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A Primer for Estate Planning

Take steps to establish your legacy

Estate planning is a task that people tend to put off, as any discussion of “the end” tends to be offputting. However, those who leave this world without their financial affairs in good order risk leaving their heirs some significant problems along with their legacies. No matter what your age, here are some things you may want to accomplish this year with regard to estate planning.

Create a Will if you don’t have one

Many people never get around to creating a Will. A solid will drafted with the guidance of an estate planning attorney could prove to be some of the best money you ever spend. A valid will may save your heirs from the expense of probate too.

Complement your Will with related documents

Depending on your estate planning needs, this could include some kind of trust (or multiple trusts), durable financial and medical powers of attorney, a living will and other items.

You should know that a Living Will is not the same thing as a Durable Medical Power of Attorney. A Living Will can make your wishes known when it comes to life-prolonging medical treatments, and it takes the form of a directive. A Durable Medical Power of Attorney authorizes another party to make medical decisions for you (including end-of-life decisions) if you become incapacitated or otherwise unable to make these decisions.  Again, our Elder Law Attorney can help you put these documents in place.

Review your beneficiary designations

Who is the beneficiary of your IRA? How about your 401(k)? How about your annuity or life insurance policy? When it comes to retirement accounts and life insurance, many people don’t know that beneficiary designations may take priority over bequests made in wills and living trusts, depending on state laws.  If you long ago named a child now estranged from you, or an ex-spouse as the beneficiary of your life insurance policy, he or she could receive the death benefit when you die – regardless of what your will states.1

At Tradewell Tax & Financial we have a full-time Elder Law Attorney who can clarify state law regarding beneficiaries.  Time has a way of altering our beneficiary decisions. This is why some estate planners recommend that you review your beneficiaries every two years. In Indiana, you can authorize transfer-on-death designations which is a tactic against avoiding probate:  TOD designations may permit the ownership transfer of securities or other accounts immediately at your death to the person you choose.2

Create asset and debt lists

Does this sound like a lot of work?  It may not be.  You should provide your heirs with an asset and debt “map” they can follow should you pass away, so that they will be aware of your financial details:

 

  • One list should detail your real property and personal property assets. It should list any real estate you own, and its value; it should also list personal property items in your home or small business details that have value.
  • Another list should detail your bank and brokerage accounts, your retirement accounts, and any other forms of investment plus any insurance policies.
  • A third list should detail your debts like your mortgage and any other outstanding consumer loans.

Think about consolidating your stray IRAs and bank accounts

This could make one of your lists a little shorter.  Consolidation means fewer account statements, less paperwork for your heirs and fewer administrative fees.  Your Tradewell Tax & Financial Investment Advisor Representative can help you consolidate your accounts by rolling-over your 401k into a new IRA or an existing Individual Retirement Account.

Let your heirs know the charities that you wish to support

Have you ever seen the phrase, “In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to… ” Well, perhaps you would like to suggest donations to your Church or charity when you pass. Write down the associations you belong to and the organizations you support.

Select a reliable executor

Our in-house Elder Law Attorney can help you choose an administer for your estate when the time comes?  The choice may seem obvious, but consider a few factors. Is there the possibility that your named executor might die before you do?  Also one consideration is how well does he or she comprehend financial matters or the basic principles of estate planning?  Your executor should have copies of your Will, forms of power of attorney, any kind of healthcare proxy or living will, and any trusts you create.  In fact, any of your loved ones referenced in these documents should also receive copies of them.

Talk to our Elder Law Attorney

Do-it-yourself estate planning is not recommended, especially if your estate is complex enough to trigger financial, legal and emotional issues among your heirs upon your passing.

Keep in mind, money isn’t the only reason for an estate plan. You may not be a multimillionaire yet, but if you own a business, have a blended family, have kids with special needs, worry about dementia, or can’t stand the thought of probate delays plus probate fees whittling away at assets you have amassed … well, these are all good reasons to create and maintain an estate planning strategy.

Having a Tradewell Tax & Financial fiduciary on your side can help preserve your estate

Straightforward vehicles like trusts and limited partnerships can help protect assets once you are no longer here.  Discussing the assets you want protected from probate, divorce, lawsuits or bankruptcies that your beneficiaries may experience, could prove to be one of the best conversations you can have.

Let experience be your guide

If you are saving for retirement, but not taking advantage of tax-deferred investing, it could have a dramatic impact on your future. Consider consulting with an experienced representative today on how tax deferral can positively affect the growth of your retirement assets.

About Mike Albertson

The Founder and CEO of Tradewell Tax & Financial, Mike is also a fee-based Investment Advisor Representative and Fiduciary who is required to put his clients’ interests before his own. In 2002 Mike entered into the financial services sector as a way to learn about people and help them.

Since those early days his practice has grown into one of the Fort Wayne region’s best investment management firms.  Applying his unique quarterbacking approach to traditional planning and investment management, Mike supervises a full-time team of attorneys, CPAs EAs, tax advisors, and insurance professionals.

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Article Footnotes

  1. IRS
  2. Investopedia

 

Mike Albertson is an Investment Adviser Representative. Advisory services offered through Secure Asset Management, LLC (SAM) a Registered Investment Adviser.

Tradewell Tax and Financial is not affiliated with Secure Asset Management

Representatives of Tradewell Tax and Financial are authorized in states where they are properly registered. Mike Albertson: FL, IN, KY, OH, SC. Clients who are not residents of these states cannot be serviced.

This website is not intended to provide investment, legal, or tax advice, nor to effect securities transactions or to render personal advice for compensation. Tradewell Tax & Financial is not engaged in the practice of law.

All insurance recommendations will be provided by a state licensed Tradewell Tax & Financial insurance agent.

There are no assurances that you will achieve your investment objectives. All investment strategies have the potential for profit or loss. Changes in investment strategies, economic conditions, contributions, or withdrawals may materially alter the performance of your portfolio. Past performance is no guarantee of future success. We provide no guarantee that any portfolio will match or outperform any benchmark.

Recommendations and advice are based on information provided by the client that is presumed to be accurate. The financial planning process is not stagnant and must be adjusted based upon changes in the client's personal and financial situation, liquidity needs, investment objectives, and risk tolerance. Clients are responsible for notifying us immediately if their personal and financial circumstances or goals change.