Estate Planning

The Ideas for Your Article in this section focus on estate planning. If you would like to use one of these articles in your news and announcements section, simply let us know the article number (in parentheses after the title). Don’t use one of our newsletters? Find out more here.

Life Goes On (#0119-1532)

In order to ensure you remain financially on track, I have been asking clients the following: What are your main financial concerns, and how can I better address these concerns?

Many clients express fears about a future filled with hurricanes, terrorism, war, and market downturns. With surprising frequency, the conversation moves to a more practical issue lurking in many of your minds — providing family with long-term financial security without fostering dependency and irresponsibility. The main worry seems to be that heirs sometimes have limited experience with investing and financial issues. Everyone has heard stories of inheritances recklessly spent, leaving heirs with no income. Many clients feel anxious about this but don’t know what to do.

It is uncomfortable talking about death in our society; individuals seldom communicate openly about their money with those who will be most affected financially when they die. Estate attorneys may be brought in to minimize estate taxes, but they rarely know the family well enough to ask the right questions. When there are sensitive issues, this lack of communication can mean the most important issues are unaddressed.

This is a reminder to follow through on reviewing and revising your will and estate plan. After years of helping clients with their investments, I am often in a position to know your particular situations. I feel it is important, if called upon, to participate in the discussion by sharing my knowledge in investment planning, which should drive many key estate-planning decisions. In most cases, the peace of mind it affords clients offsets all the discomfort of dealing in advance with the unknown.

Plan for the Unthinkable (#0718-1500)

We have all heard the saying that the two things that are unavoidable are death and taxes.  No one likes to consider death or the loss of a spouse.  However, since we know these events are inevitable, it makes sense to begin planning for the unthinkable.  Following are a few files you can establish and maintain to help ensure your loved ones will have as few problems to deal with as possible:

  • Files for financial and business information.  Forms to keep in these files include copies of Social Security cards, marriage certificate, children’s birth certificates, wills and trusts with powers of attorney, and living will.  Note that all of the above documents should be copies.  Original documents should be kept in a safe deposit box.  Be sure to have a trusted friend or family member as an additional signor on your safe deposit box so they are able to access the contents if necessary.
  • Files for investment and bank account information, including account numbers and names of contacts who can help with decision making.  Many accounts may need to be altered or retitled.  Life insurance information should also be kept here as well as beneficiary and payout information.  List any monthly payments you may receive from these accounts.  Don’t forget Social Security payments, IRA required minimum distributions, and pension payments.
  • Files for all debts, including mortgages, credit cards, auto loans, cell phone contracts, etc.
    Make sure your loved ones are aware of where to locate these files.  By gathering and maintaining this information now, you will make a difficult time a little easier.  Those who are left handling your personal business will be grateful.

The Estate Plan (#1015-1325)

The estate planning process is important to your overall financial well-being.  Because of this, I offer a personal estate review where I can provide advice regarding the transfer of assets during your lifetime and after death.  The process involves a review of your estate planning concerns and desires as well as a presentation on the following topics:

  • Minimizing estate taxes and associated costs
  • Determining the most favorable disposition and management of assets
  • Ensuring sufficient liquidity to satisfy estate obligations

Please call if you would like to discuss your estate concerns and to find out how I can help you solve them.