An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time. Their worth includes their property, jewelry, possessions and land. This also includes their interest in any land. Estate planning is creating a legal guide that dictates who should receive your money, assets, land and things when you die. Good estate planning is much more than that. It is not only for wealthy people or the elderly. It should be done by EVERYONE.
Estate planning goes hand in hand with investment planning. You should not have one without the other. When you invest money and build up your net worth you must protect its future. It will insure your cash and assets will go to the people you want, when you want them to have it. You can minimize taxes and avoid conflict for your family by avoiding probate court. “If you don’t have a plan, your state has one for you, but you may not like it!”
Jay and his team will help you create your plan, including:
– Naming an executor who will make decisions for your minor child(ren)
– Name a legal guardian for your children (the person you appoint to make financial decisions for your child does not have to be the same person appointed to care for them)
– Setting terms for how the children should be cared for, when they will receive inheritance and what their living expense should be
– Lining up life insurance and how much you need…life insurance can play a large role in the future of your family
– Leaving money to charities and non-profit organizations
– Naming your Executor of Estate and Power of Attorney
– Instructions for passing on your values, such as religion, education and hard work
– Listing and accounting for all of your valuable assets
What happens if you neglect estate planning?
If you are disabled and don’t have an estate plan with an executor or power of attorney, the court will appoint one for you. This will be based on your physical or mental incapacity. The court, not your family, will control how your assets are used to care for you. This will be through a conservatorship or guardianship. It can become expensive and time consuming. It is open to the public and it can be difficult to end even if you recover.
If you pass away without having an estate plan, your assets will be distributed according to the probate laws in your state. In many states, if you are married and have children, your spouse and children will each receive a share. That means your spouse could receive only a fraction of your estate. They may not have enough to live on. If you have minor children, the court will control their inheritance. If both parents die, the court will appoint a guardian without knowing whom you would have chosen.
What is the difference between an Estate plan and a will or living trust?
A will provides your instructions, but it does not avoid probate. Any assets titled in your name or directed by your will must go through your state’s probate process. This is before they can be distributed to your heirs. This can cost a lot, cause stress for your family, and take anywhere from nine months to two years or more!
Death is not an easy topic to consider or discuss, but nothing is gained by sticking your head in the sand. It is not comfortable to think about these things. However, it is worse to burden your loved ones at your death. Death can cause odd emotions in families. The way to avoid that is to have a very clear plan for what YOU want to happen. Discussing your estate plans with your heirs may prevent disputes.
Remember that estate planning needs to be revised regularly. Any time there is a change to your financial picture. This includes additions to the family, new assets, less assets, new laws or new benefits. Jay and his team of advisers at Numerico are experts in estate planning, elder care and investment planning. They have the know-how and the caring spirit to walk you through every step of this process.
Elder Care – What to Consider
We love our parents, grandparents and elder relatives. They have often raised you and you look up to them as counselors and mentors. As your cherished family member gets older, they may need some help with their day-to-day tasks. This includes many financial tasks and decisions. How do we know when they need help? How do we help them while preserving their dignity? Although you could help in many ways, how do you go about it?
Signs that your family member needs help:
-Are they telling you that they are eating, but you’re seeing food go bad?
-Are they falling or injured
-Are they covering up bruises they don’t want you to see?
– Are they wearing the same clothes when you go to visit?
– Can they bathe themselves, do their hair and wash clothes?
-When you look around the house or yard, is it as neat and clean as it used to be?
-Are they taking medications correctly and at the right time?
If you answer yes to most of these questions then you may need to think about becoming an Agent Power of Attorney. This is also referred to as an attorney-in-fact. This is someone who has the authority to handle their finances and property, as well as sign their name in your place while they are alive. Their power ends at their death.
An Executor under a will has the authority to handle your property and finances after you have passed away. The duties of an executor and attorney-in-fact are very similar, but one has the authority to act while you are alive and the other has the authority after you have passed away.
Things you NEED to know and do to be Power of Attorney
– Organize and review personal, financial and legal documents
– How they pay their bills and what the bills are for
– Prepare an inventory of personal assets and investments and make sure you understand it
– Address questions about lifestyle, Social Security, pensions, insurance, investment
– Make a list of passwords and accounts
– Learn about any estate planning… if they have not appointed an Executor, they should do so
Things you NEED to know and do to be the Executor of an Estate
– Keep detailed notes in a spread sheet to keep things straight
– Maintain some type of filing system for printed documents
– Organize digital information and save emails
It is nice to keep those mentioned in the will updated on major issues. Sometimes it may be good to update them on the finances. This is a personal choice depending on the wishes of your loved one and the details of the will. Communication does usually help to keep the peace. Death can cause emotional behavior and knowing information helps people through the difficult time.
Be alert for red flags. Ask for permission to examine the checkbook, bank statements, credit card statements and canceled checks. Look for off or double payments and failure to keep track of deposits. Large purchases or donations and subscriptions should be noted.
Most of our elders have given generously to their children and family, never thinking about the return. Parenting especially, is a selfless act that can never be properly described. Our elders deserve to age gracefully with respect, dignity and care. Let Jay and his team help you with that!