An Act of Love
Creating an effective strategy for your estate involves much more than eliminating estate taxes or maximizing how much you leave behind. It is primarily about two things: love and financial wisdom. It is a loving act because it allows you to protect yourself while you are alive as well as your heirs after you are gone. It is an act of financial wisdom because it enables you to protect the assets you have accumulated while also making sure that you give what you want, when you want, to whom you want, how you want. Wise planning can ensure that your financial and personal needs are taken care for the rest of your life.
This should explain why we say that estate planning is not only for the wealthy. Besides the reasons we’ve stated, everyone needs to have trusted individuals in place in the event of incapacity or death. The most important nominations are Guardians for minor children, Medical Advocates for health care decisions, as well as legal representatives to make financial decisions on your behalf if you can no longer do so. These nominations have to be made in Wills, Health Care, and Durable Powers of Attorney. In order to minimize great confusion and stress on your children Advance Directives are also necessary in order to clarify your desires with regards to end of life issues.
A Living Trust
One of the most important elements of legacy planning is the establishment of a Living Trust. Regardless of the size of your estate, it is our belief that a Living Trust is the best way to protect your financial interests and those of your family when you are no longer here to do so. The Living Trust is the most effective vehicle to minimize estate taxes and efficiently pass your assets on to your heirs. The main benefit of a Living Trust is that it bypasses both the delay, exposure and substantial expense of Probate. It also allows you to maintain control of your assets even if you become incapacitated, and can significantly protect your spouse or heirs when you are gone. A well-drafted Living Trust can provide surviving spouses and children virtually an iron-clad shield from what we call creditors and predators.
Over the past five years there have been substantial changes in the laws affecting your estate and the requirements for your representatives in the event of incapacity. Since so much has changed, we recommend that any existing plan or estate planning documents be reviewed by an attorney specializing in this unique area of law. Reviewing your legacy plan is a crucial step in providing the peace of mind of knowing that it will actually accomplish your goals and will help eliminate stress and confusion among your loved ones after you are gone. Regular reviews are important to ensure that your plan expresses your current desires and takes into consideration changes in the law as well as changes in your family’s life. It is for this reason that we consider legacy planning as one of the most loving things you can do for your loved ones.
*Annuities are designed to be long-term investments. Early withdrawals may impact annuity cash values and death benefits. Taxes are payable upon withdrawal of funds. An additional 10% IRS penalty may apply to withdrawals prior to age 59 ½. Annuities are not guaranteed by FDIC or any other governmental agency. Guarantees are based on the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. Fixed Indexed Annuities are insurance products and not considered a security or investment. Some restrictions may apply. Call for specific details and availability.