Articles Posted in Financial Planning

The unfortunate truth is that everyone’s parents will ultimately pass away even though the average life expectancy is increasing. While some of our parents pass away while we are children, other people lose their parents when they are adults.  Even though this is a grim reality, it is best to prepare for this eventuality. Because you can lose a parent at any time, you should do everything possible to prepare for this occurrence. It’s important to know just why but also how and what to talk about with your parents when it comes to estate planning.

Why These Conversations Are Important

Without documenting plans for your parent’s approach to what will happen after they pass away, you can end up in a difficult situation. Without access to your parent’s funds, you might be left to pay for the various costs they leave behind when they pass away. Unfortunately, this means that some caregivers end up spending their own money in these situations. Besides the additional costs, your parent’s end-of-life plans are also less likely to be achieved. Having conversations about these matters before your parent passes away or becomes incapacitated makes sure you’re able to tackle these issues.

The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently saw the case of Austin v. Roesler and Campbell, which provides some valuable reminders about what to do (and not do) while estate planning. 

The Facts Behind the Case

The case involved a woman who executed her will in 1977, which directed that following the woman’s death the entirety of her property is given to her husband. The will also contains provisions that direct the distribution of assets in case the woman’s husband predeceased her. In this situation, the woman stated that all of her property be transferred to her children. In case any of the woman’s children pass away before her, the woman’s will states that the assets should go to the surviving heirs. 

One unanticipated effect of the Covid-19 pandemic is it made many people realize that time is short. If you delay doing something too long, the risk exists that you might never have the chance to do it. Many people are following this advice when it comes to things like changing jobs, divorcing, and purchasing homes. Estate planning, however, works just the same way.

The Covid-19 Pandemic and Estate Planning

People who delayed estate planning during the Covid-19 pandemic realized just how important it was to create estate plans. This trend continues even though the height of the pandemic has passed. There are some people unfortunately who despite their best effort cannot finalize their estate plans. These individuals begin the estate planning process but then stop. Sometimes, these people try to pick up and complete estate planning months or even years later. These individuals often find themselves simply overwhelmed with the number of choices that must be made in the estate planning process. Other times, people are simply confused about what estate planning strategy works best for them. Additionally, many people resist having to confront their mortality and accept that one day, they simply will not be alive.

The estate planning start-up, Wealth, is pursuing a $180 billion U.S. market by utilizing a digital dashboard that updates holdings in real-time. Many technology companies have offered potential approaches to solving these issues ranging from WillMaker to EverPlans. The CEO of Wealth has stated that he believes his company is pursuing a more unique strategy by appealing to workers that want to offer more value-added benefits.

The Company’s Founding

The company was founded by the former CEO of the company Emailage, which has since been acquired by LexisNexis. The assets from such a sale allow individuals to create, manage, and visualize estate plans through a detailed ecosystem of proprietary legal documents as well as third-party APIs.

The Social Security Program is 86 years old and has become a fundamental aspect of how many aging people pay for expenses. Despite its vast importance, social security is full of challenges and weaknesses. 

Estate planning professionals once referred to a “three-legged stool” for retirement planning in this country.  The three legs included a pension, personal savings, and Social Security payments. Pensions that secure income is not nearly as common as they once were. Furthermore, a very small portion of people in the United States has support from each of these three legs.

Since 1940, however, Social Security has remained a steadfast source of payment. Many people, however, are uncertain about the program’s future. While the program’s demise is not granted, Social Security’s funds are certainly on a downward trend and they must be fixed if they’re to last. If Congress fails to take action, very soon Social Security might lack the funds to pay its promised benefits. 

In the recent case of Clark v. Clark, two brothers initiated legal action against another brother concerning the other brother’s ability to function as trustee of a trust as the result of a brain injury. The men’s mother established a testamentary trust previously that held family business and appointed the third brother as trustee. The will stated that if anything happened to the third brother, the other two brothers would be designated as co-trustees. The two brothers claimed that due to the brain injury, the third brother could no longer function in this role. As a result, the two brothers thought to be named successor co-trustees under the will. 

While the court also considered a nuanced injunction issue, the court ultimately relied on a plain text reading to determine that due to the third brother’s brain injury, the brother had stopped or was not capable of functioning as a trustee and that the other two brothers were appointed successor co-trustees. 

What Makes Succession Planning Critical

When a person passes away, survivors almost always remember the need to take several important actions. Often, some of these actions are time-sensitive and must be performed within a narrow time window. Given the substantial emotional repercussion of losing a loved one, the process is often overwhelming and can even be difficult to navigate. To better prepare you for what happens after an elderly loved one passes away, this article reviews some important steps that you will likely need to take or at the very least consider taking. 

Actions Immediately After a Loved One’s Death

Many people find themselves in shock immediately following a loved one’s death. During this period, it’s critical, however, to take some important steps, which include the following:

While some people anticipated otherwise, 2022 started without any new federal regulation or tax changes addressing estate planning. As proposed legislation passed through the legislative process in 2021, major potential changes to federal estate and gift tax were dropped. These potential changes included a decrease in the estate and gift tax exemption as well as the elimination of a step-up basis.

Furthermore, no reports exist that any changes will be made any time soon. This is not a guarantee, though. Potential changes can emerge at any point in the future. While no changes are looming, it’s worth noting that one substantial change will occur in a few years when in 2025, the federal estate and gift exemption will be reduced to $5,000 per person.

Positive Changes to Estate Planning This Year

Each year, it’s important for anyone interested in planning for the future of their assets to either create or revise their estate plan. Taking the time and including loved ones in estate planning discussions is the best thing that you can do to avoid conflict or estate planning disagreements. 

Estate planning involves planning for the use of your assets after you become incapacitated or pass away. While many people think that estate plans are written in stone, this is not the truth. In actuality, various life events including births and divorce should lead people to review and ultimately revise the terms of their estate plan.

Acknowledge What You Own

TV shows often depict unpleasant estate planning situations that can arise including a deceased person leaving assets to a former spouse. While these situations often do not occur in the way depicted on TV or film including the recent Netflix film I Care A Lot, a former spouse could end up receiving assets from your assets or other undesirable situations can occur if you are not careful. 

For a large number of people in New York as well as the rest of the country, estate planning documents including wills and trusts are a person’s final communication with their loved ones as well as the rest of the world. 

Make Sure to Revise Your Estate Plan

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