Month: May 2015

Estate Planning – A Process, Not an Event

Estate Planning – A Process, Not an Event

You have signed all of your estate planning documents and, if your plan includes trusts, completed their funding. You sit back, relax, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with completing that task. But don’t bask in that feeling for too long—estate planning is an ongoing process, not a one-time event.

Why Your Estate Plan Will Need to Evolve

Your estate plan is designed in light of what is known at the time; a snapshot, if you will, of you, your family, your financial situation and the tax laws as they existed and were anticipated to change in the future at the time it was prepared. All of those things do change during your lifetime, and often in ways that were not anticipated. When the unanticipated happens, your estate plan will need to change, to adjust.

It is unreasonable to expect that a basic will-based plan created when you were a newlywed living in an apartment would still be all you need when you have children, a home, and a business. Life’s curve balls – such as a divorce, a loved one who has special needs, or changes in the tax laws can also make plan adjustments advisable.

Events that Trigger Changes to Your Estate Plan

Maintaining an estate plan has been compared to maintaining an automobile. Both need periodic attention if you expect them to perform the way you want when you need them. While a car will have time and mileage checkpoints for servicing, your estate plan will have event checkpoints and should be checked periodically, too.

Generally, any significant change in your personal, family, financial or health situation, or a change in the tax laws should prompt an estate plan review. The following list can be used as a guide, but is by no means all-inclusive:

Personal and family changes:

Caution: Writing Your Own Deed to Avoid Probate Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

Caution: Writing Your Own Deed to Avoid Probate Can Lead to Unintended Consequences

One common way to avoid probate of real estate after the owner dies is to hold the title to the property in joint names with rights of survivorship with children or other beneficiaries. This is accomplished by adding the names of the children and certain legal terms to a new deed for the property and then recording it in the applicable public land records.

Many people believe that they do not need to pay an attorney to help them prepare and record the new deed. Instead, they think that a deed form can simply be downloaded from the internet or obtained from a book that can then be easily filled out and recorded. But deeds are in fact legal documents that must comply with state law in order to be valid. In addition, in most states, property will not pass to the other owners listed in a deed without probate unless certain specific legal terms are used in the deed.

How is a Defective Deed or an Invalid Deed Corrected?

Take Control of Worry

Take Control of Worry

What worries you about your finance? Are you worried that you are making financial mistakes that will affect your future? Do you worry about losing your job, unexpected emergencies, running out of money, paying taxes or paying for college for your children? Financial stress can have a negative impact on your emotional well-being and your health. It can also do the same for other family members. Developing a comprehensive financial plan will alleviate your financial stress as well as improve the return on your investments, lower your tax obligation and provide a more stable income. Do not allow your finances to control you — take control of your finances.

Concern of Finances is Fairly Common for Many People

If you lay awake at night worrying about your finances, you are not alone. When you are not sleeping at night, it negatively affects your cognitive functions, mood and immune system. This can cause friction with other family members, poor performance at work and stress relationships with friends. Many families are still recovering from the negative effects of the recession including losing substantial assets when the stock market dropped.

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