Estate and Probate

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Probate Litigation Explained

What issues often give rise to probate litigation?

Under Arkansas law, when a person dies with property, his or her estate will go through a process known as probate. Probate involves the accounting and gathering of assets to be divided and dispersed in accordance with the descendant’s will or state law.


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Monday, May 28, 2018

The Future of Estate Planning

Does estate planning still matter with the passage of the new tax bill?

Traditionally, much of estate planning revolved around avoidance of the so-called death tax. The death or estate tax applied to individuals or couples who died with over a certain amount of assets. When applied, the death tax could consume nearly half of the deceased person’s assets. However, with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the death tax has become nearly obsolete. The new tax law now raises the estate tax exemption to $11.


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Monday, May 21, 2018

What Happens to Your Cryptocurrencies When You Die?

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a virtual form of money that is only used for online transactions. Cryptocurrencies do not have intrinsic value because they are not redeemable for another commodity such as gold or silver. However, cryptocurrencies can have substantial value. This form of currency does not have any physical form and only exists online. Therefore, it can be a challenge to ensure that the asset is not lost when someone dies.


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Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Estate Planning Is Not Just About the Death


Who can make medical decisions on my behalf if I become incapacitated?

For single individuals without children, estate planning may seem like an unnecessary endeavor.  Some of us may simply not care who receives our assets after our death.


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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Building a Better 401(k) Plan

What can my business do to enhance its 401(k) plan?

Today, employees no longer rely on traditional pension plans for their retirement because defined contribution plans like 401(k) and 403(b) plans have replaced guaranteed retirement income, or defined benefit, plans. Defined contribution plans, however, were not designed to be the only source of retirement funding and many plan sponsors are concerned that their employees will not have enough money saved.

Some observers believe it is time to upgrade defined contribution plans so that they function more like defined benefit plans. That being said, most employers believe the onus is on the employees to contribute more to their plans, without considering the possibility of enhancing the employer-sponsored match. What these employers fail to consider, however, is that employees will invariably decide to work longer which will lead to higher healthcare costs. This, in turn, will have a negative impact on the business.

Keys for a Good Defined Contribution Plan

There are a number of ways for a plan sponsor to provide maximum value to a 401(k) plan including:

  • Employer Match -- Increasing the amount employers are willing to contribute may encourage employees to save more
  • First Day Eligibility--The majority of plans now allow workers to begin making pre-tax contributions immediately which can ensure that employees do not fall behind in saving
  • Immediate Vesting -- Top-rated plans offer immediate vesting of employer contributions
  • Fees - Administrative fees for recordkeeping, accounting, marketing and investor education should be stated in a dollar amount in the statement and kept low
  • Investment Options -- Plan participants should have a range of investments to choose from, including mutual funds, asset allocation funds, and target date funds
  • Automatic Enrollment  -- The majority of plans offer automatic enrollment, unless employees opt out, which optimizes participation rates
  • Access to Financial Experts - Because many employees do not have investment knowledge, they should be provided with investment advisory services

Ultimately, plan sponsors need to evaluate their plans in relation to the plan participants with an eye on total plan costs, company generosity, salary deferrals and account balances and encourage participants to maximize their contributions. If you are a business owner looking to establish a defined contribution plan, you should consult with a qualified business attorney with expertise in retirement plans.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Estate Planning Tips for Blended Families

Estate planning is necessary at every major life milestone: birth, marriage, death of a beneficiary, divorce and remarriage. For blended families, there are special issues to consider to ensure that children, as well as the new spouse, are properly cared for.  If documents are incorrectly drafted, the situation can become especially complicated. Bearing in mind the needs of a new blended family, consider the following common scenario: 

Daniel (age 65) has two children from a prior marriage, Marian (age 40) and Emily (age 38). His second wife Beatrice (age 68) has one child from a prior marriage, Eric (age 36). Daniel and Beatrice have simple wills leaving their entire estate to the other with contingent gifts to the three children in equal shares. Daniel passes away first, leaving his entire estate to Beatrice. Over time, Beatrice moves away to be with her child and changes her will, leaving everything to Eric. Marian and Emily are now completely cut out of Daniel’s estate and have virtually no legal recourse against either Beatrice or Eric. 

As you can see, this scenario is far from unimaginable, and could easily impact any blended family with children. 

One of the most common goals of a testator with a blended family is to ensure both children and the surviving spouse are adequately provided for – which can be accomplished through the use of a relatively simple trust. One option is known as a Qualified Terminable Income Property (Q-TIP) trust. This type of trust allows for a surviving spouse to access income from trust property for his or her lifetime, while preserving the corpus for the benefit of the grantor’s adult children. This arrangement is often accompanied by a no-contest clause to prevent children and heirs from objecting to the arrangement after the testator has passed away. 

If you are concerned about your estate and would like to ensure that your wishes are adequately addressed, please do not hesitate to contact the Arkansas estate planning attorneys at Hyden, Miron & Foster, PLLC, today: (501) 482-1787. 


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