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Danbury Legal Blog

People may delay estate plans due to family concerns

Connecticut residents with substantial amounts of wealth are often concerned about how to navigate sensitive family relationships when making an estate plan. In many cases, the more complex details of estate planning reflect family concerns rather than difficulty dealing with the funds themselves. This was reflected in one survey conducted by Key Private Bank of its clients with at least $2 million in assets for investment.

People with larger estates often have access to financial planners and attorneys for other purposes. However, they may hesitate to turn to these professionals to make an estate plan. The planning process can raise difficult emotions and, at times, decisions can complicate or clarify more challenging relationships. However, 43 percent of the survey respondents said that having no estate plan at all was the most serious mistake that a family could make. In other cases, people believe that they are too young to have an estate plan. However, when adults have substantial assets that will need to be passed on after death, it may be best to be prepared in order to avoid unintended consequences.

Dementia diagnoses present the need for elder care planning

Alzheimer's disease and other forms of dementia affect a significant number of people. If you have a loved one who recently received this type of diagnosis, you may understandably wonder what the condition will mean for his or her future as well as the future of your family. As much as you may want to provide the care your loved one needs, it is not always possible to do so on your own.

Many conditions like Alzheimer's, which lead to mental decline, can result in a person needing long-term, professional care. Though the doctors may have caught the disease early, planning now may help prevent complications in the future.

How insurance impacts business acquisitions

Some business owners in Connecticut may find that it's beneficial to acquire other companies. However, it is important to complete due diligence prior to making an acquisition official. One step in the due diligence process is to look for any liabilities that the target may have. Once an acquisition becomes the official, the acquiring company generally becomes responsible for some or all of those liabilities.

In the event that the target doesn't have insurance or other protection against liabilities, that company could offer its own guarantee. After an acquisition or merger is complete, it might be a good idea to buy new insurance policies. Existing policies may also need to be modified to ensure that a business is properly protected after the transaction becomes final.

The importance of registering a trademark

In order to thrive and build good relationships with their customers, businesses in Connecticut have to build a strong brand that evokes the right emotions in their customers' minds. One way of achieving this is through the use of a unique and recognizable company name and logo. However, a business may fall into trouble, be it from a legal or marketing perspective, if these designs or names are already in use by other businesses, which is why it is always advisable for a company to protect its trademark.

A company using a logo or design that has already been trademarked by another business can spell disaster, beginning with the loss of customers as a result of the ensuing confusion that comes with changing trademarks. Additionally, the company will have to bear the costs of reprinting all its promotional and official documents that carry the design that needs to be changed. Moreover, the company will be legally liable as the original owner of the trademark could sue them for infringement, forcing them to forego all the profits they made with the unregistered mark as well as pay damages.

How digital assets have affected estate planning

The law has always had to evolve to keep up with the times, and estate planning is no exception to that. In fact, estate planning has had to adapt to the recent rise of digital assets, particularly cryptocurrencies, and to change from a relatively straightforward process to one that that is trying to cope with the intricacies that come with a new type of assets.

Estate planners now have to be aware of how this new asset has affected their business. For one thing, they can take the traditional route of estate planning when handling digital assets. Additionally, according to the Revised Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act, RUFADAA for short, estate planners have the right to access their client's digital assets while not compromising their client's privacy. All that being said, some estate planners might find it preferable to sell the cryptocurrency as soon as they can seeing as the price of cryptocurrency tends to be very volatile.

Overcoming potential problems in an estate plan

There could be hidden problems in the estate plans created by Connecticut residents. In most cases, the most common hidden problem is the person who creates the plan. This is because that person may not name the appropriate people to fill roles related to executing the plan.

Some of the common roles that need to be filled include executor, trustee and agent. The agent is a person who acts on someone else's behalf if he or she becomes incapacitated. Trustees oversee any trusts that have been created while the executor handles the will during probate. Ideally, one person will be tasked with filling one role. Having multiple individuals filling the same role can be inefficient and cause confusion.

Do you need help coping with a chronic condition?

Many residents throughout Connecticut live with health issues. Some of their conditions may be considered relatively minor or even temporary. However, you may live with a chronic condition that substantially affects your life. Your condition likely has no cure, and your prognosis may indicate that your condition will remain a permanent part of your life.

Depending on the exact chronic condition you have, your life may face different effects than someone with a different chronic medical condition. Because of the individual nature of these conditions, it is important that you find ways to cope with the impacts of your unique situation.

Protecting trademarks around the world

Businesses in Connecticut with great intellectual property may be wondering how they can most effectively protect themselves outside the borders of the United States. Many know the benefits of having a federal trademark within the country to protect their brand and image. In addition, trademark holders need to constantly be on guard against infringement in order to preserve their exclusive rights. When companies do not register their trademarks, they could face serious risks to their intellectual property. However, all of these provisions only apply within the borders of the United States.

Companies may wish to expand their trademark protection if they are considering doing business overseas. Even if no expansion is in mind, the rise of the online marketplace has meant that many companies are now international by default. In the past, only the largest businesses filed international trademarks. However, given the global reach of online sites, many companies with a focus on digital commerce may want to file for an international trademark. In some countries with fewer protections, counterfeiters and others may focus on copying trademarked brands. Having a global plan for trademarks can help businesses to protect themselves against infringers around the world.

Art collections and estate planning

It's not uncommon for Connecticut art collectors to fail to make adequate estate plan provisions for their collections. In some cases, neglect may simply happen because of procrastination. This can lead to significant taxes on the collection at the owner's death, or it can result in family conflict. If a collection is not divided fairly among heirs, the family might end up in litigation.

However, there are several steps collectors can take to avoid this. One approach that can simplify the process is having the art owned by corporate entities. This can prevent the need to retitle each piece of artwork. Art may be placed in a trust and passed to individuals or passed to a charity after the owner's death.

Estate planning after remarriage

After the divorce or death of a spouse, it isn't unusual for people in Connecticut to remarry. While finding love again is often a source of great joy, it also brings some legal concerns. If one or both spouses have children from a previous relationship, estate planning is critical. When parents of adult or minor children get married again, they should immediately update their wills and estate planning documents, including those that govern insurance policies, retirement accounts and investment plans. In addition, end-of-life planning documents such as living wills, powers of attorney and advanced directives should also be updated to reflect the estate planner's wishes.

Having an updated will is always a good idea, but particularly so for people who have children from a previous marriage or relationship. Without a will, it's up to the courts to determine how assets should be divided. Even if the stepparent and children have a good relationship, bitterness and conflict could result from the court's decision.

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