3 Tips to Avoid Family Conflicts in Estate Planning

Whether you are creating an estate plan for the first time or making changes to one, be aware that how you plan to leave your assets may create tension in your family. Although the potential for conflicts can develop without a Will, different treatment of children or other beneficiaries as part of a well thought out and drafted estate plan can cause animosity among family members.

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North Carolina Bill Affecting Digital Assets

digital estate planning north carolinaRecently we reviewed the challenges of digital estate planning—the ways surviving family members’ access to a decedent’s online accounts are affected—and how accessibility is determined by individual account policies. With no North Carolina laws governing digital afterlife yet, many families have struggled to gain access to online banking, investments, frequent flyer miles, and more.

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Digital Estate Planning Challenges

Estate planning has always involved a great deal of paperwork. Today, individuals have personal access to online banking, social media accounts, and email that has pushed the industry into a new realm: Digital estate planning.

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3 Asset Protection Tips for 2013

As North Carolina business owners and other taxpayers adjust to the effects of the 2012 American Tax Payer Relief Act, they are starting to focus on asset protection strategies at the same time as minimizing taxes to the fullest extent possible.

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3 Tips For Succession Planning

Estate plans and trusts preserve assets accumulated over a lifetime and distribute them to beneficiaries, but what happens to a business when the owner or key executive departs to another company, becomes ill, or passes away? Succession plans create the selection process for the future architecture of an organization by appointing certain individuals to take over positions in the event an executive leaves their role. Succession plans are to businesses as prenuptial agreements are to marriages.

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Company Buy-Sell Agreements - Plan Ahead

One estate planning tool that can protect your family and partners is a buy-sell agreement. This legal document gives owners the first chance to buy an interest in the company if another owner pulls out or dies. Ideally, these contracts are drawn up when a business is launched, but they can be entered into later.

But don't wait too long. If you die without an agreement, it may be difficult for your heirs to know how to handle important matters that could have a significant effect on the value, continuation or disposition of your business. Even if you stay with the company for decades, the time to prevent disputes is before they occur. Minimize legal fees, as well as sleepless nights, by solving "what if" issues now.

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Estate Planning Lessons from the Waltons

What Can We Learn from Sam and Helen Walton?
by: Larry W. Gibbs

Contemporary estate planning causes a division of an estate and results in an ultimate dissipation of the resource base over a period of years. Is it possible to keep the resource base together to serve the family for many family generations? The Sam and Helen Walton story tells us how we can do so. The King Ranch story provides another illustration of what can be done.

Sam Walton's autobiography was published shortly before his death in April of 1992. Sam Walton writes about building a business and entrepreneurship. He also talks about the building of an estate plan. Most of the information I provide comes from the book. Other information comes from those who knew Mr. Walton or members of his family.

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"First-to-Die" Life Insurance Now Available

Second-to-die life insurance has long been used by married couples to provide liquidity to pay estate taxes at the death of the second spouse to die.  Such insurance is less expensive and easier to obtain than two separate policies on the same individuals.

Now, life insurance that pays out at the first death is available. The Phoenix Companies, Inc., of Hartford, Connecticut, has released its Phoenix Joint Advantage universal life policy.  A single policy will insure two lives, covering couples who need cash for support when the first of them dies, and small business owners who need funds to purchase a deceased owner's interest.

The product has several options, such as a survivor purchase rider, which enables the survivor to purchase a new policy without undergoing further underwriting.

Given the usefulness of this type of policy for estate and business planning, I predict other companies will follow suit.


Questions for the Family Business Owner

Owners of family businesses face unique estate planning challenges. Far too often, owners fail to plan properly, or at all, which can ultimately lead to higher estate taxes, conflicts among family members, and even failure of the business. If you own a business - take a look at this entry and seriously ponder these 32 questions.

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