Monday, January 16, 2017

Make 2017 the Year You Complete Your Estate Plan!

The start of the New Year almost always brings with it new goals and resolutions.  So, what is the best way to meet these goals head-on and successfully complete them?  Oftentimes, the key is in not taking one giant leap, but small steps, providing us the best possible chance to succeed!
With estate planning, adopt a similar approach.  Taking manageable steps can make all the difference between completing your estate plan and giving yourself and your family peace of mind, and putting it off for another year, potentially putting your loved ones at risk in the event something happens to you.  Here are just a few benefits of putting an estate plan in place:
Nominate an individual you trust to make health care decisions:  Nominating a trusted individual who knows your health care wishes can ensure your desires are followed.  Without planning ahead, your family is likely to have to go to Court before making health care decisions on your behalf, incurring additional money and time during an already stressful period.
Name someone to manage your financial affairs if you are unable to do so:  Executing a Financial Power of Attorney ensures your financial affairs continue seamlessly during your life and any legal decisions can be made on your behalf.  In the absence of a Financial Power of Attorney, no one can legally make these decisions for you, whether that person is a spouse, a child, or a close friend.
Provide for your children and loved ones from future potential creditors, predators, and unnecessary taxes:  Protecting your loved ones from others and sometimes themselves, can ensure your desires are followed.  A proper plan promotes family harmony upon your passing by making the process proceed smoothly without undue stress and delays.
Protect your assets, both during your lifetime and after:  Planning ahead can make all the difference in protecting your most cherished assets for yourself and your family members.  Advanced planning options to protect assets in the event of a need for advanced health care expenses may be warranted to protect your assets.
To take the first step toward giving yourself peace of mind and a lasting legacy come to our free educational seminar being held in the Village of Hilbert Community Room on Saturday, February 4th at 10:00 AM.  We will be providing an overview of how a properly drafted comprehensive estate plan can save your family time, money, and promote harmony among your beneficiaries.  Please call or e-mail our Client Services Director Sandie at to reserve your spot today!
For more information about this seminar and our upcoming events, go to today!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Protecting Your Minor Children from the Unexpected

Parents often cite a child’s birth as one of the happiest days of their life.  The child will bring many moments of happiness to your lives and undoubtedly a few trying moments, too.  However, as parents, you also need to consider who would care for your child if you no longer can.  Estate planning can offer some valuable assistance.

A simple will executed by each parent is a common method used to protect minor children.  A will is the only legal avenue (without court intervention) where parents can nominate a legal guardian for children under 18.

So, who should you nominate as a guardian?  Beyond recommending someone you trust and respect, here are some other factors to consider:

·         Guardian’s Location—Will a guardian’s location require a change of schools for your children; will the location allow your children to remain close to existing friends and family?

·         Guardian’s Values—Does the guardian share your core beliefs, a similar philosophy in raising children, religious views, etc.?

·         Guardian’s Suitability—If a guardian has children of their own, could they care for your children too; does the child already have a good relationship with the prospective guardian?
Once a guardian is chosen, the next question is how financial assets should be held to best benefit your children.  A testamentary trust, formed in a parent’s will, is a great tool to hold such assets.

This type of trust secures assets left for your children and can specify an age or ages for asset distribution.  Many parents distribute a percentage of a child’s share every few years, minimizing potential excessive spending of an inheritance at one time.  Without a testamentary trust, all assets are distributed when the child is no longer a minor.  To oversee this trust, you may nominate the above-named guardian, a financial institution, or an entirely different person/entity.

Protections for younger children are absolutely vital. Whether that means completion of a simple will or other estate planning options, this issue deserves consideration by you and your family.