How we can help you
We stand ready to help your family avoid the negative financial and emotional impact of not having an estate plan in place.
Depending on your unique situation, a team of professionals is assembled to assist you. As it relates to Estate Planning and Legal Assistance, we will assign a professional Estate Planner and/or Attorney to be on your team. This resource will provide you with the information and guidance needed so that you and your family can properly plan your estate and prepare for the future.
Without an estate plan in place, your surviving family members will be at the mercy of state and federal laws, which are completely indifferent to their needs and your wishes. A well thought out estate plan can save your family money by avoiding estate taxes. It can also ensure that your minor children are properly taken care of according to your desires.
It is very important to understand and remember that not having an estate plan in place can have a long-lasting negative impact on your loved ones.
Benjamin Franklin penned a letter in 1789 that stated, “Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency; but in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” While taxes are ever-looming in the form of sales, property, and income taxes, death, on the other hand, is a subject that most people would rather avoid. Let’s face it, having to contemplate the death of a spouse or loved one, much less the thought of taking on their financial burdens while in the grieving process, is about as appealing as walking on hot coals.
Another famous figure in U.S. history once said; “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” (Abraham Lincoln) Estate planning is your opportunity to “sharpen your ax” before your family needs it. The grief that accompanies the loss of a loved one is difficult enough to deal with, without having to be embroiled in legal matters that could have been avoided with an estate plan in place.
Franklin was known for his intellect, creativity, inventiveness, and his wisdom. One of his most poignant mantra’s, that he himself followed, was simply; “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”
Per U.S. Census Bureau statistics, more than 800,000 Americans lose their spouses each year, and 700,000 (88%) of them are women. Because women outlive men, they will spend an average of 14 years without a spouse. In the U.S. today, there are approximately 14 million widows and widowers. One-quarter of the population over age 65 are widows.
Planning your estate is an expression of love for those you leave behind. Instead of leaving your spouse at the mercy of those who may not have their best interests in mind, your estate plan can provide them with a form of legal protection that can only be had through estate planning.
There are several things people can do in advance to prepare for the loss of a loved one. Taking proactive steps today can foster a sense of hope for the future while ensuring reduced stress at the passing of your loved one.
The first step in estate planning is to make sure that you and your family members thoroughly understand what each other’s financial assets are and where they are held. Is there a life insurance policy in place? Who is listed as the survivors and beneficiaries? Are there other retirement plans in place? What will be the added costs, upon the individuals passing? What debts will need to be paid, and are there assets that can be liquidated to pay for these debts? Who will act as executor of their estate?
If there are minor children in the family, a plan must be put in place to ensure they are taken care of, and in a manner that you approve of. You will want to name their guardians in the event both parents die before the children turn 18. Without such a plan in place, the courts will step in and decisions will be made that may be contrary to your wishes. Who do you want to raise your children? Now is the time to decide.
Preparation should begin well before the spouse or loved one is diagnosed with a neurological disease, becomes disabled, or passes. The best-case scenario is to protect, educate, and enable the survivors so that they are prepared to make the best decisions possible regarding asset protection or liquidation if needed.
You should establish two durable power of attorney documents to allow either spouse to make health care and financial decisions for one another. You won’t necessarily require an attorney, but the documents should clearly authorize each other to make medical and financial decisions if the need arises.
Remember, estate planning is all about protecting your loved ones, which means in part, giving them protection from estate taxes. Wise estate planning includes creating instruments that will transfer assets to heirs with the objective of paying the smallest possible amount in estate taxes. A well thought out estate plan can reduce, or even eliminate, all federal and state estate taxes and inheritance taxes, which can be significant. Without a plan in place, the amount that your heirs will owe Uncle Sam could be overwhelming.
Finally, another reason to create an estate plan is to avoid confusion and ill will among family members. When a loved one dies, the last thing that should occur in the family are disputes over the earthy possessions of the recently departed. When an estate plan is missing, family members can become overly emotional regarding who gets what. One sibling may think he or she deserves more than another, or one sibling may think that she should be in charge of the finances, even though she’s notorious for racking up debt. Such squabbling can get ugly and can end up in court, with family members pitted against each other. We don’t like to think that something like this could ever happen in our family, but unfortunately, it happens often enough for it to be a good reason to complete an estate plan well in advance and to communicate your wishes to your loved ones while you are still alive.
Organizing your financial affairs in advance can help lessen the emotional turmoil at the passing of your loved one, and can add to your perimeter of hope.
The preparation, planning, and investment of time you sacrifice today will be the single most important decision you make when that day of separation finally arrives. You need not weather this storm alone, we exist to help ensure you receive the support and guidance that will lift you toward a summit of hope. Why not add to your perimeter of hope by calling us today? We are certain you will be glad you did.