Today’s Money Monday is the last in our series of financial fundamentals as we close out January 2022. Can you believe it? January is over, and February is about to begin. How are you doing with your financial goals and plans for 2022? To complete our series, we need to explore the area of estate planning in your finances. This financial fundamental is often overlooked, and not having one could prove to be very costly in the end. What sense would it make for you to figure out your 401(K), pension, budget, investments and not create an estate plan for your legacy or family members should some unfortunate circumstances occur? I don’t need to remind you that in the year 2022, we will be facing more tragedies, floods, earthquakes, tornados, and Covid-19. Life is going to happen!. While there are many questions involved in this process, I just want to get you started taking some action today in this blog. Let’s talk Money Monday Fundamentals on the Zoom Conversation on January 31, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/ThatThingCalledMoney_013122
Is an Estate Plan Necessary?
An estate plan is necessary! I can provide several reasons you need to have an estate plan whether you’re single or married, rich or poor. My first answer as to why you need an estate plan is because having a plan is responsible stewardship -plain and simple! But for those who need a few more reasons why you need an estate plan, here are some others.
While it is referred to as an “estate plan,” you don’t need to have an estate to have a plan. Don’t allow the language to mislead you and believe the myth. Generally, everybody should have an estate plan.
An estate plan is for when you die. NO! Most people think of an estate plan within the context of death. But the reality is that an estate plan can be effective and critical while alive. Let’s assume you are about to undergo surgery and will be out of commission for a few days or weeks. An estate planning document, known as a power of attorney, may be beneficial in making sure that your affairs are attended to while you are incapacitated. Perhaps it’s time for you to reframe your thinking about preparing estate planning documents from the perspective of death and dying to its use while you are alive and doing well.
How to Prepare an Estate Plan
The first step in putting together an estate plan is assembling your financial and non -information. Engaging a professional to assist you in completing this task would be wise since they would ultimately be the person creating your legal documents. But finding someone you can trust with all your private information is complex, so where do you begin?
You begin by talking to friends, family members, and colleagues about finding a responsible professional. That may be through a referral or personal knowledge. Before you select the person to prepare your documents, the following questions may be helpful. For example, how long have you been practicing law? How long have you been practicing this type of law? How many estates have you settled? What is the typical asset level of your clients? Do you have experience with situations like mine? Do you have experience with tax planning? These are just some of the questions you may want to ask while deciding whom you will retain to prepare your most critical documents.
Perhaps one of the most challenging decisions you will make is the selection of individuals who will be responsible for executing your wishes while dead or alive. There is no mandatory standard for selecting someone, say like they need to have a college degree. However, they can’t be a minor; they should be responsible and pay attention to some level of detail. I mean, you don’t want to select your eldest child to manage your affairs, just because they are the most senior. They may even be your favorite. But that may not necessarily mean they’ll be responsible. This is important! They will be performing the following roles:
Executor or Trustee
This is the person who gathers all your assets and liabilities and ensures transactions are handled and distributed as you have spelled out in your will or trust. Let’s hope you choose someone comfortable with numbers and keeping track of things – someone who can make good decisions!
Durable/Financial Power of Attorney
This is the person making all your financial decisions while you are alive but perhaps disabled, incapacitated, or unable to manage your financial affairs. While there is no standard required to select your power of attorney outside of capacity, let’s face it! I think they need to know more than just how to balance a checkbook- if that still exists. You may not like this, but choosing this person should not be an emotional decision. Leave your emotions out of selecting a responsible steward over your affairs.
This is a person who will look after your children should you or your spouse expire while they are minors. Here, you absolutely need to choose people who share your parenting views and values. I would argue that they also need to have some financial acumen. If they’re going to raise kids, do they know anything about budgeting? By the time they purchase a few Air Jordans for the kids, will there be any money left for a college education? Choose wisely!
Today’s what’s up is about banking. There is no reason to pay fees on your checking account. In a recent Bankrate survey of 245 banks, 48% of non-interest-bearing checking accounts were fee-free. When I say fee-free, I mean checking accounts that do not require minimum balances, no activity rules such as using your debit cards X number of times, or no monthly fees. Free does not include ATM fees or account overdrafts. If you are still incurring fees on your checking account, the most common way to avoid those fees is to have a direct deposit. And that’s what’s up! Let’s talk Money Monday fundamentals on the Zoom Conversation on January 31, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Sign up at: https://bit.ly/ThatThingCalledMoney_013122
Ruthven R. Phillip, Esq., is a tax attorney, Stewardship and Philanthropy Ministry Assistant, and CEO of Give2Getrich, LLC. Give2Get Rich, LLC 2022. All Rights Reserved. Any distribution or reproduction of part or all of the contents in any form is prohibited.