Improper Estate Planning Reveals the Secret KFC Recipe!

Happy New Year! In the culinary world, a secret recipe is everything. For fast food giant KFC, the recipe for its chicken is so closely guarded that it sits in a 770-pound safe covered in two feet of concrete and monitored by motion sensors and video cameras. Seriously, it sounds like something out of a Mission Impossible movie!

Yet recently, as covered in a New York Times article, the company’s lip-smacking spice blend may have been revealed to the world via the last will and testament of Colonel Sanders’ second wife. It all started this past August when Jay Jones, a reporter for The Chicago Tribune, traveled to Corbin, Kentucky to write a piece about the town where the famous Colonel first made his fried chicken.

Mr. Jones set up a meeting with Colonel Sanders’ nephew, Joe Ledington. At some point during the meeting, Mr. Ledington pulled out an old scrapbook that contained pictures and family memoirs. Allegedly, the scrapbook was the property of Claudia Ledington, Colonel Harland Sanders’ second wife who passed away in 1996. Tucked away in the back of the scrap book was Claudia’s last will and testament. In the last pages of the will was a handwritten recipe for a spice rub. Mr. Ledington claimed that the 11 spices and herbs listed in the last will were in fact the secret recipe locked up tight in a safe weighing nearly 800 pounds.

Yum Foods, the parent company that owns KFC, claims the recipe isn’t accurate. The exact spice blend from Claudia Ledington’s last will and testament is as follows and should be mixed with 2 cups of flower:

2/3 tablespoon salt
1/2 tablespoon thyme
1/2 tablespoon basil
1/3 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon celery salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon dried mustard
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
3 tablespoons white pepper

Now, from an estate planning perspective, a couple of things can be learned. First, you can bequeath amazing recipes to your descendants. However, if you have a recipe that may be responsible for hundreds of franchise restaurants and billions of dollars in revenue, you may want to update your estate plan. In 1996 when Claudia Ledington passed away, KFC was already a successful brand and household name. Instead of leaving the original spice rub on a hand-written note in the back of a scrap book, she may have wanted to rewrite and seal the document in a safe or safety deposit box.

Second, if you do have a secret recipe to leave in your safety deposit box, it’s never a good idea to leave your last will and testament in your safety deposit box. It’s like leaving the key to the deposit box in your deposit box.

Whether you need help leaving Grandma’s famous apple pie recipe to your children or establishing a trust, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced estate planning lawyer. If you have any questions, please call us at (908) 236-6457, or email me at alec@bmcestateplanning.com.

More Help for Modest Estates in New Jersey

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For people of modest means, the estate administration process often adds legal and administrative expenses that serve only to reduce the amount of the estate that passes onto heirs. In addition to these hard costs, a lot of the heirs’ time and energy can be lost at a time when they are likely already grieving the loss of a loved one. It hardly seems worth it to process these modest estates.

Fortunately, the State of New Jersey recognizes the burden that estate administration can place on people of modest means and thus always allowed intestate estates valued at less than $20,000.00 to pass to a surviving spouse or partner without the need for administration. An intestate estate is an estate where there is no Will.

Recently, the New Jersey State Legislature passed two new laws which expand upon this policy. First, the amount that can be transferred to a surviving spouse or partner has been increased to $50,000.00. This adjustment will allow a much larger number of estates to pass without administration and should serve to alleviate unnecessary stress on many New Jersey families.

If the decedent does not have a surviving spouse or partner, the maximum amount that could pass was previously $10,000.00, but that amount has also been increased and is now $20,000.00.

The second law assists some of the State’s least financially secure individuals — nursing home patients. Under this new law, nursing homes are required to work with residents to help them designate a beneficiary who will be entitled to any personal needs allowance funds that amount to $1,000.00 or less. The named beneficiary will usually be able to take these monies without administration.

If you have questions regarding your eligibility, or the eligibility of a loved one, under the provisions of either of these laws, consult with a lawyer as soon as possible. For residents of New York and New Jersey seeking estate planning assistance, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457.

What is Testamentary Capacity?

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The creator and signer of a Will is known as a testator. Testamentary capacity, therefore, is the ability of the testator to knowingly sign his or her Will. There are numerous ailments that may result in the incapacity of the testator, preventing him or her from validating an unsigned Will. One of the most common diseases that causes this is Alzheimer’s Disease. Many Americans in their 30s, 40s, and even 50s, believe there is no threat of developing this terrible disease or other forms of dementia — they view early symptoms simply as “senility” and “growing old”.

However, as the Alzheimer’s Association points out, 1 in 3 seniors in America will die with Alzheimer’s Disease or some other form of dementia. In 2015, it was estimated that 5.3 million Americans suffered from Alzheimer’s.

As a result, it is imperative that you update your estate plan on a regular basis. Currently, Alzheimer’s Disease is the only cause of death in the top 10 causes that cannot be cured, prevented or even slowed.

But what if you fail to sign your Will and start to show signs of dementia? Is it too late? Are you unable to sign your Will? It depends on whether you have testamentary capacity. Just as there are different types and stages of cancer, there are different types and stages of dementia. To determine if you have the ability to sign your Will, the following criteria must be met:

  • Extent and value of your property — You know what assets and property you own and their current value.
  • Natural beneficiaries — You know which persons are your natural beneficiaries.
  • Disposition you are making — You understand the function of a will and how it is used to dispose of property.
  • How to form an orderly plan — You have an understanding of how these components come together to create an estate plan to distribute your assets and property.

You must understand that if your family members are unhappy with the outcome of your Will, they may seek a Will Contest on the basis that you were not of sound mind when you signed the document. Should your will be found invalid, a previous Will may be used or your Estate may pass through NJ’s intestacy laws.

The best way to ensure your Will is clearly understood and acknowledged as valid is to consult with an experienced attorney. While hashing out a comprehensive Estate Plan may not be at the top of your to-do list, it can save your heirs headaches and heart ache in the event of your death. For more information on Estate Planning in New Jersey, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457.

Estate Planning From Prison

Going to prison may be the last thing on your mind. Yet the question remains, what would you do if you were suddenly incarcerated? Who would take care of your kids? Are your financials in order? Do you have an estate plan in place?

The reason it is vital for you to think about and answer these questions is because prison is a type of “incapacitation” for the sake of estate planning. After all, if you’re in prison, who will pay the mortgage, sign the child support checks, pay for nursing home care for your parents and handle your other responsibilities? Fortunately, by retaining an attorney, you can designate power of attorney to an individual who can then carry out these tasks on your behalf.

In the event that you are arrested, cannot pay your bail, and are convicted of a crime, you should have a power of attorney set up. Now, in a perfect world, you’ve already created your estate plan and you already named someone to be your power of attorney.

Let’s assume the world is less than perfect. So, what is power of attorney and how do designate a person to handle your affairs after you’ve been incarcerated?

Power of attorney is the authority you give to another person or institution (a bank for example) to look after your affairs if you should become disabled or incapacitated. Some of the advantages of a power of attorney include:

  • You choose your agent — Rest assured, you, and not a judge, get to choose who you want to be your power of attorney. Keep in mind that it is important for you to choose someone you trust.
  • Peace of mind — Designating a power of attorney can provide you and your family with peace of mind.
  • Can save you time and money — By having a power of attorney in place, you can save time and money that would be spent on court proceedings.

If you have not named someone to be your power of attorney, but find yourself in prison, your attorney can pass you the POA documents that need to be signed — the Department of Corrections allow a prisoner’s attorney to pass him or her important documents.

Whether you are facing prison time or have been diagnosed with a serious illness, an estate planning lawyer can help you get your affairs in order so that your family is well looked after. For more information on estate planning in NJ and NY, contact Alec Borenstein, Esq., at alec@bmcestateplanning.com, or call 908-236-6457.

My Kids Are So Different – How Do I Plan My Estate?

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Thank you for reading the July edition of BMC’s End of the Month Newsletter. This month my wife is on a two-week (actually 16 day) trip to South Africa, and Daddy (that’s me) is on duty right now. Her absence has me thinking about estate planning as it relates to children.

When your children are young, it makes sense to divide your estate equally among them. However, as your kids get older and reach their 20s and 30s, you may discover that one child is more financially responsible than another. How does this affect your estate plan?

When creating your estate plan and deciding how your property and assets should be divided after you die, consider the following factors:

  • Caregiver — What if one child stuck around to take care of you later in life while your other children moved away? You may want to leave more to him or her since he or she sacrificed part of their life to take care of you.
  • Life situations — One child may be a single lawyer with few expenses while the other may have a large family to support on a modest salary. Should both children receive the same amount?
  • Younger children may need more support — Is there a drastic age disparity between your children? You may have older children who are independent adults and a younger child who is just broaching adulthood.
  • Trust protection – Ask yourself these questions: Are your children in rocky marriages? Are they in high risk professions? Are your children bad at handling money? Should my children receive their shares outright or would it be better to for them to receive their shares in a trust that will help protect them from themselves/divorce/creditors?

At the end of the day, no matter how you structure your plan, one thing is certain: you must inform your children — you do not want them surprised by your estate plan. In my experience, siblings are so distraught over the outcome of a will, they often seek a will contest when it could have been avoided by a conversation during the testator’s lifetime. The last thing you want as a parent is to have your children fighting over your will after you die.

But the first step is to think about the issues involved, and call us with any questions you might have.

If you have any estate planning questions, please feel free to call us at (908) 236-6457, or email me at alec@bmcestateplanning.com.

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