By: Thomas H Judge, EA, RFC
There are five key issues to consider when doing an estate plan.
- Avoid Probate
- Minimize Tax
- Proper Distribution of Retirement Accounts
- Set Up Estate Planning so your children dont look forward to you dying.
(This is also called Wealth Transfer)
- Work with your financial advisor and your attorney on all issues.
Here is a checklist of items to be discussed with your attorney:
o Make a will or have your will reviewed.
o Name an executor and successor executor.
o If applicable, name guardian and successor guardian.
o Discuss uses of trusts. (A-B Trust, Revocable Trust and Irrevocable Trust) Note: Because the Will typically incorporates the terms of the Revocable Trust, the Revocable Trust must be executed prior to the Will.
o Durable Power of Attorney (Primary purpose of this document is to avoid guardianship proceedings in the event you become incompetent or incapacitated.) Document should provide for funding of Revocable Trust and gifting. If the Durable Power of Attorney does not expressly grant the agent the authority to make gifts, any gifts made by the agent will be brought back in to the principals taxable estate for federal estate tax purposes upon the principals death.
o Living Will (Terminal Care Document)
o Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care/Health Care Proxy
o Notice of existence of Living Will and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care. (Consider a laminated wallet insert with this information on it)
o Requisite Funding Documentation (For Revocable Trusts to show they were funded.) (Bills of Sale, Deeds, Stock Powers, etc)
o Review all beneficiaries on insurance policies and pension plans and change where necessary.
o Always name a contingent beneficiary. Update policies and pensions accordingly.
o NJ has decoupled from the federal government on the estate tax exemption and therefore all individuals need to reexamine their estate plans.
LONG TERM CARE INSURANCE
I am highly recommending that every client over the age of 45 get long term care insurance. Long term care insurance is the only way to protect your retirement assets.
During your life time you take out insurance on your health, life, home and auto. You do that because of the importance of these things to you and your families.
But what protects your hard earned retirement assets?
Long-term care, also referred to as extended care, is a catch-all phrase that describes three levels of care: skilled care, intermittent skilled care and custodial care. It generally refers to care needs exceeding 90 days. Traditionally, we think of long-term care as being needed only by seniors or by people who are acutely ill. Additionally, most people associated long-term care an institutional setting such as a nursing home. In reality, however, almost one third (1/3) of those receiving extended care are under age 65. Consider some well-known baby boomers such as Christopher Reeves, Mohammed Ali or Richard Pryor, each of who had a chronic illness or injuries that require extended care. Fortunately, all of these individuals were able to afford to have their care provided at home for extended periods of time. But this isnt true for most Americans.
Medicare, Medicare Supplements and Medicare + Choice policies provide skilled care level coverage only. Sadly, these benefits are limited and are subject to strict eligibility requirements.
I know that many of you get confused when you are talking about Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare is the program most of you participate in. Medicaid became law in 1965 as a program to provide medical assistance for certain individuals and families with low incomes and resources. It is the largest program providing medical and health-related services to Americas poorest people.
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of doing the proper estate planning and obtaining long-term care insurance. Please make this a priority.
Thomas H Judge, EA, RFC
Century Business & Financial Services