Category: Guardianship

Complete a Complete Estate Plan

When it comes to planning, the focus is typically on making you better prepared for the future. That means limiting taxes, creating wiser investment strategies, knowing when it’s best to claim Social Security and developing sustainable retirement income plans. All of these help you on the path to your financial future and your long-term goals. But The Brainerd (MN) Dispatch reports in “3 common estate planning questions, answered,” that there is, however, one exception. That’s estate planning. While much of financial planning primarily benefits you, your estate planning primarily benefits your family and loved ones. 11-14-16

The basic component of your estate plan is your will but there may be other parts you need. Depending on your estate, you may want to consider a trust, in addition to healthcare directives, powers of attorneys and guardian designations. You should also remember that your will isn't necessarily the only instruction when it comes to distributing your assets. The beneficiary designations on your retirement and brokerage accounts, and the life insurance policies you own will take precedence over what you say in your will. Review beneficiary designations regularly to be sure the money in your accounts or the death benefit on a life insurance policy goes to the right person.

A trust can be complicated, so talk with an estate planning attorney to see if it makes sense and whether you'll actually benefit from using a trust. If most of your assets are covered by beneficiary designations or owned in joint tenancy, those assets are already exempt from probate, so they won’t necessarily benefit from a trust strategy.

The executor or the personal representative is the person who will be responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will, settling your debts and paying taxes on your estate. As far as selecting an executor, it should be someone with the capacity to carry out the needed tasks of the position. It also needs to be someone who is willing to serve and is familiar with your situation such as a family member or a close family friend.

If you don't spend every last dollar you have to your name on the day you die, you'll need to have an estate plan. Speak with an experienced estate planning attorney to develop one.

Reference: The Brainerd (MN) Dispatch (Sept. 23, 2016) “3 common estate planning questions, answered”

Want Estate Planning? No, You Need It!

Estate planning is a need, but too often it gets moved down to the list for tomorrow.

There are many reasons people put off estate planning, like discussing death and dying. The (Memphis TN) Daily News recently published an article, entitled “Estate Planning – It’s a Need,” that explained how one person might be a great choice for guardian, trustee, power of attorney or executor. However, what if when the time comes they’ve moved or don’t want the responsibility. What does your family do then? 11-09-16

What if a person named in the will needs to be removed later? What if estate laws change or your circumstances change and there’s a better option?

There will always be changes in our lives. We may live to see our children grow to be adults when they no longer need a guardian. Then again, about that time our parents will age and may need a guardian. We switch jobs, get promoted or get laid off. Investments go up and down. Laws will change, and new legislation will be enacted. These are all important factors on the list of what needs to be addressed in estate planning.

Estate planning is important and it requires significant time and effort. Without a comprehensive estate plan much or all of what you’ve achieved in your life could be lost or given to unintended beneficiaries.

A good way to plan is to draft your will like you were going to die today. Once you have that done, create a review system to ensure your will remains relevant and up-to-date. Talk with a qualified estate planning attorney and let him or her guide you through the process.

Effective estate planning will typically reduce your taxes and those of your estate. In addition, it can save time and expense when settling an estate.

Develop a good working relationship with an experienced estate planning attorney.

Instead of the surviving spouse or children searching for hours through papers and trying to determine what to do next, you should consult with an attorney who will have the documents in hand to help guide the process with minimal impact on the grieving family.

Reference: The (Memphis TN) Daily News (Sept. 23, 2016) “Estate Planning – It’s a Need”

Come On, Do I Really Need a Will?

The answer to that question has always been an unequivocal “yes”—especially when there’s a spouse, children or stepchildren. However, there are some financial advisers that now say many Americans might not need a will. Forbes’ article, “Do You Really Need A Will?” says that a simpler life may mean you will need a less complex estate plan. However, few people’s lives are that simple. 10-19-2016

If you have minor children, you need a will to designate guardians for them. Also, a will or a trust will let you name someone to watch over assets for a disabled or elderly family member or a relative who may not be good with handling money.

Whether you have prized possessions or you want to bequeath some of your estate to the local animal rescue, a will is essential.

The state in which you live can make a big difference. In community property states, your surviving spouse will only inherit all your community property if all your children are also the children of that spouse. Otherwise, your one-half interest in your community estate will pass to your children. If there is any kind of animosity or resentment, they could make your spouse sell the house and send him or her packing because the kids own half the house.

Without a will, a pet can wind up in a shelter after you die if no one takes responsibility for it. A will can name a responsible person and make for a smoother transition for the animal.

A will can also help elderly parents avoid losing government benefits if you predecease them. If they are beneficiaries of your life insurance policy, a large payout may halt their government benefits unless you write a specific provision in your will.

Reference: Forbes (August 31, 2016) “Do You Really Need A Will?”