I Have An Estate Plan – But Do I Like It?

For most, estate planning is a topic they do not wish to address let alone discuss. It can be an emotionally and financially challenging issue, therefore, people often procrastinate about creating a plan and the appropriate documents. According to an AARP survey: 60% of Americans lack a will or estate plan https://www.aarp.org/money/investing/info-2017/half-of-adults-do-not-have-wills.html yet its critical to the successful disposition of one’s assets and health care decisions to have their own customized plan in place.

So why don’t more people go through the estate planning process? Here are several of the more popular reasons shared with me over the years:

  1. Prefer not talking about death
  2. It’s bad luck to discuss death
  3. I don’t wish to create discord within our family
  4. Not sure who to leave assets to so better off not dealing with it
  5. Can’t figure out who to name as our fiduciaries such as trustees, guardians, and executors
  6. It’s overwhelmingly complex
  7. Simply don’t need to because I have nothing
  8. And the list goes on and on…

Do any of these resonate with you?

If one were to pass away without a will it is called dying intestate. When one dies #intestate, meaning without a will the state’s statutes govern, and probably once you understand the state’s rules you may wish to opt to create your own documents through a competent professional.

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Here is a fun example of a fake will that was given to me by a friend some time ago. It’s kind of a state’s interpretation of what is to happen if you die without a will. Plug your own name in or if you are married read it with your spouse aloud and see what they have to say.

The Will of Intestacy (not real of course)

Being of sound mind and Memory.

I__________________________, do hereby publish this as my Last Will and Testament:

FIRST, I give my spouse only one-half of each of my possessions, and I give my children the remaining one half.

I appoint my spouse as a guardian of my children, but as a safeguard, I require my spouse to report to the Probate Court regularly and render an accounting of how, why and where they spend the money necessary for the proper care of my children.

As a further Safeguard, I direct my spouse to produce to the Probate Court a Performance Bond to guarantee that my spouse exercises proper judgment in the handling, investing and spending of the children’s money.

As a final safeguard, my children shall have the right to demand and receive a complete accounting from my spouse regarding all of the financial actions with their money as soon as they reach legal age.

When my children reach age 18 they shall have full rights to withdraw and spend their shares of my estate. No one shall have any right to question my children’s actions on how they decide to spend their respective shares.

SECOND, Should my spouse remarry, her second spouse shall be entitled to one-third of everything my spouse possesses. Should my children need some of this share for their support, the second spouse shall not be bound to spend any of their share on my children’s behalf.

The second spouse shall have the sole right to decide who is to get their share, even to the exclusion of my children.

THIRD, Should my spouse predecease me or die while any of my children are minors, I do not wish to exercise my right to nominate the guardian of my children.

Rather than nominating a guardian of my preferences, I direct my relatives and my spouse’s relatives to get together and select a guardian by mutual agreement.

In the event that they fail to agree on a guardian, I direct the Probate Court to make a selection. If the court wishes, it may appoint a stranger acceptable to it.

FOURTH, Under existing tax law, there are certain legitimate avenues open to me to lower death taxes. Since I prefer to have my money used for governmental purposes rather than for the benefit of my spouse and children, I direct that no effort be made to lower taxes.

FIFTH, I appoint my spouse to handle my estate, but as a safeguard, I direct that my spouse give a Performance Bond to guarantee that they do everything exactly as they should.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have set my hand to this Last Will and Testament this ________ day of _______________, 20xx.     Sovereign State of _____________

I hope you are not liking the way any of this sounds.

Stay tuned for more on the topic coming this week and of course if you have any questions please feel free to reach out to schedule a consultation.

Jonathan Gassman CPA, CFP, CAP

9 East 40th Street

New York, NY 10016

T: 212-221-7067

The Retirement Maven

The Gassman Financial Group

DISCLAIMER: Any accounting, business, financial or tax advice contained in this communication, is not intended as a thorough, in-depth analysis of specific issues, nor a substitute for a formal opinion, nor is it sufficient to avoid tax-related penalties. The opinions and analyses are subject to change at any time. If desired, The Gassman Financial Group including Gassman & Gassman CPA PC and G&G Planning Concepts Inc., would be pleased to perform the requisite research and provide you with a detailed written analysis. Such an engagement may be the subject of a separate engagement letter that would define the scope and limits of the desired services. This material is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument.

#estateplanning #financialplanning #powerofattorney #healthcare #healthcareproxy #Financialadvisor #Trustandestate #LWT #wills

 

2019 Medicare Open Enrollment: a shopper’s guide

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It’s that time of year again. If you’re one of the roughly 60 million Americans enrolled in Medicare, get ready for some year-end shopping. Medicare’s annual open enrollment period runs from October 15th until December 7th and presents seniors with a great opportunity to manage their health care costs for the coming year. Any changes or new enrollment will become effective on January 1, 2020. Continue reading

2019 Medicare Mailings: culling for dollars

junk mail

A visit to the mailbox is an unrewarding chore for many of us, and retirees are no exception. Slogging through a mountain of credit card applications, donation requests, assorted fliers, catalogs and magazine offers are enough to make answering a robocall from a political super PAC seem like an attractive diversion. Continue reading

Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft

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Social Security in Four Parts

Image 2Part 4: Effective Claiming Strategies

Social Security benefits serve as a foundation that many Americans will rely heavily on in retirement. Program benefits provide one-third of total income for the elderly population and more than half of the income for a staggering 48% of those over age 65. Yet, despite this heavy reliance, 90% of Americans begin collecting Social Security benefits (at a steep reduction) before attaining their full retirement age. Early filing is linked to an increase in poverty and income inequality among the elderly, which in some cases may be remedied through more informed benefit-claiming decisions. Continue reading

Social Security in Four Parts

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Part 3: Benefit Categories

The Social Security Act of 1935 and its amendments created four categories of benefits, each based on the earnings records of a covered worker, and each designed to provide a basic level of economic security. In the third segment of our four-part series, we’ll focus on retirement benefits that are linked to the earnings of an individual worker. Continue reading

Social Security in four parts

Social Security ImagePart 2: Eligibility and benefits

In part two of our summary of the Social Security program, we’ll discuss the qualification requirements for retirement benefits, how they are calculated and adjusted, the point at which beneficiaries attain their full retirement age (FRA), and important rules for early or delayed filing. Our final segments will provide a summary of the types of benefits available, and some simple strategies that can help readers maximize their benefits. Continue reading

Social Security in four parts

Social Security

Part 1: history and future

The Social Security Act was signed into law on August 14, 1935, creating a social insurance program to pay retired workers age 65 and older a stable income after retirement. Enacted in the midst of the Great Depression in response to crushing poverty and a shift from agrarian self-sufficiency to post-industrial urbanization, the original Act sought to provide Americans with protection against the “hazards and vicissitudes of life”.  Since its inception, millions of Americans have received benefits from the program, yet despite strong public support, the program has faced a series of funding challenges that continues to threaten its existence. Continue reading

Budgeting with Purpose: why a budget is important and how to make one

Budget Image

Developing a budget may seem a near perfect manifestation of drudgery, which in turn may help explain why so few people expend their time and energy creating one. While budgeting is not an especially creative endeavor (after all, who wants a creative budget?), the effort can pay dividends by placing you more firmly in control of how your money is being allocated. A budget serves as the foundation of a good financial plan. It helps you make informed decisions related to savings, investments, and the trade-off between current and future consumption. Continue reading

What is a retirement income planner and why do you need one?

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Spend an hour in your local library reviewing digitized newspapers from recent decades and the conspicuous dearth of articles focusing on retirement planning may seem odd. Our focus on retirement planning is a relatively recent development and the Retirement Income Planner is a job that did not exist just a few decades ago. Unlike the Social Media Managers and App developers that emerged from nascent technology, the history of financial services predates the Greek Empire, and a modern stockbroker or insurance salesperson would be recognizable to someone alive in the early decades of the last century. Continue reading