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Deb's Review of the Year

Since SKV has been in business for a year now, I thought I'd take the chance to review.

What can I say, I’ve learned a lot! I love that each client brings something new to the table. But to be honest, the biggest thing I have learned is that everyone needs to prepare for the future. I know we have been stating it over and over and maybe it is beating a dead horse. But I cannot tell you how often my clients say, “I wish we knew what my mom wanted to do.” Or, “I can’t afford to pay the mortgage, let alone the utilities bills.” Or, “What did my dad want done with his stuff?”

While you may think you do not need a plan for the future, you do. Especially if you are living in a blended family. There are additional problems involved when trying to decipher what a stepparent wanted. It is common for half siblings to argue over who should be appointed to represent the estate of their parent.

To me, safeguarding means protecting my loved ones from making tough decisions. And in order to safeguarding your future you need to do the following: discuss your plan with your children.

There is no way to safeguard your future and your legacy if you haven't discussed it with those who will carry it on. So, explain it to your children and your stepchildren. Tell them what you want to happen when you are gone or incapacitated. You want everyone to know the plan in order to protect your loved ones from making the tough decisions. This also creates peace within the family.

After you share your plans, do the paperwork. The paperwork helps everyone process and understand the plan and, like a recipe, gives them directions on what you wanted when the time comes.

What’s the paperwork? I am glad you asked. You need to have the following items: (i) Power of Attorney (POA); (ii) Trust; (iii) Will; and (iv) Health Care Directive/Living Will. Though we've covered all of these documents in other blogs, let’s review.

A power of attorney gives someone the ability to step into your shoes while you are alive. Like superheroes, the powers granted to the person can range. You can limit the powers to acceptance of money only or to conveying property. Another wonderful thing about Powers of Attorney is, if drafted correctly, they can be used while you are vacation in a foreign country and your agent is here and things need to be signed. It’s not always about incapacitation, it can just be for when you’re not available.

You may think you do not need a Trust. You have no money or assets, but in reality anyone with a title to a home, a car, or assets that require transfer of said title needs a trust. Most people believe that a trust is simply a way to avoid estate taxes and inheritance taxes, but the most important aspect of a trust is actually to avoid probate. Probate is going to a court and getting a judge to appoint a personal representative to step into the shoes of the dead person and to act in their stead. Why do you want to avoid probate? For the same reason you avoid court now. It’s time consuming and costly. A Trust is a game plan written down so all your family has to do is follow it. It’s not for the rich, it’s for the people with stuff, any stuff.

The Will is a way that you can disperse certain items to certain people. SKV’s wills include a special memorandum allowing you choose to give your favorite possessions, whether they be a car or jewelry or a painting, to a specific person and keep that item out of the trust. We also draft what we call a “pour-over” clause for those items that you may have forgotten about, like stock in Apple or Facebook or maybe some mineral interest under developing lands, which allows items to be put into the trust and to avoid estate taxes and inheritance taxes.

I cannot stress enough that everyone should have a health directive/living will. To me, this is the most precious piece of paperwork of all. This tells everyone what you want done when things go awry. You never want your kids sitting around the kitchen table asking, “Does mom want to hang on to life attached to all those machine?” You never want the survivors to guess what you desire. Let them know now. Decide whether you are okay with advancing science and donating your body to testing. Make these decisions while you are cognitive and functioning at full capacity.

I hope this helps you understand the steps I think everyone needs to safeguard the future. Again, my experience this last year has been listening to the survivors state “If only they knew” what the person wanted.

Don’t create a problem when you pass, create a solution. Communicate with your loved ones about what you want done and put it in writing. Call us today to discuss setting up the paperwork needed to safeguard your future. Schedule a free initial consultation here:


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