A young single mother with a toddler successfully won a harassment suit against a former employer and received a favorable settlement. She had her tax return prepared by a well-known tax preparation service, which made several errors in the preparation of her tax return after failing to understand the significance of the information she provided about the settlement. We took on her case and ultimately saved her over $30,000.00.
We recently had a case where a young woman and her husband placed the young woman’s mother on title to their house, as a tenant-in-common, in order to obtain more favorable financing. However, they did not document the mother’s intent not to acquire an actual interest in the property. Unfortunately, the mother tragically and abruptly passed away in an accident, which subjected her estate to claims from Creditors. As a result, the young woman and her husband were at risk of having 1/3 of their house subject to Creditors. We successfully filed a Petition to Determine Heirship of the property and convince the Court that the mother intended to acquire a legal interest only, and not a beneficial interest, in the property. Thus, the mother’s estate no longer has an interest in the house and the house is no longer subject to the claims of Creditors.
We prepared an Estate Plan for a long-time client, who had recently begun the process of building his dream house. Shortly thereafter, the client was hospitalized and was debating whether to sign the contract to build the house. After consulting with us, the client, who was doing much better and expected to fully recover, decided to sign the contract on begin construction based largely upon our advice. Unfortunately, the client did not recover. However, sign the contract was executed and work had commenced allowed us to deduct the full amount of the contract as debt which reduced his estate taxes by over $600,000.00 when we filed and prepared his Estate Tax Return.
Often times, the death of a parent heightens the animosity that has existed for many years between the children. On one case a feud developed between four brothers and their sister surrounding the ownership of a house and its contents, which the deceased parents had left to all of the children, as a part of their Trust Estate. To help avoid costly litigation and the depletion of the Trust’s assets, we negotiated a settlement between the siblings allowing the sister to receive the brothers’ interests in the house, plus a small amount of cash, in exchange for her one-fifth (1/5th) interest in the Trust’s other assets. The settlement resulted in the resolution of the immediate problem, saving thousands of dollars in litigation costs and avoiding further delays in closing administration of the Trust, but more importantly, permanently separated the children from co-owning the house and several other investments, which would have led to additional future litigation because of their animosity toward each other.
We represented a widower who, along with the decedent’s child from a prior marriage, was a co-trustee of a trust drafted by another attorney that was set up to primarily benefit the child. Both the decedent and the widower were previously married, with children from their prior marriages. The Trust was poorly drafted and had ambiguities that created uncertainty in the administration of the Trust. The drafting attorney explained how the trust would work to the widower and decedent, and their children from their prior marriages when it was created, indicating that the surviving spouse should receive the income from the trust, while alive, and that the decedent’s child would receive the trust’s assets after the surviving spouse’s death. After the decedent’s death, the widower administered the trust as it was explained to him, taking the income from the trust when he needed it, paying taxes on that income, and then making gifts to the decedent’s child roughly equal to the income less the taxes paid, and even contributed his own funds to the trust to replace the income taken from the trust per the drafting attorney’s directions. The decedent’s child had the trust reviewed by his counsel eleven (11) years after the decedent’s death, as part of a transaction to acquire a property for the trust, and ultimately sent a letter demanding a $500,000+ amount to reimburse the child for the income he alleged he was entitled to and did not receive. We were able to utilize the widower’s daughter to help negotiate a favorable settlement for less than half of the demanded amount, on top of preventing excessive litigation costs and potential claims and punitive damages for breach of fiduciary duty.