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The #1 Reason You Need An Estate Plan

The #1 Reason You Need An Estate Plan

Several reasons to create a good estate plan as well as the number one reason plan your estate: personal peace of mind.

Death. It happens to us all. 

Chances are death is not the first thing you think about every morning, but that doesn’t mean you should never think about it.

A good plan will help make the transition as easy as possible for your family and everyone who depends on you when you’re gone. The resulting peace of mind can help you enjoy the rest of your life, no matter how long you live.

Several Reasons To Create An Estate Plan

There are many reasons to create an estate plan. Minimizing taxes is just one of these reasons.   In fact, a good estate plan could net your family a potential $0 tax liability. That’s one goal, but a well-designed plan will include much more.

Another reason estate planning is helpful is that your wishes have the best chance of being followed if they’re in writing. Recording your intentions will help ensure they’re followed. A comprehensive plan includes instructions for your affairs in the event you are incapacitated or disabled – not just when you die. You can make sure your wishes for medical care, family matters, business continuity, and asset disposition are clear even if you are comatose. So estate planning is not just planning for death.

Moreover, estate planning addresses assets for your children, grandchildren, and your favorite charities. Blended families add another layer of complexity if that’s your situation.  There are numerous ways to do this and the right plan isn’t always obvious. But a good estate plan will make your wishes clear – and help your family avoid unnecessary strife when you pass.

But Isn’t A Will Enough?

The classic “Last Will & Testament” is also a part of an estate plan, but it’s not comprehensive. Retirement accounts require you to designate a beneficiary ahead of time and that designation may override your legal will. The same goes with insurance policies. Your estate plan should encompass all your assets and make sure they are distributed according to your wishes. That’s why having a will isn’t the only component in a good estate plan.

The #1 Reason To Plan Your Estate

There are many reasons for estate planning, but the number one reason to do it is for your own personal peace of mind. 

You’ve worked hard for your family, usually for many decades. You’ve provided for your family, sometimes have grown a business, saved assets, bought properties, and invested in worthwhile causes. Your estate plan is one of your final statements to the world about who you are and what you care about. By creating a good estate plan, you are not only giving your spouse and your family what you’ve worked hard for, you’re also giving yourself the peace of mind that you’ve finished the race well. 

Next Steps In Estate Planning

Estate planning is an important part of a broader financial plan. 

We can help direct you to the right resources and experts based on your own unique goals and circumstances. We are not attorneys at Republic Wealth Advisors, but we’ve been through this process with many clients. We’ve seen how smooth the process can be for well-prepared families, and how difficult it can be for those who didn’t plan.

We recommend consulting with a board certified estate planning attorney in your area. If you need a referral, please reach out and we’re happy to make an introduction!

 


 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION: Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Republic Wealth Advisors), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Republic Wealth Advisors.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Republic Wealth Advisors is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of this blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  If you are a Republic Wealth Advisors client, please remember to contact Republic Wealth Advisors, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services. A copy of the Republic Wealth Advisors’ current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.

 

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Estate Planning, Death & A Good Financial Strategy

Estate Planning, Death & A Good Financial Strategy

Estate planning basics, one family’s experience, and how to get your financial affairs in order.

Estate planning can be an uncomfortable process.

While no one likes talking about death, it is one of the few certainties in life.  It is a “when” not “if” proposition, and it is important to plan ahead so that you can control how your assets pass to your heirs (and also not leave a burden to someone else to sort through your affairs when they can’t consult you).  

Estate Planning Basics

There are several things you can do to prepare for your inevitable passing (or your disability). For instance, we recommend you…

  • Identify all individual (and spousal assets) and determine who should receive them.
     
  • Include instructions for your care if you become disabled before you die.
     
  • Name a guardian for minor children.
     
  • Locate and safeguard all life insurance policies.
     
  • Review and update beneficiaries on assets and policies.
     
  • Understand pensions and retirement plans.

Although this isn’t a comprehensive list, it should help you start thinking about the importance of estate planning today. Planning can save weeks and months of heartache in an already taxing time. But with proper planning, the death of a spouse doesn’t have to be as stressful on you personally or financially. 

One Couple’s Experience with Estate Planning: The Lupos 

In a recent story in the The New York Times, one couple’s estate planning helped tremendously.

One couple who went through this exercise, Erika and John Lupo of Sparta, N.J., did so sooner than most, and it paid off. When Mr. Lupo died of cancer last year at age 57, Ms. Lupo, 51, who runs an acting school, was extraordinarily well prepared — unlike many widows.

In his final days, Mr. Lupo, a former salesman, did everything he could to prepare his estate and make sure his wife knew where his assets were — and how they could be bequeathed to her and heirs. There was a bit of complex estate and financial planning involved, because Mr. Lupo had a daughter from a previous marriage, and the couple has a teenage son.

Working with Mark Germain, a certified financial planner with Beacon Wealth Management in Hackensack, N.J., Mr. Lupo had several documents in order just a few weeks before he died.

“We made out wills, durable powers of attorney and a trust” for Mr. Lupo’s daughter, Mr. Germain said. “We also made some arrangements for the son in the will. We had to do some sophisticated planning.”
 

In this instance, the Lupos’ estate planning was complex. There was a previous marriage, another child, and a teenage son in the mix. But with the help of a good financial planner, the Lupos were able to order their financial affairs to help sustain the family when the patriarch passed on. 

Getting Your Estate In Order

Each individual’s (and family’s)situation is unique. What may have been true for the Lupos may have nothing to do with your circumstances. That’s why it’s important to connect with the right professionals to complete your estate planning.  Even if you have previously completed estate planning, the plan should be reviewed periodically to determine if changes are needed.

We recommend consulting with a board certified estate planning attorney in your area. If you need a referral, please reach out and we’re happy to make an introduction!

 


 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION: Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Republic Wealth Advisors), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Republic Wealth Advisors.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Republic Wealth Advisors is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of this blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  If you are a Republic Wealth Advisors client, please remember to contact Republic Wealth Advisors, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services. A copy of the Republic Wealth Advisors’ current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.

 

 

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10 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

10 Biggest Estate Planning Mistakes

Here are some of the most common estate planning mistakes we see in the business. 

Estate planning may be a difficult topic to discuss, but it’s vital. How you will distribute assets after death or plan for incapacitation is an important component of every financial plan.

The Financial Planning Association recently published a helpful article on common estate planning mistakes by Caroline Demirs Calio, J.D.  Here are some of the most common estate planning mistakes we see in the business.

Mistake #1: Not developing an estate plan.

If you don’t direct how your assets will be distributed at your death, your state will decide. Formalizing your wishes may also save your family some heartache after you are gone and could help prevent inter-family arguments, which could cost more in legal fees.

Mistake #2: Failing to create a complete list of assets and keep good records.

A complete list of your assets and an approximation of their value will aid in crafting an appropriate estate plan that takes into account potential estate tax exposure and other issues that arise in estates of your size.

Mistake #3: Failing to update beneficiary designations.

Life insurance proceeds and retirement plans can comprise a large portion of a person’s wealth. Life insurance, IRAs, pensions, and other employee benefits do not pass under your will or trust but are governed by beneficiary designation. Update all your beneficiary designations to make sure they match your current wishes and are consistent with your other estate planning documents.

Mistake #4: Failing to name appropriate fiduciaries.

Acting as a fiduciary is oftentimes consuming and complex. As your life and circumstances change, your views of who would be best in each capacity may change. An essential aspect of creating and updating your estate plan is regularly reviewing the individuals and institutions you have appointed in fiduciary roles to take on these responsibilities after you are gone.

Mistake #5: Failing to correctly title assets.

Incorrect or haphazard titling of your assets can have unintentional consequences. For example, certain ownership arrangements (such as trusts) will avoid probate on your assets at your death.  In addition, as part of the estate planning process, your assets can be titled to take advantage of any state estate tax exemptions and federal estate tax exemptions that are available.

Mistake # 6: Failing to consider incapacity.

When most people consider estate planning, they automatically think of death. However, in addition to covering the distribution of your assets, your estate plan should set forth who will make decisions for you if you are incapable of making them yourself. Things to consider: durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and living will.

Mistake #7: Failing to structure gifts and inheritances appropriately.

Estate plans are not one-size-fits-all. Your estate plan should not be cookie-cutter, but rather designed for the state in which you live and to consider your beneficiaries’ needs and circumstances. For example, minor children’s assets may be managed in a trust or a special needs beneficiary may need special consideration. Make your estate planning fit your family structure.

Mistake #8: Failing to properly administer an irrevocable life insurance trust.

Life insurance proceeds will be includable in your estate if you own the policy at the time of your death. If the value of your estate (including the life insurance proceeds) exceeds the applicable estate tax exemption amounts, it may be prudent to create an irrevocable life insurance trust to hold the policy, thereby sheltering the proceeds from estate taxes at your death.

Mistake #9: Failing to consider gifting techniques during life.

It is not uncommon for an older person to ask for estate planning advice. Although some techniques can be employed at older ages, in most cases better results (for example, lower estate taxes) could have been achieved through an earlier gifting program. Properly implemented, this technique can save tens of thousands in taxes later.

Mistake #10: Failing to review and update your estate plan.

It is tempting to prepare an estate plan and put it on a shelf and forget about it. However, because of various changes, estate plans should be reviewed after significant changes in federal or state estate tax laws, when life events occur (marriage, divorce, birth of children and/or grandchildren).  And, in any event, every three to five years.

If you have any questions about the above or need specific advice regarding estate planning, we recommend speaking to a board certified estate planning attorney. If you need a referral to one, our team at Republic Wealth Advisors is happy to help you find someone who can meet your needs.

 


 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE INFORMATION: Please remember that past performance may not be indicative of future results.  Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product (including the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by Republic Wealth Advisors), or any non-investment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly in this blog will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful.  Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or applicable laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions.  Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this blog serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Republic Wealth Advisors.  To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed above to his/her individual situation, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.  Republic Wealth Advisors is neither a law firm nor a certified public accounting firm and no portion of this blog content should be construed as legal or accounting advice.  If you are a Republic Wealth Advisors client, please remember to contact Republic Wealth Advisors, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services. A copy of the Republic Wealth Advisors’ current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees is available upon request.

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