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A bit of crucial planning now can save a ton...

A bit of crucial planning now can save a ton of headache-heartache later on

(Article previously published in Ponte Vedra Recorder, Ponte Vedra Florida 4/2/15)

One of the areas we focus on in our practice is estate planning. Estate planning is the process of anticipating and arranging for the distribution of assets and belongings during a persons life. People often perceive estate planning as only for the highly affluent but that’s just not the case; many can benefit from estate planning especially as the regulatory landscape is constantly changing. Here are just a handful of common mistakes and misconceptions regarding estate planning:

1. Setting it and forgetting it

This mistake applies to many situations in the financial world but also applies in estate planning where clients set up their estate planning documents and then rarely look at them again. You should continue to review and revise your estate planning documents as needed over the years. For instance: a divorce, a death, newly acquired or sold properties, changes in estate laws, etc., etc. All of these examples can give cause for revisions to be made to your estate planning documents.

2. “I have a will so I’m all set!”

Having only a will does not keep your estate out of probate court. We recommend most people have a trust that includes a “pour over” will. Upon the grantor’s death, assets will be dispersed according to the grantor’s wishes and avoid probate (which can be very costly to your heirs). A trust covers much more than just the distribution of your “things”. Estate planning documents should include a trust, a pour-over will, a durable power of attorney, a living will and a healthcare surrogate.

3. Thinking your work is done after establishing a trust

A trust does not actually exist unless it holds assets. In other words, you must fund your trust. You can re-title your accounts and other non-IRA assets, such as a home, in the name of your trust.

4. Thinking all of your assets will follow your will or trust

Insurance policies and retirement accounts have their own beneficiary forms. These assets do not go through your trust. Insurance policies & retirement accounts need to be reviewed from time to time as well. Whoever is designated on those beneficiary forms will receive those funds at your death. Review & revise as necessary and as often as is needed. Additional children and grandchildren may have come along since you initially set up these accounts. A divorce or a death may have occurred and those changes need to be made as well. These changes can be made easily and it cost nothing to make these very necessary beneficiary changes directly through your provider or custodian.

If you haven’t reviewed your estate plans recently, we ask you to consider doing so. A bit of crucial planning now can save a ton of headache/heartache later on.

Frederic “Ric” Schilling is a Florida native, born in Jacksonville, Fl. Ric is President of Senior Guardians of America, a local North Florida firm specializing in tax reduction, long term illness planning, asset protection, probate avoidance and life income planning. Ric is a National Speaker and Advocate on Senior Issues and has been featured by the Florida Times Union and WJXT, TV-4 in Jacksonville as an authority on Estate Planning and Retirement Issues. Senior Guardians has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member in excellent standing with the National Ethics Association. Contact Frederic : 904-371-3302 or 888-891-3381 Please visit: www.seniorguardian.com This article is not intended to give tax or legal advice. Securities offered through Center Street Securities, Inc.(CSS), a registered Broker-Dealer and Member of FINRA & SIPC. Senior Guardians is independent of CSS.

This article is not intended to give tax or legal advice. Securities offered through Center Street Securities, Inc.(CSS), a registered Broker-Dealer and Member of FINRA & SIPC. Senior Guardians is independent of CSS.