How to make sure your Estate Planning Documents are in order
Engage the “2 Hugs Principle”
By David Durham MSFS CAP, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.durhamloyal.com
You have worked hard and accumulated a sizable estate that you now wish to leave to your loved ones or, perhaps, even to your favorite charity. NOW is the best time to make sure your plans are formally written in LEGAL FORM and CURRENT.
– LEGAL FORM meaning Wills, Living Wills, Powers of Attorney, Buy-Sell Agreements for business owners, and Trusts as needed;
– CURRENT meaning in accordance with the current applicable laws for each jurisdiction where your property is held, whether domestically here in the USA or abroad.
KEY POINTS TO REMEMBER
- A WILL should reflect your heart’s desire for today, tomorrow and forever as to whom,where and when your assets will be distributed upon your death with the ability to change your mind if you so choose. In order to avoid challenges and delays when the Will is activated spouses should be in agreement with each other’s wishes especially in the case of blended marriages.
- Leaving a LEGACY is just as important as leaving an estate because it involves much more than property – it comprises your values, ethics, sentimental experiences and heirlooms that you wish transferred in kind to future generations. It also stipulates a hierarchy or leadership pecking order for family and, perhaps separately, for family business roles. The # 1 key to assuring that your legacy is passed to future generations is through periodic , one on one communication with all heirs while you are still alive and able minded. These visits foster a proper understanding of your wishes and invite questions and answers amongst family members so that disagreements can be ironed out now internally which also avoids the emotional and financial damage from family divisions leading to legal battles and even business losses.
- TRUSTS may be needed for any number of reasons such as to minimize or avoid taxes, to maximize the tax savings derived from charitable giving, to bypass a generation for stewardship purposes or again for tax savings, for creditor proofing/ asset protection, ensuring privacy or even to meet the needs of a disabled child in the safest and most cost-efficient manner.
- STEWARDSHIP is a big word of responsibility that is shouldered by the family head. It makes sure that the entire estate and legacy accumulated by blood, sweat and tears is passed without any problems or delays.
MAJOR PITFALLS TO AVOID
- PROCRASTINATION- We know so well that to do nothing is to do something. The “mañana” attitude says “This can wait until tomorrow – a better day” when in actual fact the best time to tackle this planning is NOW while you know you have life, a sound mind and time on your side. In my 40 years of experience I have seen PROCRASTINATION to be a # 1 killer to seeing estates pass freely and quickly to intended heirs.
- PROBATE PREDATORS- The word PROBATE means to prove a will which typically only happens in courts with lawyers , judges and even juries at times. PROBATE is very very expensive and can take years. Take note that in Florida the laws are written such that lawyer and court fees can easily eat up as much as ½ of any sized estate and can take 1-2 years even if a small estate is in question. NOTE- AN ESTATE IN ORDER is an estate that avoids PROBATE; and avoids or minimizes the role of attorneys and courts when the WILLS and /or TRUSTS are put into action upon the passing of the estate owner or Trust Grantor.
- PEOPLE PREDATORS- One of the worst predators can be unintended heirs, the press, an eligible creditor or even the undesirable and undeserving IRS, or some outsider who makes an illegitimate claim against the estate.
ASK YOURSELF TWO QUESTIONS(?)
Is my ESTATE and LEGACY current , written and communicated amongst my loved ones and heirs?
Have I assured “2 HUGS”? The FIRST HUG takes place right after you pass away when your loved ones and friends are comforting one another with a hug, a kiss and some encouraging words. The SECOND HUG should take place just a few weeks later when your estate is settled in order and everyone is happy with their position in the family and/or business and their share and form of their inheritance.
BE SURE you can properly answer these 2 questions. Contact me for a no-cost, no obligation, confidential review.
BONUS- My LEGACY booklet and an ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONNAIRE will be provided to qualified visitors at this initial meeting.
Note from the Editor:
David J. Durham is President and Founder of Durham Loyal, Florida’s premier full-service financial advisory firm amongst the retired and soon to retire business owners and highly paid executives. His firm is widely acclaimed by clients, CPAs, and Estate Planning Attorneys in 15 states and five countries for over 35 years. David is a leading financial expert who graduated from the University of Texas with a degree in International Business and from The American College with a Master of Science in Financial Services. He’s a member of the Society of Financial Services Professionals and a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table.