.
One useful tip is to prioritize settling the affairs and transitioning the assets of the deceased. Be sure to cancel the deceased’s appointments and either cancel or re-direct pension checks and Social Security benefits to a surviving spouse as soon as possible. You should consider adding a co-signer for bank accounts to streamline this process for an elderly parent.
Compiling all necessary documents of the deceased is also an important step. For example, Audrey recommended ordering copies of the death certificate immediately to be issued to the deceased’s banks, life insurance companies, medical insurance companies, pension companies and the Social Security agency.
She also advised bringing the cemetery deed to the funeral home, as well as preparing checks for expected expenses, including the headstone, the excavation of the grave, funeral fees and fees for ceremony personnel such as an organist.
Making ceremonial decisions in advance, preferably with regard to the previously stated wishes of the deceased, can reduce stress and uncertainty after a loved one passes away. These decisions may include the number of receiving dates, who will serve as pall bearers, whether the casket will be open or closed and the type of flowers that will be present at the ceremony, or whether burial or cremation is desired.
Having a plan can make even the most tragic occasion more manageable and turn it into a celebration of life. By following Audrey’s sage advice, you can spend less time organizing logistics and more time honoring the life and legacy of your loved one.
May 13, 2019
If you are an experienced Trusts & Estates Attorney looking for a new opportunity, consider a partner-track position with Donohue, O’Connell & Riley PLLC. We are an established firm of over 40 years with annual revenues of $2M+. Our Exeter office is located in a desirable, affluent community an hour from Boston.
The ideal candidate will have 5+ years of experience in Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Administration. Knowledge of personal finance, basic tax, investment and accounting is a plus. New Hampshire and/or Massachusetts bar admission required, with New York a plus. The successful candidate will be a professional self-starter with strong follow-through and good technology skills, who is comfortable managing one paralegal and working alongside other attorneys and support staff.
Donohue, O’Connell & Riley PLLC is a regional boutique law firm with five offices in three states. Today our team serves as trusts & estates counsel to the needs of over 6,000 businesses & individuals, advising them on how to reduce taxation and structure their personal affairs to preserve their legacy and ensure a smooth transition of assets between generations. For more information about the firm, please visit www.docrlaw.com.
Job Type: Full-time, no remote or work-from-home.
Competitive salary based on experience.
To apply please send your resume to Heidi Bogle via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
May 6, 2019
In 1969, Patrick and Ann Murphy became the proud owners of a lovely cottage on the easterly shore of Pleasant Pond in Bethel, Maine. They spent summers enjoying the peace of being surrounded by nature and dreamed of future generations making memories during their summer vacations and holidays.
Eleven years later, Patrick and Ann followed through on their vision and gave the Murphy cottage in equal 1/7 shares to their seven children with gift deed. That is when the trouble began.
The Murphy family is now celebrating 50 wonderful years of family gatherings and adventures and their great-grandchildren are truly blessed by their legacy. Though, as the current owners make plans to pass their shares to the next generation, they are taking responsible Estate Planning steps and would like other families to learn from their valuable experience.
For starters, had Patrick and Ann had consulted an attorney in 1969, they may have decided to transfer the property through a trust, instead of with a simple gift deed, which would have allowed their children to benefit from a step-up in basis.
Next, as these seven children made their marks on the world, many of them followed opportunities that led them away from home. Their children ended up living in states outside of Maine including New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maryland and Arizona. This geography led to challenges since there was no formal management agreement in place. The owners relatively close-by in Massachusetts and New Hampshire were able to enjoy the cottage more, but were also disproportionately responsible for the labor-intensive responsibilities of maintaining a seasonal cottage. The more distant owners in Maryland and Arizona questioned why they need to make equal financial contributions to upkeep and maintenance since they weren’t able to spend as much time enjoying the cottage.
Then, in the mid-1990’s one of the siblings passed away suddenly and had not done any estate planning. Along with mourning the tragic loss of their brother emotionally, the extended family had to deal with complex, time-consuming, expensive intestacy proceedings in two states.
To complicate matters further, when four of the children decided to sell off their 1/7 shares, one of the children’s spouses volunteered as an attorney to handle the legal paperwork as a cost-savings favor to the siblings. Unfortunately, down the road minor issues such as missing spousal consent waivers required in Maine jurisdiction had major ramifications, so the family would have been better off doing everything by the book instead accepting the good faith effort of a family member.
When Molly, one of the two remaining owners with a 75% share, arrived at our firm to do her Estate Planning, she wanted to make sure the Murphy cottage would be saved as an important part of her legacy and passed on smoothly to her children and grandchildren. Our firm facilitated conversations with Molly and her brother Matthew, the other 25% owner, to bring their wishes to fruition.
Our firm coordinated with local Maine counsel and family members to run a full title search, execute corrective deeds, and transfer the property into the Murphy Cottage LLC with a clear governance structure.
The Murphy Cottage LLC established terms including:
- Schedule for contributions to the annual budget and a replenishment of the capital fund based on ownership share;
- Decision making guidelines for improvement projects;
- Cottage use rules of conduct to make sure everyone shows respect for the property and its natural setting;
- Fair labor compensation rates for members that have the time, skills and geographic ability to contribute to tasks such as opening and closing, moving docks and boats, and doing major projects such as building a deck, fixing the structural issues and repairing the rotted screen porch;
- Allocation and reservation process for prime weeks and procedure for owners offering their weeks to other family members for an agreed reimbursement fee;
- Succession plan for current owners to designate their direct descendant children as the family branch’s new owner in their individual Trusts;
- Buy-out clause for any owners that are delinquent and are not able to stay in good standing;
- Process for selling shares and option for sale of the entire property in the event that 2/3 owners are in agreement.
Thanks to Molly and Matthew’s efforts, future Murphy generations will be swimming in the pristine fresh water, playing with tadpoles and frogs, fishing for trout off the edge of the canoe, reading books on an Adirondack chair, hiking to the top of Mt. Baker for breathtaking views and drifting off to sleep to the eerie, beautiful calls of the loons.
If you have a summer home that you want to preserve as your legacy, contact us today.
March 15, 2019
Looking at the retirement landscape through a tax lens, where you retire can have a big impact on your spending power and quality of life. This view of State by State Tax Comparisons was created specifically to assist you in your estate plan process.
Consult with your attorney for the best strategy, including moving your assets to a NH trust no matter where you live.
March 12, 2019
There are a host of complicated terms associated with the legal practice of estate planning, but the Donohue, O’Connell & Riley team prides itself on making the process as simple for our clients as we can. Download our free comparison chart to learn if a Will, Revocable Trust or an Irrevocable Trust is best for you here.
February 26, 2019