Tag Archives: attorney

Estate Planning

August 5, 2014 by

Remarried clients with children present some of the most interesting and sometimes challenging estate planning situations. Generally, there are three common scenarios: one or both have young children from a prior marriage and more are possible; one or both have teenage children and more children are unlikely; and, one or both have adult children and possibly grandchildren.

The first question I must always address with prospective clients is: “Can I represent both of you or do you need to have separate attorneys?” If there are competing distribution interests, I cannot represent both.  This can also happen if there is a big disparity in ages and/or wealth.

Assuming that joint representation is possible and agreed to, we discuss and address what will happen without planning, what does the couple want to achieve, and how can that best be accomplished?  We start with what happens if there are no wills.  If a spouse dies leaving children of a prior marriage, the decedent’s estate will be split 50/50 between the surviving spouse and the children of the earlier marriage.  This may produce particularly bad results of co-ownership between the decedent’s children and their step-parent. We also talk about the right of a surviving spouse to elect to receive up to 50% of the couple’s estate, even if there is a will that would leave less to the survivor.  This may lead to discussions about a will contract, the use of a Qualified Terminable Interest Trust (QTIP) that provides income to the survivor for life with trust assets going to the first spouse’s beneficiaries after the second spouse’s death, and the need to update retirement plan, IRA and life insurance beneficiary designations.

Since one or both of the couple has been through a divorce, we also naturally talk about how estate planning and ownership of assets acquired both before and during the marriage (including increases in value) may affect a future division of marital property if this marriage were to fail.

Having gotten those “pleasantries” out of the way, we can now start getting to the couple’s objectives and planning. A common issue relates to the couple’s home.  Let’s look at my experience with Susan (age 58) and Bob (age 62), who were planning what would be second marriages for both. Susan had two adult children and Bob had one.  They were going to buy a home after the wedding, and both were going to contribute equally to the $100,000 down payment on a $200,000, 15-year first mortgage. They said they planned to own it as joint tenants.

But their proposed ownership of the house presented some problems. Both wanted the survivor of them to be able to live in the house for the rest of their life, and they wanted ownership interests to go to their children. Joint tenancy would be okay if there were a future divorce but, at death, it presented problems because the survivor would own 100% of the house. We talked about being tenants in common with both owning 50% of the property. That way, both Susan and Bob could give their half to their children by will, subject to a life estate in the survivor. That might be okay if they were paying cash for the house but, if one of them died before the mortgage was paid off, the survivor would have paid more than the other for the house, causing a windfall for the first decedent’s child(ren).

Susan and Bob decided on using a joint revocable trust to own the house with the ultimate beneficial interests being divided based on their respective contributions to the purchase.

The trust dealt with the survivor’s occupancy free of rent and responsibility for mortgage payments, taxes, repairs, and utilities, as well as possible sale and replacement property. This approach allowed Susan and Bob to retain maximum flexibility while both were alive, provide for the surviving spouse, and equitably distribute their respective interests in their new house to their children based on their contributions to the purchase price.

I am happy to report that Susan and Bob are happily married to this day.

Guest contributor Margaret A. Badura is an elder law and estate planning attorney.

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Omaha! Omaha!

June 10, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Picture a drop of water balancing on a leaf, or a Zen master poised on one foot—mid-air—for what seems an eternity. NFL referee and Omaha attorney Clete Blakeman maintains his own special equilibrium by excelling in two distinctly different careers.

“It really is a nice balance,” especially now in the off-season, he says. “I’m able to focus back on law for a little bit. And I do enjoy it.”

Blakeman, an attorney and NFL referee, was there the day Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning’s pre-snap count of “Omaha! Omaha!” became a viral media sensation.

“It got so much attention because the microphones on the field picked up so much,” he says. “Omaha!” had been part of Manning’s and other quarterback’s cadence over recent seasons, so Blakeman didn’t give the familiar audible too much thought. But at halftime, Blakeman learned that, thanks to microphone placements, the name of his hometown was being heard repeatedly by tens of millions of viewers.

“In the second half,” he says, “I did mention to Peyton that I was from Omaha, and he chuckled about it.”

From childhood Blakeman was immersed in the world of sports and officiating. He would tag along with his referee father for both football and basketball seasons in his hometown of Norfolk.

“It’s in my blood,” he adds.

Blakeman has served six seasons in zebra stripes. He manages a whirlwind travel schedule with an eye to minimizing time away from his wife, Katie, and their two children, daughter Maeve, 3, and son Hudson, 1. Blakeman makes his turf time essentially a 36-hour gig. He flies out the day before and, with the exception of Sunday night games, returns home the next night.

Blakeman has a front-row seat to the violence of the NFL and closely follows the league’s safety initiatives. “I have a sense that the sport is going to continue to change probably in the next 10, 15, 20 years.” The idea that his son may follow in his father’s football footsteps makes Blakeman doubly concerned.

“I’m very aware of health and player safety.”

Managing his jet-setting, multiple-career balancing act is more important now that his family is growing. “It’s great to be able to travel and experience other places,” he says.

And then, it’s even greater to get back home to “Omaha! Omaha!”

“To call this home, especially now with two little ones, it’s pretty special,” Blakeman says.

Corianna Kubasta

June 20, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Second-year Creighton University Law student Corianna Kubasta may not be a bonafide attorney just yet, but she’s already got a cause she’s fighting for—the Wounded Warrior Project and its mission to honor and empower those who’ve served and sacrificed for our country.

After graduating from University of North Dakota, Kubasta decided on Creighton Law because of the school’s focus on “the student as a whole.” She says the sense of community offered by the university and Omaha made her decision to move here an easy one.

According to Kubasta, student law groups at Creighton have a longstanding tradition of charity and service. As a member of CU’s newly founded Military Law Society, Kubasta is involved with an innovative group of students that seeks to support military affiliates within the Creighton and Greater Omaha communities.

In beginning their effort, the Law Society has become a registered sponsor of the Wounded Warrior Project. Founded in 2002, the nonprofit WWP states its purpose as three-fold: to raise awareness and enlist the public’s aid for the needs of injured service members; to help injured service members aid and assist each other; and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet the needs of injured service members. As a proud supporter of the WWP, the student group is focused on raising awareness and funds for the organization.

“We really want to reach out to vets in the Omaha community. It’s nice to know you have someone to go to [for help].”

Most students involved with CU’s Military Law Society have been active military members themselves (although there are family and friends of military who join, too). Kubasta is herself a veteran, having served a yearlong tour in Iraq with an Army National Guard unit from North Dakota in 2008. While on active duty, she trained with the military police, as well as worked in prisons.

Kubasta said her tour overseas further strengthened and guided her passion for justice. “It was interesting to see how [Iraqis] dealt with criminals without a structured system. There is just not as much due process over there.” Witnessing many injustices during her tour simply reinforced her desire to go into law, she says.

In April, the Military Law Society hosted their first big WWP fundraiser, a poker tournament. The event “couldn’t have been made possible without Connor McCarthy’s time and energy,” says Kubasta, praising her fellow CU student and MLS’s founder. Although the tournament was a monetary success, Kubasta says the bigger achievement was in helping attendees develop a deeper appreciation for what soldiers have sacrificed.

The Military Law Society has already agreed to host another tournament next year and will be inviting both old and new friends. The group is looking at other ways to aid the organization as well. “We really want to reach out to vets in the Omaha community,” Kubasta says. “It’s nice to know you have someone to go to [for help].”

It seems Kubasta and fellow CU students are happy to offer that helping hand, and Omaha will be a better community for it.

To learn more about the Wounded Warrior Project and what you can do to help, vsit
woundedwarriorproject.org.