Are you writing this letter to your family and loved ones?
To those I love –
While I understand that I have the right to determine who will inherit my property when I die, I have decided to let the courts make the decisions for me, even though that might mean that people I never knew or never liked could wind up as my heirs.
I also understand that there are perfectly legitimate ways of minimizing the estate taxes my loved ones will have to pay. However, because of the government’s generosity to me throughout my lifetime, I’ve decided to let Uncle Sam take the biggest bite he can.
In addition, rather than deciding who should take care of my children, I have decided that I’d rather have my family fight about it and then let the courts just go ahead and appoint anyone they feel like.
Finally, I know that as a result of not leaving a Will, a significant portion of my assets could be eaten up by lawyers’ bills and that all the private details of my financial affairs will be made public.
Ok, you may not be intentionally sitting down and writing this letter but, if you have NOT taken any action regarding your estate, this is exactly what you are doing.
What are some steps to help get you on the right path?
First, we should have a conversation. No, I do not give legal advice: I’m not licensed to do so. However, we can discuss concerns and wishes you may have and then I can help guide you toward the correct path to take. I cannot create certain items such as Wills, Trusts, or the appointment of Power of Attorney. These are legal documents; therefore, a legal (attorney) person needs to draft and create those for you.
What can I do, other than have a conversation to help you sort out your thoughts? For starters this is a reason that we are sticklers in having you put beneficiary information on as many accounts as possible. Secondly, I can introduce you to some attorneys with whom past clients have worked and had good experiences. In fact, just a couple of weeks ago, I coordinated an online meeting with a client’s Uncle (who isn’t even a client) and an attorney to help assist the conversation for the Uncle. Why did I do that? Because I could and I’m trying to be helpful for my client. I think she appreciated my efforts (you did, right?).
If you have created a will or trust, when was the last time you looked it over for any updates? When my grandmother passed, I went with my grandfather to the courthouse to retrieve a copy of my grandmother’s will. The Will was created in 1970… my grandmother died in 2006. Her Will still had my 51-year-old mother (and her twin brother) going to the older sister to be cared for. So, cleaning the dust off of those documents every 3-5 years might be a good use of your time.
Once you’ve created your documents, be sure to consider the following: Where are they? Who knows about them? Storing your Will in a safe deposit box might sound like a good idea but if no one can gain access to your safe deposit box, it could take months before it can be accessed by an executor. So how was that helpful? I’ve had several clients provide my office with a copy of their documents. We store them in the secure client portal that can be accessed anytime by you or a spouse/partner.
No matter if you have your estate in order or are still procrastinating to start, please include my office in this conversation. We just might be able to save you or your heirs time and money down the road.
Please remember that we are “here” and available for you. If you have any questions or concerns, financial or otherwise, please do not hesitate to call or email. If you have friends, family, or neighbors you feel would benefit from a conversation with me, I’m more than happy to have a call or jump on a Zoom meeting with them.
As always, I hope that you are doing well, and staying safe & healthy!