• Using beneficiary transfers. One or more beneficiaries can be designated on life insurance policies, IRAs and several other assets. The speaker noted, “If a beneficiary is incapacitated, now a guardian is in charge of those funds. If your beneficiary dies before you do, and you have not named a contingent beneficiary,” the asset will go back into the estate. Persons should consider updating policies with beneficiaries named years earlier; they can be changed.
• Having a revocable living trust. The attorney said, “Trusts are being used more and more by people of all ages, whether they’re married or single and whether they have a lot of money or they don’t. Living trusts tend to give you more control over your assets than these other plans .... Unlike a will, however, a living trust does not have to go through probate,” which involves time, money and going to court. He explained, “When you set up a living trust, what you do is you transfer your assets that you own in your own name into a trust.” A trust “let’s you determine when beneficiaries receive assets after your death” to take care of especially special needs children or those who may not do well with a sudden windfall. He estimated it would cost around $1,000 to prepare a trust and all necessary paperwork for a couple.
Wilson concluded that when a couple thinks about estate planning, “you and your spouse both need to be on the same page. You need to agree what your goals and objectives are so you can work together to accomplish them.”
When it’s time to take action, “you should inventory your assets and debts. You need to select a competent estate planning attorney” who can discuss the six areas and decide on the right one or if several would be better. Unsure of which attorney to use? Persons may ask friends and the prospective attorney for references.
The final steps are to have legal documents prepared and “make sure you change the titles if you need to, to carry out the plan you want to put into effect.”
Debbie Blank can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-934-4343, Ext. 113.
First in a two-part series • Part 2: End-of-life health decisions, Nov. 1