Category: Estate Planning

States You Shouldn’t Be Caught Dead In

WSJ logoA colleague of mine, Gregory Gassert, who is in our Minneapolis affiliate at Guardian Wealth Strategies, was recently featured in a WSJ article entitled, States You Shouldn’t Be Caught Dead In. In this piece, Hawaii is featured as one of two states that track the U.S.’s $5 million-plus exemption. However, as Gassert shares, “most state exemptions aren’t indexed for inflation, extending the tax’s reach over time.”

So what can be done to minimize or avoid potential problems? As with most financial planning issues, experts say, “careful planning is required to avoid traps—especially for taxpayers who move to another state.” And to be clear, there are a host of strategies to mitigate federal and/or state estate taxes. For one, consider section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code which provides for an often overlooked estate planning vehicle designed to protect assets away from estate taxes over multiple generations and can act like an education endowment. For more applicable details as it relates to your situation, you will want to have a more in-depth discussion with your estate planning attorney or CPA. http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304682504579155510034634716

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Estate Planning and the Importance of Drafting a Will

Often, the prospect of writing a will brings up feelings of discomfort. And yet, devising a will is one of the most important factors in estate planning, one that should promote feelings of security. Doing so means that heirs will be provided for and your distribution wishes will be met. Like many people, have you postponed the task of writing a will? Or, is it time to review a will drafted years ago? A will is a formal, legal document instructing your survivors in the settlement of your estate. A qualified, experienced, legal professional can help ensure your will is properly written and contributes to the overall success of your estate plan.

Composing a will helps to ensure that you control how your estate is divided. An estate that is not covered by a will (also known as an intestate estate) will bring into effect your state’s intestacy rules. These rules govern how your estate will be divided and by whom. Some people may believe their estate is too minor to need a will, but even if you believe this is the case, you should consider writing one anyway. The reason is simple: If you die without a will, you automatically forfeit the chance to direct the dealings of your estate. In addition to facilitating bequests, a will is an opportunity for you to designate your own executor, guardians for minor children, and other fiduciaries.

If you have decided that you would like your estate to pass to personal friends or charity, a will is the primary means of fulfilling these wishes. Without a will, the courts will have no way of knowing your preferences and will seek relatives—however distant—for distribution purposes. For those who have life partners and are not married, wills are a means of helping to ensure that these loved ones will be included. In addition, a will offers the opportunity to designate a secondary beneficiary in the event of the primary beneficiary’s death.

Even those who have shifted the majority of their assets into trusts or who use joint ownership should draw up a will. While these methods are designed to bypass probate (the judicial process that establishes the validity of a will), they are not able to cover all assets. A will, however, does have the potential to cover all assets, leaving no property unaccounted for and no stone unturned.

Wills are a means of providing security to you and your loved ones. The topic may be emotionally challenging, but when the many advantages are considered, they far outweigh temporary discomfort. Careful estate planning is the best way to identify how your assets will be divided, who is to be named executor, and who will receive benefits according to your wishes. Consult a legal professional for specific guidance.

Copyright © 2011 Liberty Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

You Do It For L-O-V-E

What do love and life insurance have in common? More than you might realize. The main reason you buy life insurance is because you love someone. Think of it as the ultimate act of selfless love. Life insurance isn’t glamorous or sexy, but it is essential to protecting you, the ones you love, and/or your business.

In my book, life insurance is a product of love. It may sound a bit sappy, but the toughest of us will wish we had it when our family most needs it. It’s your choice. Choose to leave a positive and lasting legacy, not a burdensome reminder of you being gone, along with your missed income.

Having a sound financial plan requires knowing which insurance and investments products to buy. But there are literally thousands of insurance policies, annuities, etc. from which to choose. That’s where a qualified insurance professional can help. Contact me today for your free insurance/estate analysis and review.

This video drives home this very powerful concept.

Here’s a free resource guide: “What You Need To Know About Life Insurance”.

http://www.lifehappens.org/pdf/printable-consumer-guide/life-insurance-pcg.pdf

Listen Up Hawaii: Ignore LTC Planning at Your Peril

Check out this article that appeared in the NY Times:

Ignore Long-Term Care Planning at Your Peril

You may never need long term care, but if you do, you’ll know that you’re prepared for whatever life may bring.

Most of us realize the fact that it’s going to be more expensive for us to take care of ourselves down the road, and we need to budget accordingly. Prior to making any decisions, make sure you talk to your advisor or agent about how to handle any proposed increases or changes in policy structure.

Consider this: In a recent Financial Planning Association blog, Ira L. Barnett, LUTCVF, said, “There are two possible mistakes someone can make in deciding to obtain LTC insurance: 1. Buy the coverage and never have a claim (loss of premium paid, lost income potential, etc.). 2. Not buy the coverage and have a claim. Personally, mistake #1 is a lot more attractive!”

So when is the best time to buy long term care insurance?

Answer – Of course, most of us need to balance our investments and expenses carefully, and long term care insurance has to be factored in with many other responsibilities. But it is important to note that long term care insurance is generally less expensive for younger buyers than for older ones. In addition, it is smart to buy long term care insurance while you are relatively healthy. Unfortunately, once a person’s health declines, he or she may become ineligible for long term care insurance.

The simple answer is this: the right time to buy long term care insurance is when you can afford it, and before you need it. We can work with you to help create a policy that meets your needs and suits your budget. Call me for a FREE needs analysis and informational booklet, (808)216-4147.

“What is Your Greatest Asset?”

Without hesitation, many people believe that their greatest asset is their home, or their retirement savings. Neither is correct. To be clear, your greatest asset is your ability to earn an income, that is, to make money and bring home a paycheck.

In a nutshell, my job is to help my clients protect their paycheck. My role is to solve a problem, and in this case, risk is their problem. We facilitate the transfer of risk. As I tell my valued clients, “let’s face it, your greatest asset desperately needs to be protected…” It is the foundation on which all of their hopes, dreams and aspirations are built. Without this type of “paycheck protection” coverage, it leaves them vulnerable financially. Continue reading

Top 10 Reasons to Buy a Long Term Care (LTC) Insurance Policy

Perhaps Dorothy, in “The Wizards of Oz”, said it best: There’s no place like home! That’s why many Hawaii residents who need LTC prefer to receive it in their own homes. The ability to live independently is critical to maintaining quality of life. Remember, long-term care is not just about nursing homes anymore. Ultimately, coverage gives you the freedom of choice.

Here are my top ten reasons to buy LTC insurance coverage:

1. You will have an experienced professional available to plan for your care at home, providing all types of services related to your particular illness, injury, or condition.

2. Your family can be part of the care plan, but will not have to be the planners.

3. You will have the money to pay for long term care (according to PBN, Hawaii ranked 7th most expensive in the nation for home care services, with a median annual rate of $51,480 in 2010) without having to deplete the family nest egg.

4. Your loved ones can carry on a more normal life rather than being subject to your everyday (“activities of daily living” like bathing, dressing, eating, toileting, etc.) needs.

5. Your family will be able to attend to your needs out of love rather than obligation.

6. Because you’ll have the funds, you will be able to choose your own facility or choose to stay at home longer rather than prematurely entering a nursing home.

7. You will be able to leave some of what you have to your family rather than using up a large portion of their assets to pay for needed care.

8. You will be able to stay with your children or other loved ones without depending on them for all your care.

9. You can feel good knowing that all of the money you worked so hard to attain won’t be used up in a few short years (PBN reported that Hawaii’s nursing home costs have a median annual rate of $114,975, compared to the national average of $75,190).

10. Finally, there will be less friction between family members; one member won’t be stuck with the responsibility of caregiving.

M. Garrett Wheeler is a long-term care specialist with Guardian in Honolulu, Hawaii. He’ll be glad to explore your options for coverage that suits you best, so that if you ever need it, you’ll have the freedom to choose the care setting that is most appropriate for your circumstances. He may be reached at gage@successhawaii.com or by phone at (808) 216-4147.