On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – July 26, 2019
Tom P Blake columnist
Estate Planning for seniors – Get it done
A couple of items inspired today’s eNewsletter. First item was an email from Champ Mark, whom, as you may recall, asked if Greta and I would try to locate the graves where his parents are buried in American Samoa, when Greta and I were on our 82-day trip last November (we found and sent pictures of the burial sites).
Mark suggested I write about estate planning. He said, “Maybe it’s because so many in my age group have been ill, injured, or died, in the past few years. It seems like the question, ‘Do you have a will?’ comes up a lot these days.
“To my surprise, the most frequent answer is ‘No.’ I then offer about 30 seconds of amateur knowledge about the benefits of having a will, trust, power of attorney and advanced medical directive.
“No doubt you are aware this is important among seniors, who ‘don’t want to burden their children,’ but do just that when they die without a plan. Not to mention when they become ill without an advanced medical directive.”
The second item that inspired today’s eNewsletter was a brief article in the July/August 2019 AARP Bulletin, titled, “Free Fallin’.” The subhead read: “Tom Petty’s Wife and Daughters battle Over His Estate.” (For those who don’t understand the title, Free Fallin’ was the name of one of Tom Petty’s better songs.)
Photo courtesy of AARP Bulletin
The article stated that Petty’s widow is in court battling with his daughters from a previous marriage over Petty’s estate. The article added, “Petty’s case should serve as a warning, says Eric Martin, an estate lawyer and author…
“He (Martin) lists three rules for those over 50. Have your affairs in order, no matter your health. Select an executor of your will, an agent with power of attorney and a trustee—and record the choices. And be certain to choose beneficiaries.”
My estate planning attorney is Jeffrey Hartman San Clemente, California. I asked Jeffrey if he would share estate planning words of wisdom for our Champs; Jeffrey wrote: “A qualified estate planning attorney can assist you with the following:
- Planning for a potential period of incapacity, and the need to have another person manage your finances and make health care decisions on your behalf. A Financial Durable Power of Attorney and an Advance Health Care Directive are important documents that allow your designated Agent to act for you while you are incapacitated.
- Planning for the transfer of your assets to your intended beneficiaries at your death, and, avoiding the probate court process. With a Will, you designate your beneficiaries who will receive distributions from your estate, and your Executor who manages the estate and makes the distributions. However, if your estate is over $150,000, your Will has to be administered in probate court.
- With a Living Trust, you can also designate your beneficiaries who will receive distributions from your Trust, and your Trustee who manages the Trust and makes the distributions, but without the need for Probate (saving extra time, hassle and money). A Living Trust also allows your Trustee to manage your assets in the Trust if you become incapacitated, without the need for a Conservatorship.
- Planning to minimize or eliminate estate taxes, income taxes and property taxes.
“The different approaches to estate planning have various legal and tax consequences which should be carefully analyzed by a qualified professional.”
Ask him for a blank ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONNAIRE; I’ll bet he’ll email you one.
On August 30, 2017, I wrote an eNewsletter titled, “The importance of estate planning for seniors—get your estate plan in order.” The article shared the stories of two of our women Champs, both of whom married 50th reunion high school friends. Both became widowed after short periods of time.
One’s husband had an estate plan that helped her financially.
The other woman married very quickly in California, before an estate plan had been completed. After her husband died, she didn’t think she was going to inherit anything. I mentioned her situation to Jeffrey Hartmann, who advised me to tell her that she was entitled, under California law, to some assets, even though she wasn’t included in her husband’s Estate or will.
Inspired by Jeffery’s comment, she pursued it. Her effort took two years, but she received a nice sum of money.
To read that August 30th eNewsletter:
One other Estate planning item: If your legal ducks are in order, think of how much easier your executor’s or trustee’s jobs will be. Don’t put the burden to straighten things out on their shoulders, that’s selfish. Take care of it beforehand; that’s the best inheritance gift you can give. Often the executors and trustees are family members.
Bottom line: If you meet someone this weekend, and decide to elope to Las Vegas, get the Estate Plan taken care of on Monday or Tuesday, if you’re still married. I guess we all should be so lucky, eh?
Part 2 – In February of this year, I did an interview on a local Orange County TV Channel Show called Good Day Orange County. I didn’t realize they posted the interview on You Tube until this week. If you’d like to be bored for 13 minutes, here is the link to me dispensing advice to seniors. Tom Blake video Good Day Orange County link is below: