Football season is the most exciting sports season (to some, that is). Football is a fall American tradition, and the weekends are a great time to tailgate or just stay at home on the couch, eat snacks, and watch the game. Everyone has a favorite team, and, if you’re a fan, you probably know all the stats about your team, including the chances of winning, names of your favorite players, and, if your team isn’t that good, how they need to improve—in your opinion. Post-game talk show analysts pore over the game after it’s done, figuring out what went wrong and what went right. You need to know the game to play the game, and that doesn’t just apply to football.
Understanding how to plan for your future is of the utmost importance, and, by consulting with an estate planner, you can ensure that you’re totally prepared for anything. While your favorite team might not be able to ensure a win, you can if you plan thoroughly.
In football, the offensive line’s job is to cover the quarterback and make sure nobody sacks him. Much in the same way that the O-Line covers the quarterback, your estate plan will cover you and prevent you and your family from a lot of headaches down the road. Your estate plan will protect your family in particular from probate court, which is a time consuming, expensive process that usually leaves everyone pretty unhappy with the way in which the assets are divided. Judges don’t know your family and what you want, so give your family some cover from probate and create an estate plan with the right tools to avoid it.
Who is estate planning for?
Estate planning is for everyone! Even minors benefit from estate planning through third-party means, as parents often designate guardians for their minor children in the event that something happens to them. College-age kids benefit from estate planning because they are able to designate their parent as power of attorney and lay out any healthcare directives they may have for their medical care. And, of course, older adults benefit from estate planning because it provides a way to make sure your assets are divided the way you want them to be after you pass on. While the documents may differ from person to person, and the benefits may not be the same from person to person, estate planning is still a tool for everyone.
Much like how a successful football team has tons of different plays, you should have a lot of tools in your estate planning toolkit. There are documents for just about anything, including assets, your family, guardianship, your medical decisions, and more. Provide coverage for the various areas of your life and livelihood by securing each in the event of your incapacitation or death.
Make Sure to Keep Your Playbook Updated
Don’t forget to update and review your estate planning materials every three to five years. Families change. There are marriages, new babies, divorces, deaths, and more that may change your estate plan and give you a new person to add in or someone to take out. You could have all the estate planning safeguards in the world, but if you don’t have it updated to reflect your current family situation, you won’t be happy with the results.
A successful estate planning playbook ensures a win for you, and an estate planning consultation is a great way to prepare for the future. To win the game, you have to know the game, and the different tools that estate planning provides will help you secure your future and your family’s future.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month! Bringing attention to this disease is crucial, as it affects millions of women. One in eight women will develop an invasive form of breast cancer at some point in their lives, and a smaller percentage (though still significant) will experience non-invasive breast cancer. This disease affects not just women, but men as well, and the families and friends of those suffering. One of the most important things to do during such a tough time is to keep stress low and focus on your health.
A way to do that is to plan for the future. Psychological research indicates that when you’re stressed or anxious, planning is more difficult. The ability to plan things out is disrupted by the parts of your brain experiencing the stress. The future can seem daunting. However, there is a way to put things in motion now that will greatly ease your mind: estate planning.
Protecting Your Family
In order to protect your family, you will want to keep them out of probate court. Your kids and grandkids will not want to go through the experience of probate court, which is time consuming and stressful. Probate court is the process by which a judge divides up your assets after you pass away, focusing first on repaying your creditors and then giving what’s left to your loved ones. Rarely does probate actually divide things up the exact way you would have wanted. In order to protect your family from this arduous process, estate planning tools such as a living trust (a three-party relationship where you transfer title to a trustee who holds it for your beneficiary) and others are available.
Thinking About Your Kids
If you have kids, you should definitely consider arranging a guardianship plan for them, just in case. Everyone should have this, whether they’re sick or healthy, as it never hurts to be prepared. Guardianship papers designate a guardian for your kids in the event you are unable to care for them. Choose a guardian for your kids who you feel will take care of their physical and emotional needs while providing a structured day-to-day lifestyle. This intensely personal decision is totally up to you, and you should, of course, think it through carefully and talk to your proposed guardian before executing the papers.
Power of Attorney Considerations
A power of attorney is an individual that you trust to make financial or healthcare decisions for you in the event that you cannot make them yourself. This person ensures that your wishes are carried out, and he or she makes sure you’re treated well and not taken advantage of. The power of attorney for finances takes care of your financial decisions while you’re incapacitated, whether it’s deciding what to do with your house, how to pay for medical care, how to pay for your kids’ school, or anything else. The power of attorney for healthcare is also a decision-maker, just with regards to medical decisions.
Healthcare directives allow you to tell the hospital what you want ahead of time. You can lay out your specific wishes for doctors and nurses to follow. That way, you get the medical care you need even when you’re unable to communicate. These directives are something you can make while you’re with it and feeling well, which means that they will reflect major decisions that are made when completely aware.
With estate planning, there are a lot of tools that will help you prepare for the future and whatever it might entail. You don’t have to feel anxious and nervous about where your assets will go if something happens, and this is a good, productive way to ease the stress that you’re carrying so that you can focus on your health.
When planning your estate, you’re probably going to feel a little overwhelmed at some point (and that’s why your estate planner is there—to help you!) Sure, in general terms, you might have considered what is and isn’t in your estate, but when you get down to it, you might realize you have way more stuff than you thought you did. This in turn leads to the question of what you should protect first. What assets are so important that they should be the first things you start with in your estate plan?
Ideally, you want to protect everything, because everything is important in its own way. But you have to start somewhere. Here is a suggested list of what you should start with, in no particular order. Note that some of these aren’t necessarily assets in the traditional sense (i.e. tangible items), but they do deserve a mention.
First and most obvious, you need to think about your home, if you own one. Think about what you want to have done with your house after you pass on. Do you want it sold? Do you want it to be granted to your relatives? Owning a house is a big responsibility, and it can be expensive. If you want to have your home liquidated, that could be the best option if you’re unsure whether your relatives could financially support home ownership.
This can apply to a business you own or just your assets that you have from work (equipment, stocks, etc.). If you have equipment or a business that you want to keep in the family, you should protect that in your estate plan. You can also include other plans for what you might want done with it, such as sale, transfer of ownership, or something else.
Everyone has family heirlooms and items that they don’t want to see leave the family. These items are important to your heritage and help future generations understand your origins. Include these valuables in your estate plan and make sure you grant them to someone you know will keep them safe and pass them along, ensuring that the heirlooms are kept in the family.
You may have stocks and investments that you count among your assets. When you pass away, think about what you want done with them and whether you think it will be more profitable to sell or transfer them. Make sure you grant these intangibles to someone that you know will be able to manage them, particularly if you’re giving away cryptocurrency, which is volatile and, although very popular, hard to handle.
When creating an estate plan, you want to make sure that your own needs are met in the form of a healthcare directive and power of attorney. These documents ensure that your financial and medical needs will be taken care of according to your specifications should something happen to you to prevent you from making those decisions yourself.
If you have minor children, even teenagers, you will want to have some type of plan laid out for guardianship in case something happens to you. Make sure that you select guardians who not only have your overall values, but who will also keep your kids’ day to day life stable and secure. This a big decision, so don’t be afraid to take a lot of time to think about who you would want to raise your kids.
This quick list of things to think about when estate planning will help you get some idea of what, out of your giant pile of stuff, is important and should stand out. Talk to your estate planner if you’re feeling overwhelmed and need help, as they can assist you in picking out what you absolutely shouldn’t forget to cover, whether you’re writing a living trust, gifting property, or writing a will.
When it comes to marriage in America, things aren’t looking so great. According to the American Psychological Association, between 40% and 50% of first marriages end in divorce. And even after you get divorced, you still can’t catch a break, with second and third marriages having even higher rates (67% and 74%, respectively). These gloomy statistics back up a lot of real-world concerns when it comes to divorcing; first and foremost, what happens to your stuff? When you’re considering getting a divorce, you should definitely consult with an estate planning attorney. There are several reasons for this, as there are quite a few documents that will likely be affected by the divorce.
Divorce tends to sever joint ownership, and it also makes things tricky for property ownership, guardianship, and beneficiaries of your estate—and that’s if the divorce goes smoothly. Here are some reasons why you should talk to an estate planning attorney when considering divorce.
You and your spouse may have jointly owned property or assets. After your divorce, that connection is severed. Only one spouse will own the property. Take the home, for example. If you don’t want to co-own the house, the court might decide in favor of you or your spouse when considering where your house goes. The court will look to multiple factors to make this decision, such as each of your financial circumstances, contributions to the home (like additions, renovations, who uses it more), age, health, custody arrangements, and more. A judge can award the ownership of the house as part of a divorce agreement.
Estate planning often concerns your house and what will happen to it after you’re gone. If you’re not going to have title to your home anymore as a result of divorce, it’s in your best interest to meet with an estate planner to reflect that change in your documents.
Who’s Your Power of Attorney?
Is your ex-spouse still your power of attorney? The power of attorney is the person who makes financial and legal decisions for you in the event that you’re too sick or injured to do so yourself. Your divorce might be a friendly split, but it’s doubtful that you’ll still want your ex to be your power of attorney. Worst case scenario, the divorce is nowhere near amicable, and you’ve just put a hostile party in a very powerful position that can have a lot of effects on your life. Changing your power of attorney is as easy as meeting with an estate planner, luckily.
Custody arrangements are hammered out by the court, but custody of your kids can change your estate plan. You may want to start a trust for your kids or a 529 college-savings plan. If you find that arrangements for your children have altered the way in which you’re going to work them into your estate plan, you should meet with an attorney to reflect those changes.
Luckily, changing your estate plan papers is easy to do and very quick. While your divorce might be dragging on and miserable, rest assured that this won’t be a painful process, and you’ll be able to easily make new arrangements and adjust others for your convenience.
Divorce is, unfortunately, very prevalent in today’s society, and that has created a wide range of estate planning issues. Even if your split is amicable, you still want to make sure that you know what your divorce will change and how it will affect your estate plans. Consult with an attorney to make this painful process run smoothly in at least one area.
When it comes to our kids, we know that there’s nothing we wouldn’t do to ensure that they’re safe and happy. Legal mechanisms like estate planning allow you to give your kids the surety that, in the event something happens to you, they will be protected. Within the estate planning toolbox, there are two tools that will protect your kids: the trust and the guardianship papers. Both help you plan for any possible eventuality, and both will give you and your whole family peace of mind.
In addition to a trust, choosing the best guardian for your kids is a must-do for anyone with minor children who is looking into estate planning. This involves careful thought and preparation, and we will give you some advice on choosing the best guardian for your kids. But first, let’s see how we define a trust.
What is a Trust?
When you hear the phrase “Trust Fund Kid,” you might think of negative connotations, like the spoiled rich kids that are classic movie villain tropes. However, trusts aren’t just for people with tons of money. A trust is a three-party relationship that is fiduciary in nature. You, the trustor/donor, give nominal title to a trustee, who then holds title until you tell them to grant it to your beneficiary (in this case, your kids). This trust can hold many different things, including cash, stocks, bonds, or even property. The beneficiary can access the trust when they reach 18 (or 21, depending on your instructions).
By forming a trust for your kid, you ensure that you will be able to financially support them in at least some respect once they reach adulthood. The trust grants financial security, and you don’t need to put millions in there to help your kids.
Guardianship for Your Kids
In addition to the financial security a trust brings, guardianship papers are a must-have for anyone who is estate planning with minor children. Even if your children are 17 and have almost reached adulthood, it can’t hurt to include guardianship, as you never know what can happen. Once you’ve made your selection, talk to your proposed guardian. If they agree, make sure to officialize it in your estate plan.
Here are some considerations when choosing the best guardian for your kids.
Consider Overall Values
We all have an idea of how we want to raise our kids and the values we want to instill in them. It doesn’t matter where these values come from—religion, family tradition, etc.—what matters is that they’re important to you. Draw up a list of general values you want a guardian to have. This will get your list going in the right direction.
Think About Day-to-Day Life
In sum, it’s really about what your kids will be doing each day of their life with their guardian. School, homework, work, planning for college—all these activities matter in the short- and long-term. When you’re considering a guardian, think about how your child’s day will go with them and whether it will be a stable environment for them to come home to each day.
Talk to Your Prospective Guardians
You may have the perfect person in mind, but don’t forget: you need to ask their permission first. Talk to your guardian about your proposed role for them. Make sure they’re on the same page in terms of child-raising.
While no one ever wants to think about negative potential life events, it never hurts to be prepared. In addition to a trust, choosing guardianship for your minor children in the event that something happens is the best way to ensure that, even in the worst case scenario, your kids will be protected and have the best chance possible at a great life.
It’s not uncommon to think of a last will and testament as being something that belongs to an elderly person who is in their last years. But actually, there is no specification saying you have to be old or dying to write a will and, in fact, you should consider writing one once you’ve reached adulthood. Anyone older than eighteen can make a will. (Someone who is younger than eighteen can’t form a will that is considered valid unless they meet certain circumstances, such as marriage and court approval).
When making a will, it isn’t about age, it’s about capacity. So, when asking, “How young do you have to be to consider a will?” the answer is eighteen or over, as long as you’re able to understand and approve what you’re doing.
Regarding someone’s mental state, substantive law has a few requirements for those seeking to make a will. An individual who is eighteen or older needs to have what’s called “testamentary capacity.” Testamentary capacity means that the person is of sound (or disposing) mind, memory, and understanding at the time that he or she makes the will.
Someone has testamentary capacity if they (1) understand what a will is, (2) understand, in at least general terms, the type of property and the amount of property that they are disposing, and (3) have the capacity to consider moral claims when deciding who they want to leave their property to.
Lastly, the will’s maker needs to know the contents of their will and approve of them. If the age and capacity requirement is met, you can make a valid will, whether you’re young and off to college or elderly and nearing the end of your life.
Why Young People Need Wills
At eighteen, you might not have much of an estate. However, “not much of an estate” is still an estate, even if there are just a few things in it. You likely have at least some things in your name, whether it’s your car, laptop, clothing, and other personal effects. If something were to happen to you, however unlikely that might seem, you would want to make sure your parents knew what to do with your things. Plus, making your will when you’re young ensures that you’re at your peak capacity to understand. You don’t want to be old and sick before trying to tackle this process.
What a Will Can Include
A will includes instructions for where you want your assets to go after you pass away. An estate plan in general, however, can include much more than that, such as a healthcare directive and power of attorney, both of which are very important. These documents provide instructions on what to do with your finances and health decisions if you’re too sick to make them yourself. Designating your parent (or whoever) as your power of attorney will ensure that your things are taken care of until you’re back on your feet. When you’re creating your will, consider creating those two documents as well. An estate planner will help you through the process.
It might be tempting to go online to a legal document site and create these yourself, but that almost always leads to things being forgotten or left out or minor technicalities arising that could wind up costing your family a lot in court fees to solve. It’s best to consult with a lawyer to make sure it’s done right the first time.
Everyone young thinks they’re going to live forever, and, in almost all cases, they usually have a long time before they’re going to even need to use their estate plan. However, that doesn’t mean that they should neglect to make a will. Even something simple will offer protection in the worst case scenario, and estate planning in general provides protection in a variety of circumstances.
The rules of tennis can be a little confusing, but you don’t need to understand them in detail in order to have fun watching the U.S. Open Tournament. It’s an exciting time to see the country’s favorite players and ambitious newcomers battle it out on the court. One tennis rule is that “love” equals nothing. Interestingly, the word love as it’s used in tennis comes from the French l’oeuf, which means “egg.” The shape of an egg is the shape of zero, and the concept went from there and became love.
However, in the rest of the world, love doesn’t mean “egg,” and when you love someone, that takes on a lot of meaning. You need to protect the ones you love, both now and in the future, and estate planning can help you do just that. Here’s how:
Trust-Based Estate Plans
In general, estate plans are plans for asset protection and distribution, as well as debt repayment, in the future after you pass away. These plans can also include power of attorney designation and health care surrogate appointment in the event you become incapacitated, but when it comes to your family, the word you really need to know is “trust-based estate plan.”
A trust-based estate plan and a will-based estate plan are two very different things. With a will-based plan, you provide instructions to probate court (the court in charge of managing and enforcing the will) as to how to distribute assets. The downside to this is that your family has to go through the long, tumultuous process of probate court.
A trust-based estate plan, by contrast, keeps you out of probate court. A trust-based estate plan allows your beneficiaries to get your assets directly via a revocable trust. The trust has title of your assets, allowing them to go to your designated relatives when you die without going through a middleman.
Avoiding Probate Court: A Very Good Gift
The probate process can take a while to accomplish, sometimes even more than a year. It’s expensive and time-consuming, and there is a lot of room for bickering and conflict with probate court. Staying away from this process ensures that your family isn’t left waiting to get your assets. They can benefit from them immediately, without going through the negative experience of probate court.
Updating Your Plan
When you choose a trust-based estate plan, you still need to make sure that you update and assess the plan every three to five years. Even if you think nothing’s changed in your family, it doesn’t hurt to take a look. If your family does go through life changes, however, you should make sure your plan reflects that (i.e. a new marriage, new children, divorce, death, etc.). Updating and re-assessing your estate plan ensures that your plan is current and benefits the people you want it to benefit.
When you love people, that love means everything to them. A way to show it is through protection in the courts. While not as flashy as roses and lavish gifts, estate planning is a diligent way to protect family members and give them the support they need in the future through a trust-based estate plan.
August 16th is the kickoff for the “Real Men Wear Pink” campaign, which raises awareness about breast cancer. Male community leaders and figures from around the country wear pink to support survivors of breast cancer and raise funds to continue research into finding a cure for the disease. Men pledge to wear pink all through the month of October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’re happy to announce that Michael Wild will be one of the men featured at the August 16th kickoff! Here’s a little more about Real Men Wear Pink and the cause it supports.
More About This Important Cause
Real Men Wear Pink gets men involved in what has been predominantly, and inaccurately, thought of as a woman’s issue. In reality, families of breast cancer sufferers are affected as well (not to mention that men themselves, though a tiny percentage, can actually get breast cancer too). Participants in Real Men Wear Pink make several commitments to help win the fight against breast cancer. These commitments include wearing pink all during the month of October, using social media to raise awareness about breast cancer and the need to continue to fund research, and raising at least $2,500 to donate to the American Cancer Society, which sponsors Real Men Wear Pink.
Pink has always been thought to be a feminine color, but Real Men Wear Pink has shown that it is not. Pink became the color for breast cancer awareness after participants in the Komen New York City Race for the Cure® received pink ribbons in 1991. Since then, the color has stuck, and Real Men Wear Pink demonstrates support for breast cancer survivors and their families by showing that wearing pink can be “a guy thing” too.
Seeing the Early Signs
There is a lot of information available on the American Cancer Society website (among many others) about breast cancer, but here are some important facts and statistics, curated from the nonprofit BreastCancer.org, to know about this disease:
First, invasive breast cancer will develop in one in eight women (that’s 12.4%) over the course of her lifetime. In 2018, this number will reach 266,120 new cases. The number of new cases of invasive breast cancer has gone up and down over the years, but, since 2000, the overarching trend has been an increase in cases.
Second, this form of cancer kills more women than any other type of cancer, with African American women under 45 being at the highest risk of mortality. Right now, over three million women in America possess at least some family history of breast cancer. Family history, lastly, is a major indicator of breast cancer. If you have a close relative that has the disease, your chances of contracting it are very high when compared with someone with no family history.
Though scary, these statistics and others form an important picture to understanding the seriousness and severity of breast cancer across the country, highlighting why campaigns like Real Men Wear Pink are so important.
How Can Wild Felice & Partners Help You and Your Family?
Estate planning can help when dealing with an illness and planning for the future. Schedule an appointment to form an estate plan that will benefit you and your family.
Breast cancer affects thousands upon thousands of women. The Real Men Wear Pink campaign has managed to help many people, both on a personal level and a societal level, by raising awareness and money to battle breast cancer. There will be a cure one day, and the more attention and funding we can raise for this fight brings us that much closer to helping find a cure. In the meantime, aiding survivors and their families is something we can do right now, today.
When it comes to estate planning, you want to make sure that you do not have a hole in one. Estate plans cover a wide range of topics, and asset protection is one of the most important. It’s vital that you go over and check your estate plan for things you may have missed or things you need to add. Estate plans should be assessed every three to five years. You can assess them before that, of course, if there are major changes in your life.
Here are some reasons and factors that make reassessment of your estate plan a valuable tool. If these have occurred in your life, you should definitely update your estate plan. But, even if they have not, you should still do a routine assessment every three to five years.
Deaths in the Family
Unfortunately, it happens. If there is a death in the family, you will need to check and see whether that affects your estate plan. If the person who has passed on is, for instance, someone you intended to leave guardianship to or grant some other important position, you want to get that redone immediately so that there are no holes in the estate plan.
You may feel a temptation to put off making the assessment appointment, but, if something bad happens and you haven’t updated your plan, your family can really find themselves in a tough spot.
New marriages mean new relatives! If you want to include your in-laws in your estate plan, make sure that you update the plan to reflect the new people coming into the family. Or perhaps a marriage has, sadly, ended, and you want to take someone out of your plans. These are grounds for assessment.
On a related note, childcare issues are considerations for additions. If you yourself are getting married and planning on having children (or perhaps you’re combining families), you should have guardianship plans in place in the event that something happens to you or your spouse while the children are still minors.
There is a very valuable 529 plan offered by the IRS that allows you to put aside money to pay for a student’s college tuition. The money will be subject to certain tax breaks and exemptions. Generally, these plans are able to be used interstate, for public or private school (but your estate planner will, of course, check to make sure that your state’s law covers this). If you have kids in your family who are set on college, the 529 college savings program can be an important addition to your estate plan.
Changes in the Law
Estate law is complex, and it does change. For example, there are recent alterations to the law in the form of the gift tax and the estate tax, where the exemption amount has increased. Now, $22.4 million in income can be excluded by a couple (with over $11 million each available for exclusion by a single person). Tax-exempt gifts at or over this amount should be given now, in case the law sunsets. This is an example of a change in the law that can alter the way your estate plan is formulated.
Make sure there isn’t a hole in one of your asset protection plans by updating and checking them at regular intervals. This way, no one will get left out of your estate plan and things will be smooth sailing—i.e. there will be no need for probate court. Schedule an appointment today if you find that you’re in need of making any changes.
Summer means extra time to check up on things you may have pushed to the side during the year. For business owners, this summer period is especially important, as it gives the time to review your asset protection or update partnership agreements.
Estate planning is particularly vital for business owners, as their business is part of the legacy that they’ll continue to leave behind after their passing. Here are some ways that business owners can update their estate plans this summer.
Review Asset Protection
An example of such protection is a succession plan. This is important for any business form, whether a partnership, sole proprietorship, or family-owned business. If you don’t formulate a plan for when you pass on, your business will be without direction, and that can seriously harm your company, if not sink it entirely.
For sole proprietors whose business and personal assets are not separated, you especially need a solid plan of action. An example would be using your personal assets to cover business debts and settle them after you die. You can also pick your successor or, if you plan to sell when you die, find ways to make the sale easy and painless for your heirs.
Family-run businesses might do things differently, choosing to pick heirs based on their level of contribution to the company. You might want those who are most involved to take over the business and buy out the less-involved stockholders. Losing a family member is difficult enough; you want to make sure that the direction you’re giving your family makes this experience less painful.
Update Partnership Agreements
Updating partnership agreements is another area in which business owners (partnerships) can benefit from thorough estate planning. An example of a common tool that partnership agreements use in the event of a death of one of the partners is a buy-sell agreement.
In a buy-sell agreement, the partners establish a plan for the business in the event of the death/incapacitation of one of the owners. In this document, you can tell your partners whether or not you want them to buy out the share you own, block certain people from becoming involved in the business, or sell your share. This requires a lot of communication, but it is worth it to ensure the health of your business.
The “death tax” is just as ominous as it sounds. It is a tax on the value of your business that is due in less than a year of your passing. To prevent your death from turning your business into a must-sell, there are two different types of tax breaks, found in sections 303 and 6166 of the IRS code, which have to do with stock value and deferral. You can use estate planning to take advantage of these sections and save your business’s value after you die.
Business owners, whether they’re proprietors of small, mid-size, or large businesses, all need to stay up on their estate plans, as this diligence will ensure the future growth of their businesses even after they have passed on. Use the extra hours this summer to review your plan and make updates if needed.