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Life Organizer Personal Situations

Wills, Trusts & Gifts

Family & Beneficiaries

Health-care Choices

Property, Investments & Retirement Accounts

Final Wishes

Business Ownership & Life Insurance

Resources & Advisors

The Essential Record Keeper & Estate Planner Nancy Randolph Greenway


Life Organizer Follow the general guidelines in each section of the Life Organizer to organize your thoughts, documents, and plans. Complete the Life Organizer to determine your priorities, keep track of your property records and important documents on fill-in pages provided, develop practical options, and make your estate plan. Store the Life Organizer in a fireproof location and share access with a trusted family member or associate. Review the Life Organizer and update it annually. It’s a work in progress. Reevaluate your plans every five to seven years and whenever things change, as they inevitably do. Now is the time. This is the place. Organize for life.

This Life Organizer belongs to:


Personal Situations

Personal Situations My personal situation is unique. How do I determine what’s most important? Every personal and financial situation is different, each with unique needs to be addressed—and every life plan must be organized to meet those needs. Whether single, married, divorced, widowed, parents, unmarried partners, elderly, infirm; with children, dependents or special needs; with a family business, vacation property, debt or tax liability ‌ each situation and every property presents its own responsibilities, challenges, and questions. For example, parents of minor children must consider a guardian; the elderly will want to ensure their long-term care; and the wealthy want tax savings. Getting organized will help sort it out. With a general understanding of your personal situation, find what applies to you in the following sections. Make notes of your ideas and questions. Some sections include charts to keep track of contacts, resources, records and documents, and to help evaluate your financial positions. When things change, add materials and revisit the charts to keep your life organized.


Personal Situations


Personal Situations “Carry an umbrella in case of rain and the sun is sure to shine.”

— Anonymous

We organize and plan our lives to protect ourselves and those we love, to preserve what we own, and, perhaps most important, to keep the peace—peace of mind and peace among those around us. Getting organized helps keep track of the details of everyday life, but also helps us gain perspective and remember what’s truly important. Identify the people you want to provide for and interests you want to protect. Organize your property records, financial assets, and obligations to reach a solid understanding of what you own and how you want your interests to be handled in the future—and what will happen if the unexpected happens. An honest review of responsibilities and concerns is the first step in addressing your personal situation. Think about what you and your family will want and need for the rest of your life—for the rest of their lives—whether “family” includes your spouse, partner, parents, children, stepchildren, business partners, those close to you with special needs, or your favorite cause. The list may be long. Make note of each and every person and entity involved. Key questions will quickly come to mind. Will I have enough to provide for myself for the rest of my life, to take care of my family, to get my kids through school, to finally take that trip, to take care of my folks? No need to be gloomy, but consider the inevitable “What if?” In organizing your life, you will locate loose ends, find prospects you might have overlooked, and may discover unintended consequences related to your personal situation. To begin, contemplate who and what are important in your life. In later sections, you will find charts to help organize your important records and documents, evaluate debts and business obligations to gain a better understanding of your financial prospects, and consider long-term health-care plans. Your priorities will become clear.

Definitions Appointment: naming an individual to a position of legal responsibility in a will, trust, or other legal document. Appointments carry a fiduciary responsibility. Executor: a person appointed in a will and legally responsible for administering an estate, that is to register a will with the probate court, conduct the affairs of the estate, make distributions, pay required taxes and conclude the business of and close the estate with permission of the court. An executor, sometimes called a personal representative, could be a lawyer, family member, trusted associate, or combination. If appointed by a court, generally called an estate administrator. Trustee: a person appointed and legally responsible for administering a trust according to the terms of the legal document creating the trust.

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Pre-nuptial or antenuptial agreement: a legal contract between two persons before marriage, generally establishing financial rights and obligations. A “prenup” supersedes a will and rights of inheritance.

Spouses and Partners

Post-nuptial agreement: a legal contract similar to the prenup but made after marriage, generally when financial circumstances of one party have changed substantially.

financial obligations in pre-nuptial or post-nuptial agreements.

Power of attorney (POA): a document giving a person legal authority to act on behalf of another person. POA may by withdrawn at any time, and ends at death.

owning real estate, by forming a limited liability company for joint ownership, and by ex-

Alimony: financial obligation of one former spouse to the other usually by divorce decree; court-ordered and enforced. Child support: financial obligation of a parent for the benefit of a minor or dependent child, usually court-ordered and enforced in separation or divorce decree. Guardian: a person with legal responsibility for the care and well-being of a minor child or an incompetent adult. For a child, a guardian is appointed under a will or by a court; for an adult, by a court upon proof of legal incompetence. Custodian: a person with legal responsibility for property owned by a minor.

Between spouses, generally speaking, what’s mine is yours. Married couples have big advantages over singles under tax law. Any gift or transfer from one to the other at any time is free of gift and estate taxes; and if a husband or wife makes no will or provision for the surviving spouse, state law generally does so. Whether married for the first, second, or umpteenth time, and particularly where wealth is unequal, spouses often choose to define

Unmarried, committed partners whose rights and responsibilities are not clearly established by the law can use legal tools to formalize mutual rights. They can, among other options, establish mutual legal and financial obligations by making wills or trusts, by jointly changing powers of attorney. Though transfers between partners are usually not excluded from gift and estate tax as they are between married partners, careful planning can provide many comparable protections. Partners should also consider mutual health care powers of attorney (POA) so that the partner will have the authority to make medical-care decisions in case of emergency. Without a health care POA, a legal relative rather than an unmarried partner generally has such authority.

Singles Singles, young and old, naturally want to look out for number one, but may also face obligations such as alimony or child support and concerns for parents and siblings, close friends, nieces and nephews, or the support of educational and charitable organizations. Young singles will benefit from learning the basics of planning to help them get organized and stay organized—a lasting advantage. Without the tax deductions available to families, singles will learn that financial planning is key.

Children Parents of minor children (younger than 18 years) will want to make wills, if for no other reason than to appoint a guardian and custodian to look after the children, just in case. A guardian takes personal care of a child and a custodian manages property or assets in the name of a minor child. Remember that if something should happen to parents who have not made these essential appointments, the courts will make appointments for them. Property owned in the name of a minor child—Grandpa’s birthday gift of a bond or stock, or inherited funds or property, for example—must be held by an adult as custodian or trustee, even when the parents are alive. Parents typically establish a custodianship or trust appointing one of them as custodian with the legal obligation to preserve the related property for the exclusive benefit of the minor until age 18, when the child takes official ownership. Banks and brokers can assist with necessary forms when opening a custodial account, however creating a trust requires legal advice.

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Provisions for stepchildren, children with particular needs, children not yet born into a marriage, and children of unmarried partners must be clearly established under a will or they may not be protected as intended or hoped. In legal terms, natural and legally adopted children are considered the “issue” of a marriage, and as such have the legal right to inherit from their parents, grandparents, etc. Stepparents are therefore required to express their intentions and specifically name their stepchildren as beneficiaries or they will be left out. In some cases, adopted children are similarly excluded from inheriting unless specifically named in a will. Parents expecting more children after their wills are written may choose to use the term “issue” rather than naming children or may expressly include “afterborn” children and thus avoid having to rewrite the wills each time a new child is born.

Protecting your children. Appoint a guardian and custodian for your child for the right reasons. The best guardian is not necessarily your best friend or faraway sister. Appoint an individual guardian—rather than a couple as joint guardians—to preclude problems for the child due to disagreement or divorce in the future. And the most loving guardian might not be the smartest financial custodian. Choose each wisely. Be sure to ask those you intend to appoint whether they are willing and able to accept the responsibility. In this case, the best surprise is no surprise.

Children and adults with special needs, or a particular group, like grandchildren, might be best provided for through a trust. Education expenses and student loan obligations might also affect plans for both child and parent. A trust is well known as a tax-planning tool for the wealthy but may also be used to provide for a particular need such as education, medical care for a particular individual, financial support for a person unable to manage routine responsibilities, or charitable contributions.

Seniors Seniors, the elderly, and family members with special needs inevitably have concerns about their long-term income and health care. Adult children and relatives also wonder if they will be expected to step in to care for elderly parents or relatives when the need arises. In any case, a thoughtful two-generation family discussion to review health-care needs and expectations, insurance coverage, and financial resources is entirely in order.

Taking care. An elderly husband and wife, both somewhat impaired either mentally or physically but still living at home, present multiple concerns for their families and neighbors. Can they properly care for themselves and each other? Is in-home care needed? Is their home safe for them? Do they have sufficient income to live as they or their family would like? Do they have adequate health care, long-term care, and/or life insurance? How do Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid affect their situation?

The elderly and infirm have a tendency to cling to their independence (and driver’s licenses!) as long as possible and are often reluctant to share information about their resources out of both privacy and the enduring human effort to remain in control of their lives. Be wise and thoughtful. A kind approach to asking those hard questions will often relieve pressure on both sides of this delicate situation…but it may not. It’s always worth a try.

Preserving wealth With a federal estate tax rate close to 50 percent and subject to change, families of wealth and families owning businesses should make plans to minimize taxes. An individual is traditionally entitled to a gift exemption and estate tax credit; therefore, if all your property is worth less than the value of the exemption and tax credit, your estate will not be subject

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Agent: a person legally appointed to act on behalf of another in life. A person with a power of attorney is the agent of the person making the appointment. Fiduciary responsibility: the legal duty of an appointee who manages property and assets—such as a custodian, trustee, banker, or a person holding POA—to perform assigned responsibilities at the highest level. A “fiduciary” is legally liable if assets are unreasonably diminished.

to tax. If you own or make lifetime gifts of more than those amounts, you will want to take advantage of tax-planning techniques with the help of a financial expert. If you own and operate a family business, consider your property value, balance sheet and interested family members carefully in determining whether your business might be affected or even ruined by family divisions or estate tax. Family businesses too often fail before transfer to the next generation due to poor planning.

Checklist Single

Successor: a person named to succeed an appointed person unable or unwilling to fulfill the assigned responsibilities. Always appoint successors.

Senior Married Unmarried partners Minor children Adopted children Stepchildren Special needs Family financial obligations _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Important Documents Keep track of documents such as alimony and child-support directives, custodianship forms, or prenup agreements. Blank fill-in pages are provided in the back of this organizer. Keep the original or a copy of each document in a plastic sleeve, also provided in the back, and attach to this section; if a copy, note the location of its original.

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Important Documents Wills of James Parker, brother, and his wife Catherine Document description

Date

James’s attorney, Margaret Mitchell Location of original Location contact 3 Copy attached

1988

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved

James Parker Tel 682 5259 E-mail jjp@jamesparker.com

Margaret Mitchell Tel 684 2700 E-mail mmm@rhettbutlerllc.com Address 1865 Tara Blvd, Riverton

Name

Name

Address Relationship

brother

Relationship

Replaces 1970 will. Under their separate wills, if Notes James and Cathy both die, each appoints me (Will) guardian and custodian for Jim and Katie until they come of age.

PL

E

Notes

Document description

Date

Location of original Location contact Copy attached Person(s) involved

M

Name Tel

SA

E-mail Address

Other copies / Location

Name Tel

E-mail Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Document description

Date

Location of original Location contact Copy attached

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved Name

Name

Tel

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

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Notes

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Family & Beneficiaries

Family & Beneficiaries Who needs a plan? Everyone who wants to protect those who matter most—you know who they are—and anyone who would like to safeguard property and financial interests needs an estate plan.

What is an estate plan? “Estate plan” is a broad term that refers specifically to an individual’s plan for transfer of assets at death but generally to an individual’s or family’s plans for ongoing management of property and assets for maximum benefit and minimum loss. A basic plan involves recognizing personal needs, understanding the type and value of your property and investments, using effective financial and tax practices, and preparing for the future. An estate plan typically involves a will and other legal documents, and sometimes financial safeguards such as trusts, insurance policies, retirement plans, and planned giving.


Family & Beneficiaries


Family & Beneficiaries “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

— Benjamin Franklin

Who to Call First: Key Contacts List reliable, trusted family members, associates, family lawyers, and other professionals to call when urgent need arises. Be sure to include those with key roles in your life and estate plan—i.e., adult children, parents, executor, trustee, guardian, banker. Name

Phone / e-mail

Relationship

Family considerations are the primary reason most people plan their estates. Developing an estate plan is an emotional adventure at every stage and every age. Families can be fragile, whether traditional, modern, or simply extraordinary—and most are extraordinary in one way or another. If you’re already organized, more power to you, and remember to review your plans from time to time. If not, get organized, be prepared, have the necessary talks with those who matter to you, and make a plan—your personal plan—for the good of all.

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Heir: person with legal right to inherit under state law; descendent.

States’ Rights

Issue: natural-born and legally adopted children.

make a will, the state will distribute your property according to state law. If you do make

Beneficiary: recipient of a benefit, bequest or legacy under a will, trust, retirement plan, insurance policy, trust or other legal entity; legatee.

State law defines certain family members as heirs and determines their rights of inheritance: spouses and children may be treated differently in different states. If you do not a will or use other methods to plan your life and your estate, you make those determinations yourself. A court of law (a “probate court,” usually a county court) will enforce the instructions expressed in your will. Beyond your will, you may also name beneficiaries to establish future rights of ownership and inheritance through retirement plans, trusts, business partnerships, pre-nuptial agreements, or other planning options.

Appointments Are Important Appointments made under a will should be smart and practical, and made only for the right reasons. Consider trusted family members, advisors, or associates. Resist emotional pressure in making appointments. Do not choose your oldest son because he thinks he should be executor, or all your children to avoid hard feelings among them. Choose responsible, reliable individuals you are certain you can count on. And just in case they are not able to serve when the time comes, name the next best as successors. When listing a person as a reliable contact or making an appointment under your will— naming an executor or guardian, for example—be sure to ask that person before making it official. And do keep that person informed of any changes made later.

Fair and square?

Mom wants Jack and Jill to have equal shares of her property and wrote her will to ensure it. But years ago when she opened her IRA account with a broker, she named Jack as beneficiary because he had given her a ride that day and she was a bit confused by the whole process. No one thought anything of it, and no one has thought of it since. But the IRA has doubled in value and is now Mom’s most valuable asset—more valuable than the cottage at the bottom of the hill where Jack broke his crown! And when Mom is no longer with them, Jack will get the entire IRA plus a share of the cottage equal to Jill’s. At least he’ll have to pay income taxes on the IRA…but it’s not what Mom intended. Check your documents to ensure your intentions will be honored.

Contact Information Keep a current list of who is important to you—family members and your intended and already named beneficiaries—and to whom you are responsible or obligated. Include those involved in your business(es), named in your retirement and insurance plans, on your bank account(s), etc. Make notes regarding specific gifts you might consider in distributing your estate and any personal loans. Some priorities will reveal themselves as you go. List professional contacts and resources in the Resources & Advisors section.

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Contact Information Bill Parker Jr. Name

son, executor wap@pmail.com

Relationship / Position

682 0390 Tel E-mail 1021 Rose Road, Riverton has copy of will, knows other locations

Address Notes

PL

E

Delta Seed partner/ insurance beneficiary Casey Morgan Name Relationship / Position 303 925 1244 c.morgan@deltaseeds.com Tel E-mail Address 25 Ridge Way, Deltaville, MS 12345 Notes per partnership agreement Casey to use my insurance to buy out Sarah who gets my interest upon my death

Name

Relationship / Position

Address

SA

Notes

M

Tel E-mail

Name

Relationship / Position

Tel E-mail Address Notes

Name

Relationship / Position

Tel E-mail Address Notes

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“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.”

— Michael J. Fox

The Family Meeting Perhaps the most important element in developing your plan is the family discussion. Rather than getting everyone involved together to start, you may prefer to meet family members one-on-one until you reach a certain understanding, particularly if you are uncomfortable at the prospect of a big meeting. You may feel you want to skip the whole thing, but try to do what’s best and take the high road. Plan the time, place, or telephone date for your meeting, set your agenda by Share your wisdom. Money doesn’t grow on trees. Family discussion is a good way to begin teaching younger members about the value of a dollar, and the relationship between hard work and hard cash. Start early. Guide children toward careers, help them gain perspective, show them how to stay organized, and walk the walk…with privilege comes responsibility.

writing down the questions and concerns you intend to review, and address the topics methodically and as unemotionally as possible. Keep a journal of your discussions, with notes on pertinent topics. In your talks, there is no need to be domineering, because this is a fact-finding mission (Would you be willing to serve as guardian? Are you interested in participating in the family business? What family keepsakes are important to you? What should we do with the house?). There is no need to be defensive, because it is, in the end, your decision about how to make your plan. It is doubtful you will please everyone. But listen well. Focus on the matter at hand, schedule follow-up meetings as needed and then get back to your making your plan.

Plan your vacation…home. In almost every case, nothing comes out even in a family vacation home shared by a second generation unless the family makes a plan. To preserve the cabin, condo, or beach house for future generations and keep the peace, families will want to consider forming a family corporation or a Limited Liability Company (LLC). It requires agreement and legal expenses at the outset, of course, but will prevent disasters down the road.

If you are making far-reaching decisions, it is best to let those involved know what you’re doing, or have done…left the flower child nothing (doesn’t deserve it), and the brain surgeon nothing (doesn’t need it), and everything goes to the princess (sigh). Or left it all to the library to fund future book purchases. Make your family discussions productive. Ask the hard questions. Ask one son how he’ll pay his share at the family hunting camp that he so badly wants to co-own with his brother. And, though you may be tempted to ask how he will keep his wife from removing Uncle Teddy’s beloved trophy animals—you might be upset if she takes down the moose head—does it really matter? Focus on what really matters.

Be advised, experienced estate planners suggest the best way to keep the peace is to keep distributions equal.

Family Discussion Journal Keep a record of family meetings. Notes made on separate papers may be placed in plastic sleeves and attached to this section.

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Family Discussion Journal Who

Sarah, Bill Jr., Jill

When

Dec. 28, 2009

What was discussed

changing will, marital trust, annual gifts, long-term care

Notes

Who When

SA

M

PL

E

– call attorney Tom Jones re new will for Sarah and Will, add legacy of Sarah’s ring to Helen – start annual gifts to kids and grandkids – donate UW Foundation (ask Tom about charitable trust) – Sarah and I to look at resident care for long term, Lakeview

What was discussed

Notes

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Notes

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How can I make sure my real estate, investment accounts, retirement plan(s), and personal property are part of my plan? Set aside some time, understand your personal objectives, and, yes, deal with those documents. It’s a matter of getting organized—not always a simple proposition. Locate and organize property titles, financial statements—assets and debts—any legal obligations, and previous estate-planning documents. With a chart of property, investment assets, and documents, your financial, legal, and emotional considerations will become more clear and you will be well prepared to assess your situation and seek professional counsel as needed to complete your plan.

Property, Investments & Retirement Accounts

Property, Investments & Retirement Accounts


Property, Investments & Retirement Accounts


Property, Investments & Retirement Accounts “Before you speak, listen. Before you write, think. Before you spend, earn. Before you invest, investigate. Before you criticize, wait. Before you pray, forgive. Before you quit, try. Before you retire, save. Before you die, give.”

— William A. Ward

Royal snafu!

Ernest was an angst-ridden writer who ran away from the farm to the city, where he found himself—and also found his soul mate, Coco. They lived together, he wrote books on her computer—they lived for today and did not worry about tomorrow. His father and brother out on the farm did not approve and cut off all communication. Over the next twelve years, a few of Ernest’s manuscripts were sold to publishers, but the books did not sell particularly well, until one was made into a movie and royalties started to pour in. Sadly, Ernest did not live to enjoy his success. And he died without a will. In from the country came Ernest’s long-lost father and brother to claim the estate as lawful heirs. Coco cared only about keeping her home and personal belongings, including the computer with a completed book and three incomplete manuscripts. She was able to buy the apartment from Ernest’s father, but a legal battle has ensued over rights to the material on Coco’s computer. Who owns what? The probate court will decide. And a lot of the royalties will be spent in the process. Moral to the story? Get organized. Make a plan.

In this section, start getting organized by reviewing your real estate and financial assets, such as personal bank, investment, and retirement accounts, including IRAs, as well as personal belongings such as car(s), jewelry, antiques, etc., that make up your “estate.” Property and investments are broad terms. Everything you own— every property and investment—is part of your “estate,” and the way in which you own

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it—the way the title or account-opening papers read—may affect not only how you benefit from the property now, but also how it might be transferred in the future. Everyone has a stack or drawer—or possibly neatly organized files in a fireproof safe(!)— filled with important documents, receipts, and statements. Sort through those files and loose paperwork to determine what’s important and what’s not. Shred and throw away anything not essential. Chart everything you retain in the fill-in pages provided to keep track and stay organized going forward . What exactly do I need to know about the things I own? Understanding your rights of ownership is crucial. Outright ownership by an individual is straightforward. However, ownership by more than one—for example, joint ownership of a family home or investment account—involves mutual rights among owners, possibly husband and wife, partners, friends, siblings, or multiple individuals, and these rights of ownership may be less clear. Fractional ownership of real estate or a Take your time. Organizing documents is not always a simple process. For those with numerous interests and concerns, it can be a big job and could take days or even weeks. Take it an hour or two—or an afternoon—at a time. It’s like preparing a tax return—finishing the job is its own reward!

business affects its value for gift and estate-tax purposes. Some property, such as jointly owned real estate or a bank account, may be titled so that it passes directly to another owner under a mutual “right of survivorship” or “pay on death” provision should one owner die. These transfers take place rather simply and are not affected by a will. Property like your home may be passed along to your joint owner but still, except between spouses, be taxable as part of your estate. Other property, like your IRA, will be passed along to your named beneficiaries and they will be liable, in their current in-

come tax brackets, for the income taxes deferred while you were alive. The IRS is everpresent. Understanding the consequences of your ownership rights is critical in making plans for the future. Organize ownership records first; consider tax consequences after your records are complete when you can take a good look at the prospects for your plan. Which documents are essential?

Can’t find your documents? Need current records? Real property titles are part of the public record and copies are available from the county registrar or public records office usually upon written request and for a small fee. Your bank, financial institution, or employer when you opened your retirement account will have the respective records on file. Ask for copies to keep in your Life Organizer, and ask your employer for a roster of current employee benefits.

Original documents such as deeds, titles, and any account and policy forms you have signed are essential: for example, papers signed when you opened your bank or brokerage account or enrolled in employee benefits when starting a new job. Locate your key documents, chart them here, place the originals in a sleeve attached to this section or secure them elsewhere, and note their location on the chart. Bank and financial account statements are usually available online; therefore, keeping monthly paper statements is no longer essential. Remember to keep track of debts—like a mortgage, auto loan, credit-card debt, or student loan—to figure the net worth of what you own. Even if you receive your financial statements online, chart the accounts here; print and attach year-end statements to this section or in a separate file, and chart their location to make a complete record that will help you stay organized going forward.

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How long should I keep financial records? IRS rules are somewhat obscure on this, but the rule of thumb has long been to keep tax returns and records for at least seven years. Follow conventional wisdom regarding other records. Keep for the life of the accounts any year-end investment and financial statements, insurance policy and premium records, and employment and payment records proving retirement plan contributions and distributions. Keep indefinitely any real-estate records and legal orders and documents such as for divorce, child support, bankruptcy, etc.; important receipts and records establishing value of a gift (for example, signed documents and proof of payment for a mortgage or other loan); estate documents regarding inheritance and the value of major gifts; and, of course, your will, POA, and other estate-planning documents. What’s the best way to keep my important documents safe and personal information secure? A fireproof location is best. Use a locked file drawer or safe at home, a safe deposit box at the bank, or the vault at your attorney’s office. Note the location on the fill-in pages. Keep personal ID and account numbers private and provide them only when security is assured. Records that are online, at “secure” online storage sites, or on your own computer’s hard drive should be periodically copied to a flash drive or CD for security. Back up everything, and check for software updates at least semi-annually to avoid losing access to electronic records. Make sure your key people know where things are and have access.

Real Estate and Property Titles Deeds and titles are important documents because they establish ownership, of course. In these documents you can find exactly what is owned and in whose name(s), and possibly determine who is a future beneficiary. A property deed is registered in the coun-

Real estate, real property: land, with or without “improvements,” or a partial or fractional ownership share in real estate, such as a condominium. Real property improvements: buildings, such as home and garage, or structures like bridges, warehouses, swimming pools, etc. Mortgage: a loan secured by real estate; for example, a person or company (mortgagee) borrows funds from a bank or other lender (mortgagor) to purchase property and in return agrees to repay the bank the amount borrowed with interest within a given period of time. Mortgage terms vary; ultimately, if the borrower fails to repay, the bank can foreclose and take ownership of the property. Joint tenancy with right of survivorship: title to jointly owned property with mutual rights under which surviving owner(s) assume title. Tenancy-by-theentirety is an older form of joint title between spouses, also with right of survivorship. Tenants-in-common: title to jointly owned property in which each owner holds a separate share and may sell, mortgage, or transfer it independent of the other owners, and each owner has equal rights of use and access to the property. Plat: a public record including a map of a specific plot of real property or land and its legal description.

ty where a property is located, giving the named owner legal title. Most real estate is transferred by a warranty deed broadly guaranteeing ownership and the right to sell the property. Similarly, auto title is registered with the state, and title is transferred by registration of a new owner. Mortgage and loan documents are also essential records. A mortgagor holds a registered Deed of Trust representing a claim against the property. A lease agreement, whether for home or auto, conveys possession rather than ownership; nevertheless, it is an important document because it defines a financial obligation. Keep track of notices from your landlord or lessor that affect your rights or obligations.

Family properties. Families that own businesses or properties together—like the cottage or the farm—should pay special attention to title form and what it means. Secondgeneration family businesses often fail simply because their continuance is not well planned.

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Investment and Retirement Accounts Ownership and future transfer rights regarding investment and retirement accounts are established in the paperwork signed when these accounts are opened. Usually consisting of stocks and bonds, investment accounts are typically managed personally by the owner/ investor or by an investment advisor or fund manager through a bank, stockbroker, mutual fund, or investment service. New job? New account? Read the fine print. When starting a new job, changing jobs, or opening a new account (lots of paperwork!), everyone has the option of choosing how a retirement plan or pension—even your checking account—can be passed along. You will have an option to choose a beneficiary right there. Read everything you sign. Make choices carefully. Keep copies of the original forms you sign.

Private retirement plans like an IRA or 401(k) are often an individual’s primary or only investment account and therefore may be critical to an estate plan. In general terms, these private plans are “qualified” under the terms of certain sections of the Internal Revenue Code that allow an individual to defer income until later in life and thereby achieve certain tax advantages. The idea is that when you defer income and receive it later in life, you usually expect to be in a lower income-tax bracket than in peak earning years and therefore will save on taxes, but there are many possible options and outcomes. Each plan has distinct tax implications, good and not as good; each limits, in terms of dollar amount, the contributions that can be made to an account and stipulates mandatory withdrawals at certain times. Funds remaining in the account at the

death of the individual owner are passed along to beneficiaries specified on the account and may carry tax implications. If it makes sense, changing the beneficiary to a charitable organization could prevent unanticipated income tax and provide an estate a charitable deduction. Potential taxes and penalties require careful study, but the advantages of these plans have made them very popular. Retirement plans known as pensions similarly provide later-in-life income under programs that work more like insurance—pay some now, get more later. In a pension plan, an employer, organization, government, or union regularly transfers a designated portion of an employee’s income to a fund that will pay the employee, upon retirement, a fixed amount annually—an annuity—for life. Individual employees are not involved in investment decisions for their pensions; a pension annuity is payable to the retired employee only for his life, is taxable as ordinary income and carries no further benefits to the family or heirs of the retiree. Remember all that paperwork? Beneficiaries named on long-standing accounts may have been forgotten over the years, but the name(s) appear on the original account documents. Couples or partners who open accounts together usually have mutual rights of ownership—i.e., one’s right to the account if something happens to the other—but it’s a good idea to double-check this. What if you started your IRA before you married and named your brother (who now lives…where?) as beneficiary? Take a look at your records, review your priorities, and make necessary changes.

Retirement Plans The following “qualified” retirement plans are subject to specifications, tax, and reporting requirements under the Internal Revenue Code. State and local income taxes, sometimes at equal rates, might also apply. Assets contributed to retirement plans are typically invested in stocks, bonds, and money management/mutual funds to grow and increase the ultimate income benefit to the retiree. Individual Retirement Account (IRA): a private deferred-income retirement program to which an individual participant or his or her employer may annually contribute a specified amount of the participant’s income to an investment account without paying income tax on it that year. The individual later makes “withdrawals” in amounts based on life expectancy beginning between ages

16


59½ and 70½; these withdrawals are subject to income tax but not to capital gains tax even if the account assets increase in value between contribution and withdrawal. Excess contributions and early withdrawals may incur income tax and penalties. IRA terms vary depending on who makes contributions and manages the account. 401(k): a private deferred-income retirement program to which an employer contributes individual employee salary deductions in specified amounts to the respective employee account. Investments may be managed by the employer/trustee or by the employee/participant. Contribution, management, and withdrawal terms are otherwise similar to an IRA. 401(k) terms vary depending on who makes contributions and manages the account. Roth IRA or 401(k): The IRA and 401(k) are different, but both may be created as “Roths.” Named for the legislator who proposed them, a “Roth” allows income taxes to be paid on the income amounts when contributed to the retirement account and subsequently allows funds, including any capital gains, to be withdrawn free of tax after a minimum specified period (five years at time of publication). Roth roll-over: an IRA or 401(k) that is converted or “rolled over” into a Roth account, with payment of income taxes due on contributed amounts. The Roth has the distinct advantage of allowing invested funds to grow without additional tax when withdrawn. Under recent revisions, tax payments may be spread out over the years following a conversion, and previous rollover limitations based on income level have been lifted. In some cases, conversion to a Roth may not be beneficial. Seek professional financial or tax planning advice.

Personal Property Other property records may be a matter of receipts, appraisals, employment records, monthly statements—even a listing of heirlooms, keepsakes of sentimental value, and items with a family history. An engagement ring, Aunt Ruth’s silver flatware, the antique wooden boat (…needs work). Items of particular value may have been appraised for insurance purposes, or appraised as part of a previous estate. Save any records that prove or indicate the value of an item, and make notes on the family history and stories that give meaning to the truly personal pieces. Create your own comprehensive property records by completing the charts on the fill-in pages.

Make it crystal clear. When you plan to give a particular item to a particular person—Uncle Albert’s portrait will go to Little Al— make a note of it, and also attach a note to the item itself. And tell Little Al and his siblings what you’ve decided; it precludes disagreements later on.

Make a video record. For a complete visual inventory, make a video or photograph your household belongings and collections room by room. Antiques and personal collections may already be appraised for insurance purposes. Previous estate valuations may be helpful in valuing inherited items.

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Owner Checklist Real estate and mortgages Bank accounts Loans Investment accounts Autos, boats, and other vehicles Household furnishings of particular value, such as artwork, furniture, collections of larger items, etc. Personal items of particular value, such as jewelry, musical instruments, small collectibles, books, etc. Credit card debt _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Property Records Chart your property and assets on the fill-in pages. Check their original cost and current value. Titles to major properties like homes, vacation condos, and farmland are important. Find out how each is titled (it will say right on the title) and how it fits into your plan. We all make mistakes. Use a pencil with an eraser when entering facts and figures in the fill-in charts.

Keep original, signed account documents attached to this section or chart their location. Attach year-end account statements here or keep them in a secure file and note the location of the file.

If you attach records or statements to the binder rings, add and label your own loose-leaf dividers to keep your work in order and find it easily next time.

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Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

home, 710 E. Hampton, Riverton

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Warranty Deed, joint tenancy Wm A and Sarah P Parker; 1992/100,000 Deed of Trust held by First Bank 573/month 2007/250,000 Record / Account # mortgage insurance appraisal Location of original WD and plat in safe, Deed of Trust at First Bank 573/month 2010/200,000 mortgage insurance appraisal 3 Copy attached Other copies copies of appraisals for 3 Related documents attached mortgage/insurance Document

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

80,000

20,000

29,500

220,500

13,400

186,600

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Valuation / Appraisal attached

3 Plat attached copy

E

Photo / video record attached

3 Insured?

Homesafe policy PZ19411234 maintenance, improvement, cost records in Homekeeper binder

M

Notes

PL

Insurance info

diamond ring, Sarah’s engagement ring

SA

Description Document

Date / Cost

1974/3,500

Date / Current Value

2007/12,000

insurance appraisal

Record / Account #

Location of original

Copy attached Other copies Related documents attached

3 Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached

3 Insured?

Homesafe policy schedule/appraisal Sarah wants granddaughter Helen to have it

Insurance info Notes

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Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc.

Jill’s Visa/furniture for apartment Wm Parker co-signator on card Document credit card statement Record / Account # 1234 567 890 1011 Location of original in Visa file/file drawer Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Dec. 2009/ 4,000

4,000 @ 8%

Dec. 2010

1,800 @ 8%

Net / Equity

Copy attached Other copies Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached

E

Photo / video record attached Insured?

Jill plans to keep paying off at 200/month

SA

M

Notes

PL

Insurance info

Description Document

Record / Account #

Location of original

Copy attached Other copies Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

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Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity


How do family business interests and life insurance fit into a plan? Each type of business, from sole proprietor to corporation, provides certain protections and liabilities—tax and otherwise—important to a life plan and deserves careful consideration. Life insurance can provide a safety net for your family and business estate.

Business Ownership & Life Insurance

Business Ownership & Life Insurance


Business Ownership & Life Insurance


Business Ownership & Life Insurance “Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”

— Warren Buffett

Many individuals and families have closely held business interests that affect them every day of their lives and their families into the future. Family businesses come in all shapes and sizes. Whether the old farm, a new venture, an online start-up or an ongoing enterprise, a closely held business may provide essential income, carry burdensome debt, or be a labor of love. Whatever it is, use this section and the fill-in charts to evaluate benefits against risks, and examine any plans for continuing or dissolving the business if things change. Seek professional counsel if necessary. If a business represents a major family asset, be sure to review tax and insurance options for protecting and preserving all your interests, business and otherwise.

Business interests A closely held business is a business enterprise owned and operated privately, often by an individual, family members, or close business associates or friends. By contrast, a public corporation offers ownership shares to the public.

Pass it on. Continuation of a family business may depend on guiding a key person in the next generation to a job or degree in a field outside of the business—one that will afford the skills and experience necessary to take over. Use family discussions to prepare the whole family for the continuation plan.

Ownership in a closely held corporation may be an integral or principal asset and critical to an individual estate plan. Chart closely held corporate assets and liabilities on the fill-in pages. If you are involved in a closely held business, talk with your family or associates about how they envision your business in the future. Does Mary Lu want to take it over? Would that be fair to the boys? Could they make the chocolates as well as she does? Just 30 percent of family businesses make it into a second generation. Plan well and plan now for the continuation of your family-owned business, particularly if it is your most valuable family asset. How does a business “continue”? A sole proprietor, or single business owner, usually is the business—no one else can write cookbooks like she does!—and the business, its value, holdings, and equipment, will be

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Sole proprietor: an individual who owns, manages, is responsible for, and is liable for a business. A business or trade name usually must be registered in the city of operation and tax reporting may be required. Many a business begins this way.

passed along as part of his or her estate. Without a plan, whether a sole propietorship will

Partnership: a business owned by two or more people, usually by written agreement formalizing ownership, operational and management rights, responsibilities and liabilities. A partnership can take the form of a general, limited, or limited liability partnership; plans for continuation and dissolution are typically included in the partnership agreement.

leaves, or agree in advance to division of the assets if the partnership dissolves. Like a

Limited liability company (LLC): a business entity formed by contract among owners in which income flows through the business directly to owners, as in a partnership, but the owners’ personal liability is generally limited, as in a corporation.

Buddy was a widower who had a little engineering business he’d built by himself from the ground up. He built bridges and he loved his work—had all the equipment and twenty employees. His son Bill joined the business after college. Ten years later, when father and son had doubled the size of the company, Buddy was ready to retire. He wanted Bill to have the business and felt he deserved it after their success. “Not fair!” objected his sisters. “This is our family business—our business, not his.” Fireworks in the family! But Buddy knew what was best for business, and he figured out a way to make his plan work. He got organized, sought professional advice, and put his plan into action. He reorganized his business as a limited liability company that he and the whole family continued to own, with himself as silent partner and son Bill in charge at a salary. Buddy also bought a life insurance policy payable to Bill that would, when the time came, provide Bill sufficient funds to buy out the value of the business that his sisters would inherit under Buddy’s will and thus give them their fair share of the estate. Bill continued to run the business without the interference of his sisters, and Buddy lived to a ripe old age in peace. What might have happened? If Buddy had thrown in the towel when the kids disagreed, Bill might not have been able to buy out his sisters, and when Buddy died they would have been forced to sell the business to divide the estate. Or, Buddy’s daughter might have tried to continue to run the business with Bill…tough going for Bill at best and ruinous for all at worst. A family business is often the heart and soul of a family, and should be treated as such.

Corporation: a business entity created by charter from the state with rights and liabilities separate from those of its owners, shareholders, or “members.” By example, a business making faulty widgets that cause damage could affect the value of the business, and therefore the shareholder’s investment, but the shareholder is not personally liable. A Subchapter S corporation is a form often used for a small or closely held business in which a group of business associates, a family, or extended family has primary ownership and control. The income from an S corporation passes through the business directly to the owners, as in an LLC, though the owners are protected from liability by the corporate structure, or “veil.” Larger, public corporations, or C corporations, are taxed on corporate profits, and owner/shareholders are taxed on dividends received, a result sometimes referred to as double taxation. Ownership in a public corporation does not affect an individual estate plan except as a financial interest.

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continue or close—“dissolve”—depends on what the heirs or beneficiaries decide. Other forms of business provide for continuing or closing under certain circumstances. A partnership agreement typically includes buy/sell terms for continuing the business. Remaining or surviving partners usually assume ownership of the share of a partner who partnership, an LLC will continue or dissolve under the terms of the agreement creating it. A corporation has the advantage of operating under bylaws adopted to ensure the continuation of the business even under a change in ownership.

All in the Family

The family camp: Apply family wisdom. Affluent families often use an LLC or corporate structure with defined ownership shares to preserve shared family properties including vacation properties—the old fishing camp, the island off the coast—for future generations. Any wise family can do the same.

Agricultural and farm land. Because traditional family farms have often been forced to sell in order to pay high estate taxes on land values, special tax exclusions are available to qualifying families continuing to farm their land. Establishing the correct agricultural business and ownership structure also offers valuable protection.


Insurance Life insurance is an age-old method of leaving behind “a little something” to protect the family. A person pays regular premiums to an insurance company, usually over a period of years; in return, the company pays out, upon the death of the insured person, a specific sum to beneficiaries named by the insured. The so-called death benefit may be paid out all at once in a lump sum or in smaller regular amounts over a period of years as an annuity. Usually, a person buys life insurance for a particular purpose, but can one person insure another person’s life? Yes, if the other person is a legitimate “insurable interest”—generally a family member, person representing an economic interest, business partner, or valuable corporate employee. For example, banks that carry business loans or home mortgages sometimes require borrowers to take  out life insurance policies on themselves to cover the amounts due. A company, partnership, or individual partners often hold policies on key employees’ or partners’ lives to provide funds adequate to replace a particular talent or purchase a deceased partner’s interest from his family or estate to assure continuation of the business. Family farms that are vulnerable to failure because of high property or estate taxes use life insurance to make sure the farm stays in the family. Wealthy families often use life insurance and life-insurance trusts to replace anticipated estate taxes and keep family properties and assets intact. There are two general types of life insurance: term life and permanent life policies. Term life insurance policies require a periodic premium to be paid in return for a benefit paid upon the death of the insured person. There is no benefit or return on a term policy for which premium payments are stopped before the death of the insured. In such case, premium amounts are forfeited. Permanent life policies, generally at a higher premium, offer myriad options and are used primarily as financial planning tools. Various permanent policies—whole, universal, limitedpay, e.g.—offer various benefits and also incur various estate and income tax liabilities, potentially for both policy owner and beneficiaries. Premiums may be  invested on behalf of the policy owner and investment returns may add to the value of the policy. Some policies may allow amounts to be “borrowed” or withdrawn from the policy value by the policy owner, with interest, or to be completely cashed-in. In such cases the amount of the death benefit is, of course, reduced by the amounts borrowed or withdrawn, and outstanding interest could ultimately be charged to the estate or beneficiaries. Other policies require premium payments for a fixed term of years though benefits are payable only upon the death of the insured, which could be decades later.    The income and estate tax exposure for life insurance varies with each policy. The value of the death benefit of an insurance policy owned by the insured is considered part of his or her estate and if the estate is taxable could be subject to estate tax. Ordinarily, the value of the death benefit received by beneficiaries is not taxable as income. Permanent life insurance policies with their wide variety of possible options—investment returns, withdrawals, interest charges, cashing-in, etc.—can incur an equally wide variety of estate and income tax liabilities.   

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A life insurance policy owned by someone other than the insured (a “third-party policyholder”) is not, however, considered part of the estate of the insured and therefore not subject to estate tax. Thus, to avoid having the value of a life insurance policy count as part of an estate, a person other than the insured, or a trust, can own the life insurance policy on the life of another. For example, Bill could own a policy on the life of his father, William, and William could even give Bill the funds to pay premiums under the annual gift tax exclusion, avoiding gift and estate tax. If William has multiple beneficiaries to consider, he might prefer to create a life-insurance trust to own the policy. Transferring ownership of an existing insurance policy to another person is subject to gift-tax rules and a waiting period. Insurance options and regulations vary from state to state. Seek the advice of tax-planning and/or insurance  professionals regarding life insurance options and their tax effects.    Where estate taxes are not a concern, life insurance may simply provide for payment of current debts and proper burial. Life insurance is a practical estate-planning tool that many should consider.

Checklist Business agreements Business certificates of incorporation Business valuations Business property Farm property Insurance policies Stock certificates _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Important Documents Chart family-owned or closely held business interests and life insurance policies on the fill-in pages and note the location of original documents. Attach periodic valuations and note business continuation plans.

Property Records Chart business contracts and valuation and insurance policy values here or in Section 3 with other investments.

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Important Documents Lease/Deltaland Warehouse Document description safe at the office Location of original 3 Copy attached

Location contact

3 Other copies / Location Casey has one

Date

Casey

September 2006

Person(s) involved

Jimmy Smith Tel 800 987 6543 E-mail jimmy@deltalandwhs.com Address 200 Deltaland Rd, Riverton

Name

Relationship

Relationship

Notes 20 year lease in my name for Delta Seeds. LLC reimburses me annually.

Notes

Name

Tel E-mail

PL

E

Address

Document description Location of original Copy attached Person(s) involved Tel Address

SA

E-mail

Location contact

Other copies / Location

M

Name

Name Tel

E-mail Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Document description Location of original Copy attached

Date

Date

Location contact

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved Name

Name

Tel

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

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Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Delta Seeds LLC

Date / Cost

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

see valuation statement attached

LLC agreement

Document

Date / Current Value

Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

office safe Other copies

Related documents attached

3 Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached

E

Photo / video record attached

3 Insured?

Lifesafe policy NG19471234N insurance benefits to Casey — he’ll buy out my share from Sarah upon my death

SA

M

Notes

PL

Insurance info

Description Document

Record / Account #

Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

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Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity


Wills, Trusts & Gifts What’s so important about a will? With a will, a person chooses how things will be distributed after he or she dies. Without a will, state laws of inheritance determine heirs and an estate is divided accordingly. Spouses and children generally have first rights, as most intend anyway, followed by blood relatives in succession.

A trust may be created during a lifetime or under a will to serve a particular purpose—support, special needs, education, charity, or preservation of wealth. Trusts bypass the probate process required for a will and can avoid or reduce estate tax.

What difference does a gift make to a plan? Planned giving generates tax advantages. Some gifts are excluded from tax, others are tax deductible. Understanding the rules—yes, there are rules about gifts—adds to the joy of giving.

Wills, Trusts & Gifts

What purpose does a trust serve?


Wills, Trusts & Gifts


Wills, Trusts & Gifts “Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what there is.”

— Ernest Hemingway

Property has always been “passed along” or “handed down” according to law. Current laws reflect both the old customs of orderly transfer to natural relatives and modern social sensibilities for protecting a spouse and children. In writing a will or creating a trust, a person can establish certain rights according to his or her personal wishes. Make plans now to ensure that your wishes for the fair, orderly, and peaceful transfer of property are fulfilled later. This is perhaps the greatest legacy.

Wills A will is essentially a document containing legal instructions for transfer of property to take place at death. When making a will, a person names those who will benefit from transfers, describes what property will be transferred, and appoints those who will administer the transfers and follow other instructions provided. As noted in previous sections, some properties are passed along according to

Safekeeping. Secure your will in a fireproof location or with your lawyer, but NOT in your safe deposit box. Access to a safe deposit box is frozen upon the death of a box holder. If your will is stored in the box, it will take a court order (literally) to gain access.

previous plans or agreements. Consider all of it in making a will. A person’s domicile, or place of permanent residence, determines which state’s law will apply to an estate. Those with multiple homes take note: Some illustrious estates have been taxed by more than one state due to oversight in establishing residency. A person making a will appoints an executor or personal representative to manage the affairs of the estate, pay bills and taxes, make distributions, etc. Appoint a person who is qualified for the job. Consider your spouse, attorney, associate, adult child or sibling, banker, or a combination of talent. A spouse serving as executor might, for example, hire the family attorney to facilitate administration, bringing together family and legal expertise. Guardians, custodians, and trustees are also standard appointments in a will.

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Will: a legal document with personal instructions for transfer of property upon death.

Usually, a will includes instructions for payments of funeral and burial expenses, taxes,

Decedent: a person who has died; a deceased person is the “decedent.”.

Naming beneficiaries is particularly important regarding unmarried partners and unrelated

Intestate: describing a person who dies without a will.

Certain wishes and rationale for distributions might be explained: “I leave nothing to my

Per stirpes: the division of property under a will among a specified group of beneficiaries and their descendents, e.g., the kids get Dad’s share of Granddad’s estate even if Dad dies before Granddad. Per capita: literally “per head,” the division of property under a will to only the living members of a specified group of beneficiaries, e.g., if Dad has died the grandkids do not get Dad’s share of Granddad’s estate.

probate, administration and executors’ fees or commissions (customarily accepted only by non-beneficiaries of the will), and other anticipated expenses.

individuals who are important to you.

nephews Frank and Jesse because they are otherwise generously provided for.” It’s not necessary, but sometimes preempts disagreement. Division of property is a primary consideration in making a will. In some states, spouses are protected by laws ensuring them a certain percentage of an estate and by homestead rights allowing them to keep the marital home. If a statutory share is more than a spouse is left under a will, he or she has the option to contest the will to claim the share provided by law. Children have similar rights in most states. The court has final say if a will is contested. Those undertaking the contest of a will are advised that court battles, with attorney and court costs, can be the ruin of an estate, as proven in many celebrated families. The provisions of a will are enforced through the legal process called probate. Probate laws increasingly allow simple wills and smaller estates to open and close by filing certain records in the county clerk’s office; larger, more complicated estates, and those to which taxes will likely apply, are administered by the executor and supervised by the probate court. See the Final Wishes section for more about probate. Wills are filled with overlapping legal terms: “I hereby give, devise, and bequeath to…” means simply, “I give to.” A legacy is a gift or bequest under a will. An endowment is a gift or bequest for a specific purpose under a will or while a person is still alive. Elements of a Valid Will •

Written

Name of person of legal age: I, William Parker,…

• • •

Sound mind: …being of sound mind and…

Statement of domicile—i.e., primary residence: …a resident of Jamestown, Virginia,… Intent to transfer property: …do hereby make this my last will and testament

revoking any and all previous wills.…I hereby devise and bequeath…

[here describe beneficiaries, property, distributions, other instructions] • •

Signed: …William Parker

Witnessed by two disinterested (receiving nothing) persons:

…George Washington …John Adams Wills made otherwise might not be valid or may not work as intended. Holographic will: a handwritten, unwitnessed will. Valid in some states; best option if the only option. Oral will: spoken intentions properly witnessed. Not generally accepted. Joint will: mutual will of husband and wife. Impractical; possibly has unintended tax

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consequences. Spouses are advised to make separate wills. Some wills include specific instructions. Testamentary trust will: a valid will that creates a trust—called a “testamentary trust” because it is created by a “last will and testament.” Pour-over will: a valid will that adds, or “pours over,” properties from a will to an existing trust.

Will to live. A misnomer, “living will” does not refer to an actual will, but a signed statement, sometimes called an advance health care directive, expressing personal end-of-life choices, often including a do-not-resuscitate order. See more about such directives and other health-care options in the next section.

Trusts A trust is created by the transfer of property to a separate legal entity. The terms of a trust, written in the trust “instrument,” establish the purpose of the trust, by whom it is administered (trustee), to whom trust benefits are distributed (beneficiaries), and how it is eventually terminated. Trusts usually provide for a certain person or group, or for a particular need. Trusts have various tax and estate advantages depending on their structure. By its own terms, a trust will continue to operate through planned succession of administration. A trust can last through generations, but terminates, or divests, at a certain date or when a certain event takes place, at which time trust assets are distributed to specified “residual beneficiaries.” A living trust is created by the transfer of property to a trust entity that can be added to or revoked at any time. It is a “living” trust because the grantor usually serves as trustee and

Grantor: a person transferring property into trust. Trust: a separate legal entity that assumes ownership of property transferred for specific purposes and administered by trustee(s). Trustee: a person administering a trust, with the legal duty to protect trust assets (property) and follow trust directives.

continues to manage the trust property during his or her lifetime; the trust ends at his or her death. The primary benefit of a living trust is that property owned by the trust is distributed according to the terms of the trust and bypasses probate, unlike property transferred under a will. Because the grantor retains control and can revoke the trust at any time, the trust property is still attributable—and taxable—to the grantor or his or her estate. A living trust may be a good idea for an elderly couple should one or both spouses become incapable of managing investments and property—even a home—or for Susie and her mother, who will leave everything to Susie anyway. Consider the expense of creating a living trust against the savings in skipping probate. Under the right circumstances, a living trust is an excellent planning tool, if not a tax tool. Living Trust

Irrevocable Trust

Property transferred into name of trust

Property transferred permanently into name of trust

Revocable at any time

Irrevocable

Grantor usually acts as trustee, retains control of

Grantor relinquishes control of trust assets; trustee

trust assets

usually a disinterested party

Income and capital gains taxable to grantor

Income and capital gains taxable to trust or beneficiaries

Trust assets subject to estate and/or gift tax at death

Trust assets subject to estate, gift, and/or generation-skipping

of grantor Trust assets not protected from grantor’s creditors

tax only when transferred into trust and never again Trust assets protected from grantor’s and beneficiaries’ creditors

Bypasses probate and is distributed according to the terms of the trust

Bypasses probate and is distributed according to the terms of the trust

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An irrevocable trust, in which a grantor makes a permanent transfer of property to a trust giving all control to a trustee, is a vehicle for transfer and preservation of wealth with limited tax liability. Property transferred into trust is removed from the grantor’s taxable estate and can allow tax-free transfer for generations, providing a significant tax advantage to the grantor’s estate and future beneficiaries. Irrevocable trusts can be constructed for various purposes. Tax expertise is required in creating a trust. The following are different types of irrevocable trusts: Charitable remainder trusts are funded by donations intended for not-for-profit organizations such as universities and cultural institutions and allow the grantor charitable deductions on income or estate tax. For example, a trustee might be instructed to pay the grantor certain trust income for life and donate the remainder of trust assets to the charitable organization upon the death of the grantor. A donor of appreciated assets achieves high value for the deduction and escapes capital gains tax. Tax benefits vary according to terms. Spendthrift, special needs, and discretionary trusts provide for or support a specific person, usually someone unable to manage for herself or himself. Trustees follow specific instructions or are given discretionary powers to use trust income and/or capital for the prescribed particular purpose. “Dynasty,” “wealth,” and generation-skipping trusts allow affluent families to preserve and expand wealth without paying estate taxes. A generation-skipping tax (generally as high as the gift and estate tax rates) is imposed in addition to gift and estate taxes when the trust is created, but trust assets can grow and provide benefits free of such taxes for generations to come. Trust income beneficiaries generally receive periodic distributions; residual beneficiaries receive trust assets upon termination of the trust. Insurance trusts are funded expressly to purchase life insurance that will replace amounts to be paid in estate tax. And these tax-free insurance benefits can essentially restore the full value of a heavily taxed estate to beneficiaries. Benefits may be counted as part of the insured’s estate unless the policy is owned by a third party. Marital trusts are designed to take advantage of the “unlimited marital deduction” between spouses, allowing marital assets to be transferred to a surviving spouse free of tax (not available to non–U.S. citizen spouses). Couples are advised to set up their wills to create testamentary trusts by which the first to die will pass the portion of the estate that qualifies for estate tax credit to the surviving spouse and place the balance of the estate into a “bypass” trust. The trust can provide income to the surviving spouse and upon her or his death transfer trust assets to children or other named beneficiaries. In such case, the marital estate avoids tax when the first spouse dies and again when the second spouse dies, unless his or her assets have increased in value. Creative use of sophisticated trusts, like marital trusts and grantor-retained interest trusts (grantor keeps certain rights for a specific period during which assets are transferred), can transfer property with limited tax exposure while helping to continue a family business, for example, or allowing a parent to remain in a family home even as it changes hands. Tax li-

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abilities vary according to the terms of each trust. Seek professional legal and tax advice in setting up a trust.

The Perry Parker Dynasty

Perry Parker is the matriarch of a great family of great wealth. Upon the advice of her tax attorney, she has created a trust to transfer wealth out of her personal estate to provide income for her family through future generations and to achieve long-term tax advantages. She has transferred $20 million into the Perry Parker Family Trust and appointed her banker as trustee (the institution is the official trustee, but an individual at the bank administers). According to instructions, trust assets are to be invested for income and growth; her family of ten children and grandchildren are to receive income in equal amounts, per capita, and as Parker great-grandchildren come along, they too are to receive equal shares of trust income. Perry’s transfer of assets is considered a lifetime gift and is subject to gift and estate tax. In addition, because the trust will not end for generations to come, the transfer is also subject to a generation-skipping tax. Assuming Perry used her entire lifetime estate and gift tax credit and exemption when creating the trust, the balance of her estate will be taxable without additional tax credit when she dies, though the size of her taxable estate will have been reduced substantially by the amount transferred to the trust and the taxes paid. Luckily, Perry can afford it without affecting her own welfare. Going forward, the trust will be liable for annual tax on capital gains and income tax, and beneficiaries will be responsible for their respective income taxes. The key advantage to Perry and her family is that the $20 million she put into trust will be allowed to grow to perhaps bazillions. And from generation to generation, trust assets will avoid future estate and gift taxes— which were as high as 45 percent when the trust was created—that would otherwise have systematically diminished Perry’s legacy to her family. Matriarch indeed.

Gifts A gift is a wonderful thing. Giving is a joy. Receiving is a pleasure.

Donor: a person making a gift during his or her lifetime.

A valid gift has three elements: •

Intent: you want to give the gift

Delivery: you give the gift now, not the promise of a future gift

Possession: the gift has been received

Of course, the IRS has rules about gifts. Under the annual gift exclusion rule, every person is allowed to make gifts to as many individuals as he or she likes, in one year, free of gift tax, up to the amount of the annual gift exclusion. Spouses, and in some states domestic partners, are permitted to combine exclusions in making a tax-free gift to an individual. Gifts above the exclusion amount may be taxable to donors and must be reported to the IRS. Gift amounts reported are further excluded from taxes up to a lifetime exemption for each individual, but amounts above that exemption could be counted as part of an estate for tax purposes. As a point of reference, the annual exclusion has varied in the last several years between $10,000 and $13,000 per recipient, while the lifetime gift exemption has been $1 million per donor. These figures are subject to change.

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Between spouses, and in some states, domestic partners, gifts are unlimited First things first. Gifts are excellent tax- and estateplanning tools for those who can afford them. Before making any substantial gifts, be sure to determine and provide for your own lifetime needs and wants.

and not subject to tax. Charitable gifts are generally tax-deductible and therefore useful in tax and estate planning. Medical and education payments made on behalf of others but paid directly to the respective institution are not considered taxable gifts. Grandparents can thus help cover major costs such as tuition and medical treatment for their children and grandchildren without tax liability. Parents’ and others’ gifts to children, including minor children, are subject to

gift tax and exclusion rules; however, gifts to minors fall under particular IRS rules, and in certain states there are older laws—the Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA)—allowing gifts to be made to minors only if a custodian or trustee manages them until the child comes of age. Minor children are liable for income and capital gains taxes on the assets through their custodians. Trusts are taxed as separate entities, but any distributions, even to minors, are taxable. Because a valid gift must be of a “present” interest, meaning received and usable now, a trust is not commonly used in making gifts; however, a restricted “Crummey” trust is a hybrid form that validates a gift going into trust if the recipient is allowed a thirty-day period to withdraw the gift. Donors—grandparents, etc.—might have to counsel their donees and cross fingers for thirty days hoping their gifts won’t be withdrawn and will remain in trust, but can thus achieve substantial savings for their beneficiaries and themselves. Special tax benefits for donors are also available through education savings plans. The IRS authorizes “Coverdell” accounts for education savings and also allows states and educational institutions to offer IRA-type savings and prepaid tuition plans for qualified educational expenses. A valid gift is not taxable as income to the recipient; however, a gift is not valid if it represents compensation of any sort, in which case it would be income and taxable as such. And if you’re lucky enough to win the lottery, the winnings are considered taxable income, as are all prizes. Planning and making non-taxable gifts while living rather than through a will can methodically transfer assets to intended beneficiaries and reduce the size of a taxable estate. Chances are, you would give to those who would eventually inherit anyway, and this way, you can enjoy the giving now. Gifts and estates valued at more than tax exclusion and exemption amounts should be planned with the advice of estate and tax-planning professionals.

Notarizing documents. Many legal documents are certified by a Notary Public, who witnesses a person’s signature on a document upon that person’s proof of identity. Notarization is intended to prevent fraud and is generally required where transfer of property or rights is in-

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volved, such as for a deed, mortgage, loan, or power of attorney. Banks and law offices usually involved in such transactions offer notary public services. A will does not usually require notarization as it is otherwise witnessed.


Estate and Gift Taxes When it comes to taxes, stay tuned. Recent tax cuts and proposed legislation suggest that estate and gift tax rules are slated for overhaul. In general, the value of an estate is established by determining the “fair market value” of estate assets and certain lifetime gifts. A “unified” estate and gift tax has been imposed on that value minus various exemptions and deductions, and each person is also automatically allowed a tax credit toward taxes due. If the tax on an estate and those lifetime gifts would amount to less than the credit amount, the estate is distributed tax-free. As a point of reference, recent tax-credit amounts have ranged from $1 million to $3.5 million. Whether unified or separate, estate- and gift-tax rates are progressive: the larger the estate or gift, the higher the tax rate. The only thing certain is that there will be taxes. In fact, just a small percentage of estates are taxable; but if taxes are a con-

Confused about estate and gift taxes? You’re not alone, as the wheels of Congress and state governments continue to grind along the endless track of tax reform. To find current tax rates and estatetax credit, annual gift exclusion, and lifetime gift exemption amounts, search www.irs.gov and [your state]. gov. Use the key words “estate tax,” “gift tax,” or “gift tax rates” and “estate tax rates.” States impose gift and estate, or “inheritance” taxes in addition to the federal tax though usually at substantially lower rates. Inheritance taxes may be charged to beneficiaries unless the will expressly provides for payment by the estate.

cern, get organized, find a reputable estate and tax planner, and get to work.

The Great Escape

In 2010, the sunset year of the 2001 tax act, a lapse in new legislation allowed the estates of those who died to be distributed free of estate tax. The children of one Texas billionaire were shocked not only by the untimely death of their father but also by their unrestricted inheritance of his billions. A year earlier, the government would have claimed about half of it!

Important Documents Keep a record of your will, trusts, major gifts on the fill-in pages. Secure documents here or note the location of originals. Gifts may be tracked through tax records; if lifetime gifts could eventually incur a tax liability for you or your estate, keep your gift reporting and related tax records indefinitely.

Property Records Chart trust investment statements and reports here or in Section 3 with other investments.

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Important Documents Will Parker’s will Document description Jones office Location of original 3 Copy attached

Location contact

3 Other copies / Location Bill Jr. has other copies

June 6, 2008 Tom Jones, assistant Terry Date

Person(s) involved

Bill Jr. Tel 682 0390 E-mail wap@pmail.com Address Rose Road Relationship executor Notes replaces 1970 will Name

Name Tel E-mail Address Relationship

PL

E

Notes

Document description Location of original Copy attached Person(s) involved Tel Address

SA

E-mail

Location contact

Other copies / Location

M

Name

Name Tel

E-mail Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Document description Location of original Copy attached

Location contact

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved

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Date

Name

Name

Tel

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Date


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Sarah Platt Trust u/w Joseph Platt

Trust instrument, quarterly statements Record / Account # 23-12345 at First Bank Location of original Jones office Document

3 Copy attached

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

2000/400,000 2009 yr end/ 350,000

Other copies

Related documents attached

3 Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached

E

Photo / video record attached Insured?

Homesafe policy PZ19411234 Trust assets will divest in Bill Jr and Jill at Sarah’s death—therefore part of our family estate planning

SA

M

Notes

PL

Insurance info

Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document

Record / Account #

Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

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Notes

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Health-care Choices How do health-care choices fit into a plan? Health-care choices are part of a life plan, but not an estate plan, of course. Organize your medical records, health insurance, and long-term plans to manage your situation as well as you can. Honestly considering your personal situation and including those around you is essential and talking about your options with family members is critical. It’s about living well. Health-care Choices


Health-care Choices


Health-care Choices “Be nice to your kids. They’ll choose your nursing home.”

— Phyllis Diller

Who to Call First: Doctors and Key Medical Contacts List emergency and primary doctors, medical suppliers, etc., to call when the need arises. Include your insurer if a call for pre-approval is required for emergency care or procedures. Note the local ambulance service and hospital. Name

Phone / e-mail

Key Information

Health care is of primary concern to every individual at some point. Health and wellness care and health insurance go hand in hand in our society. Find the best insurance plan for yourself and your family or those involved in your life by surveying the choices available through employee benefits, private policies, and/or government programs. When starting or changing a job, or when buying private insurance, take the time to study the many options offered and choose carefully to avoid shortfalls in your level of care or

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Health care power of attorney (POA): legal document authorizing one person to act on behalf of another in making health care decisions should he or she be unable to do so. Living will: a commonly-used misnomer for an advance health-care directive, or donot-resuscitate order, generally made by terminally ill or surgical patients to preclude prolonged infirmity and hardship. Medicare: government health care insurance for ages 65+; Parts are optional and supplemental insurance is allowed. Medicaid: government health care program for those who cannot pay; eligibility requirements vary.

unexpected out-of-pocket expenses. The options can be confusing. Some medical care may not cover hospital stays; some health care may not cover wellness visits to the doctor. Prescription coverage may cost extra. Some policies may not cover or require riders for preexisting conditions, mental health, and certain medical conditions; some limit coverage of services such as rehabilitation and home health care or hospice. Research health care options with family members or friends and online; avoid any but known, trusted insurance agents.

Medical records Chart your latest medical records and note previous doctors and exams. Locate the medical records you’ve collected over the years—results of physicals, surgery dates, test reports, those old school or insurance health records, etc.—and put the current and most complete records in a file or attach them to this section in sleeves. If you do not have particular records (usually released only with a patient’s written permission), simply make note of the pertinent doctor or medical facility. Increasingly, digital reports are readily available on CDrom for a nominal fee. Applying for life insurance or a business loan might involve a physical exam. Be prepared with organized records.

Consider future health-care needs Singles, families with children or expecting them, anyone with chronic conditions or special needs, anyone who is unemployed…everyone faces unforeseeable health-care challenges. Seniors and the elderly—and their children who might eventually bear the burWhere would I go? Everyone eventually considers longterm health care. If infirm or debilitated, would I stay at home? Go into assisted living? Or hospice care? Go to live with my daughter? Or in a nursing home? Young and middle-aged children have these same concerns about their parents. Put the topic out there and have that family discussion. Take notes, keep a journal of your family discussions and do the necessary follow-up research to make appropriate healthcare choices for everyone involved.

den of care—are particularly concerned with medical and medicine expenses and long-term health care. Family discussion can relieve the stress that many seniors and their families suffer regarding the future. Find the right opportunity to talk about plans. Consider living arrangements for later years. Seniors at home, for example, usually fare better living on one story than climbing stairs, and with reliable family living nearby. Retirement/lifestyle communities that incorporate health care are opening everywhere to meet the demands of aging baby boomers. Real-estate developments designed for seniors provide communal activities, sports facilities, and wellness and medical services for profit. Other senior communities are private, not-for-profit facilities operated through religious and community organizations. Seniors can subscribe to lifelong programs offering

residential life with transition to assisted living and long-term care. Information is available online, at senior centers, and in seniors’ publications. Recent health-care legislation includes government-sponsored long-term care insurance to be offered through participating employers. Employees will pay an automatic premium

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unless they opt out; enrollees are promised a minimum daily benefit. Review all the options for health, emergency, and long-term care to secure the most appropriate, affordable, compassionate, qualified care for your personal situation.

Medicare and Medicaid The government provides several health-care options to seniors aged 65 and older under Medicare, and to eligible low-income individuals and families under Medicaid. Medicare is offered in Parts. Part A is hospital insurance, Part B, medical in-

Government aid. Check Medicare and Medicaid websites for details about available programs: www.medicare.gov or search Medicaid [your state]. Don’t be shy about asking friends or family for help in wading through the bureaucracy.

surance that might require an additional premium. An “Advantage” plan and prescriptions are offered separately. Parts may be combined or supplemented by private insurance, and enrollment can be tricky. Look online at www.medicare.gov for charts and tables that clarify the options, or call the Medicare office for information or to ask that written materials be mailed to you. Seniors beware, as you can fall prey to sales schemes regarding these programs at the door and in the mail. If you are aging or middle-aged, remain proactive in reviewing insurance coverage for yourself and your family. Medicaid is intended to help those who cannot help themselves, to heal the sick, and provide acute and long-term care for the needy—an invaluable, if bureaucratic, service to society. Among other requirements, such as age, citizenship, condition, and disability, a test of “means” primarily determines eligibility. Of particular importance to seniors who live on modest income and have no options other than Medicaid for in-home or nursing home care, the “means” test requires virtual poverty on the part of the patient and often of his or her spouse to qualify for eligibility. Medicaid may also preclude supplemental medical treatments, as, theoretically, a person eligible for Medicaid should not be able to afford any additional health care. Check your state’s eligibility requirements when considering your options. Research online using key words Medicaid [your state].

Important Documents Power of Attorney Power of attorney (POA) authorizes one person to act as an agent on behalf of another in all matters. It can be revoked at any time and ends at death. A temporary POA might be executed (written, signed, and notarized) by a person unavailable or unable to handle responsibilities at a particular time—for example, a person not present at a real-estate closing, going into surgery, or at a remote location; or by a person who can no longer take care of him- or herself, or is aging and will not be able to manage responsibilities in the future. A Durable POA remains in force through mental incapacity, allowing a son to handle an aging father’s affairs, for example.

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Health Care Power of Attorney Everyone should take precautions regarding health-care choices in case of emergency. If you have an accident or become incapacitated, a legal relative—spouse, parent—will have the legal right to make medical decisions on your behalf. Unmarried partners, singles living far from family, the elderly or infirm, and people going into surgery are advised to sign a health-care power of attorney giving a person of his or her choice the right to make, possibly, life-and-death decisions. Be sure to discuss your personal preferences with the individual holding your health care POA. Hospitals sometimes offer a fill-in-the-blank health care POA form, also known as a health care proxy, for patients to consider. Carefully read everything you sign. Prepare for emergencies. If you do not have a primary doctor, consider the doctors and hospitals in your area and decide where you would prefer to go in case of emergency. If you’re not sure, ask for recommendations from family, friends, and neighbors. Explain your wishes to those who could end up helping you.

Advance Health Care Directive Sometimes called a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNR) or “living will,” an advance health care directive is a consideration for anyone with a serious condition or illness who does not want to be resuscitated in case of medical crisis. Chronically ill patients most often execute these documents, which must be signed and notarized to be valid. This is a very personal call. After all, emergency medical providers are charged with saving lives.

If you or someone you know has signed such an order or directive, make sure it is placed with your doctor’s medical records and/or will be seen by the right people at the right time. Remind the doctors involved, carry a copy, and read everything you sign in hospitals, whether acting for yourself or with a health care POA.

Presidential Power

Before going under anesthesia for surgery, President Ronald Reagan signed a temporary power of attorney transferring his authority to Vice President George H.W. Bush for the duration of the anesthesia.

Important Documents Record and attach health-care documents here. Give those who will help you in medical crisis the documents they need to protect your wishes and rights.

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Important Documents Health care POA for Will Document description

June 6, 2008 Jones office Location of original Location contact Tom Jones, assistant Terry 3 Copy attached 3 Other copies / Location Sarah, Bill Jr., Dr. Welby, Dr. Gould, my wallet Date

Person(s) involved

Sarah / Bill Jr. Tel 682 0390 E-mail wap@pmail.com Address Rose Road Relationship wife, POA / successor

Name

Casey Morgan Tel 303 925 1244 E-mail c.morgan@deltaseeds.com Address Deltaville, MS Relationship 2nd successor

Notes

Notes

PL

E

Name

Document description

Date

Location of original Location contact Copy attached Person(s) involved

M

Name Tel

SA

E-mail Address

Other copies / Location

Name Tel

E-mail Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Document description

Date

Location of original Location contact Copy attached

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved Name

Name

Tel

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

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Notes

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Final Wishes What is probate? Probate is the legal process through which an estate is settled. Understanding how it works will help you make better choices in your life plan and your estate plan. If you’re organized in life, you’re organized for what comes next.

What about funeral plans, a last-minute personal wish, or change of heart? Personal wishes for funeral and burial plans, or specific bequests, like “Granddad’s fishing rod should go to his namesake, Jamie,” can be expressed in a personal letter and are usually honored by the probate court.

Final Wishes


Final Wishes


Final Wishes “The future has a way of arriving unannounced.”

— George F. Will

Probate is a legal process that ensures the orderly transfer and distribution of property as well as the settlement of estate debts and payment of applicable taxes. A probate court—usually a county court—in the place of primary residence (domicile) of the deceased oversees the process, and all probate proceedings are a matter of public record. Domicile determines applicable tax laws. General steps in the probate process are as follows: •

When someone dies and you’re the appointed executor or key family member,

locate the will if there is one. If you don’t know about a will, search high and low, ask the lawyer(s) or anyone involved who might know, and be prepared to state by affidavit that there is no will. •

Within a few days of a death, the state will issue a death certificate through a local

registrar or clerk of court. Call the local government or lawyer for instructions on obtaining the certificate. •

File the will, if any, and death certificate with the clerk of the appropriate

probate court. If anyone plans to contest a will, this is the time to do it, by filing a complaint with the court. •

In some places, smaller estates can be administered by instruction of

the clerk. More complex wills and estates are placed on the court docket for a judge to review, after which he or she issues letters testamentary authorizing the executor or administrator to proceed. Check online or call the clerk of court for local information. •

With letters testamentary and death certificate in hand, the executor be-

comes the agent of the estate and is legally responsible for conducting the affairs of the estate. •

An executor must publish a death notice, typically in the local newspaper—

the original reason for obituaries—to inform unknown creditors who might have claims against the deceased. •

The first order of business is usually to open a checking account and trans-

fer assets from the name of the deceased to the name of the estate. The execu-

Probate fees. An estate in probate will incur various filing fees, charges for certificates, and court costs, if required. In most cases, financial institutions require original, certified copies of the death certificate and letters testamentary as proof, and some will keep the records on file. Plan what you’ll need in advance to save extra trips to the clerk’s office. An executor who plans to engage a lawyer to assist in the probate process, or a person planning in advance for a lawyer to serve as executor, should inquire about legal fees. A lawyer familiar with an estate may offer a flat fee; hourly fees are more common. Ask about rates before proceeding.

tor pays bills of the deceased and the estate, including funeral and burial costs.

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Probate: the administrative process through which an estate is legally settled.

Clerk of court: a person or office managing records, court docket or schedule, and other matters of a court.

or six months later, at the executor’s option. In some cases, appraisals may be necessary

Registrar: a person or office keeping official public records. Deeds are registered to obtain title; death certificates may be available through a registrar or county clerk, depending on local procedures.

sional or online.

Affidavit: a legally valid statement of proof; a proving document. Letters testamentary: a letter issued by probate court authorizing an executor or estate administrator to conduct the affairs of an estate.

Everything the deceased owned becomes part of the estate. The executor manages

all estate assets and any ongoing business interests, and prepares an inventory of estate assets. Valuation of assets is determined by fair market value on either the date of death at the expense of the estate. Valuation and tax liabilities can be affected by rules regarding carryover basis and step-up in basis in which the appreciation of an estate or gift asset may (or may not) be counted in its value. Find current rules through a legal or tax-planning profes•

Estates may be subject to both estate tax and income tax. Estates of value greater

than the current lifetime gift and estate-tax exclusion will be subject to estate tax. If a person applied the exclusion to gifts and transfers made while alive, the remaining estate will be subject to tax, with no further exclusion. Charitable and other deductions may be allowed. •

An estate containing income-generating financial accounts or rental properties is sub-

ject to income tax as long as it remains open. Income tax returns are filed, as usual, on April 15. Estate tax returns are filed when estate business is settled and has been approved by the probate court, and within nine months of date of death. Executors should reserve amounts needed for ongoing estate expenses until both the IRS and the court have approved and are responsible for timely tax filing. •

After amounts to be paid in tax are determined or set aside, distribution and transfer

of property is made to beneficiaries according to the instructions in the will, or to heirs according to state law. Keep in mind that if the estate is not able to pay taxes due, the beneficiaries will be taxed on their bequests. Distributions may be “disclaimed” (turned down) by beneficiaries or heirs, but unless a disclaimer disrupts the process, distributions simply pass according to instruction. After the estate tax return with accompanying documents—inventory, valuations, taxes, and distributions—is filed, the IRS reviews and issues an “estate tax closing letter.” The executor submits the closing letter and a “final statement” to the probate court for approval to close the estate. With a six-month valuation option, a nine-month tax filing deadline, and an average of fourto six-month tax-approval window, final settlement with probate court oversight usually takes a year or more. Larger, more complicated estates may take years to settle.

Non-probate Property Transfers of property outside of the estate—jointly held accounts, IRA, life insurance, property in trust—require proof by death certificate and affidavit. Remember, even if property transfers outside of probate, the value of anything the deceased owned and controlled is counted as part of the estate for tax purposes. In general, jointly owned accounts and real estate, closely held business interests, retirement accounts, property in living trusts, and insurance benefits, yes; property in irrevocable trusts, no. Non-probate distributions are made as soon as proving documents are presented.

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Life-insurance and retirement-account funds are released almost immediately; registering new title with appropriate registrars completes other transfers.

Probate Checklist 

Obtain death certificate

 File with clerk of court; appear in court if necessary  Letters testamentary issued  Publish death notice  Manage the business of the estate, open checking account, pay bills  Inventory and establish valuation of estate assets  File tax returns and pay taxes; receive estate tax closing letter, if necessary  Make divisions, distributions, transfers  Final statement presented to court _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________ _______________________________________________________________

Trophy Case

A son who doesn’t think Dad’s sixth wife should get his entire estate despite what his will says can contest the validity of the will and claim his statutory share, the share of an estate he would be entitled to by law. Proof of fraud, duress, mental incompetence, or other illegal activity is required, and it gets complicated, of course. And it causes delays and costs the estate money. Planning well is a better idea.

And when the time comes… Whether or not they’d admit it, many people ponder funeral and burial, and it is not unusual to plan ahead. Is there room for me in the family plot? What about my husband and children? So far from family, does it matter? Should my ashes be sprinkled at the lake? Can they be? I really don’t like chrysanthemums…but I would like a lunch party for all my family after the burial. Burial and cremation choices can be highly emotional family, religious, and cultural issues. Consider a new location for your own family if the old family plot has limited space. Inquire about religious services and burial. If you know what you want, tell your spouse, children, partner, friends, or anyone who will see it through for you. Or write a letter and enclose it with your will. Make sure you have chosen a reliable executor. Many people have planned their own funerals, to the relief of their families. Adult children are advised to ask parents if they have plans or thoughts about funeral and burial. It’s personal, it’s about family, and it’s a matter of respect.

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Ready cash. It might not come to mind until the moment arises, but there’s always a need for cash at critical times. It takes several days for an executor to open an estate and gain access to cash and other estate assets. The wait could be a concern. Meanwhile, how will I get cash? Keep cash on hand, especially if the need is anticipated. Spouses and partners are advised to keep at least one bank and credit-card account in separate names. Joint checking accounts with right of survivor-

ship are technically frozen until title is legally transferred to the survivor. Surviving account holders have a duty to inform in this case. Will the credit card in my spouse’s/partner’s name work? Yes, but it should not be used. Again, there is a duty to report. Bank, credit card, and other financial accounts are closed and transferred by submitting death certificate, letters testamentary, and possibly affidavits to each institution.

Last Wishes In many states, a personal letter making personal bequests is acknowledged by the probate court as long as it does not substantially alter instructions and distributions under a will. Such a letter might include, for example, “The monogrammed pocket watch that came to me from Uncle Gil, after whom I am named, should go to my grandson and namesake, Gilbert.” Under a Contemplation of Death rule, substantial “last minute” gifts that reduce estate tax may be counted as part of an estate for tax purposes if made within three years of death. However, even if taxable and contrary to the terms of a will, such gifts will generally be considered valid as long as they meet the elements of a legal gift. It is a better idea to plan ahead and make annual tax-free gifts to methodically reduce a taxable estate, and to give particular gifts while you can enjoy the giving. Make personal plans when wits are sharp to avoid late-in-life pressure or duress from family members.

Important Documents Keep you final wishes here or with your will to ensure those who should see them can find them. Be sure to let your key contacts know the location.

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Important Documents Personal letter to family including funeral/burial plans Document description safe Location of original 3 Copy attached

Date

2008

Location contact

3 Other copies / Location Bill Jr., sealed

Person(s) involved Name

Sarah

Name

Bill Jr.

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Sealed envelope, to be opened when Sarah and/ or Will dies. Sarah’s plans also included. Bill Jr. knows of the plans.

Notes

PL

Notes

E

Tel

Document description Location of original Copy attached Person(s) involved Tel Address

SA

E-mail

Location contact

Other copies / Location

M

Name

Name Tel

E-mail Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

Document description Location of original Copy attached

Date

Date

Location contact

Other copies / Location

Person(s) involved Name

Name

Tel

Tel

E-mail

E-mail

Address

Address

Relationship

Relationship

Notes

Notes

47


Notes

48


Resources & Advisors How can I find the pros I need in making a plan? Recommendations of friends and associates, local professional organizations, online research, and other references will help you find the expertise you need.

Resources & Advisors


Resources & Advisors


Resources & Advisors “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.�

— Benjamin Franklin

Finding Estate and Tax-planning Expertise If you do not already have or know of a lawyer with estate-planning expertise, someone in your family or a close friend probably does. Personal references from people you know are most likely to provide the best leads. They know you and something about your circumstances and may have had experiences that will inform your situation. Be discreet. There is no need to give away any personal information as you inquire unless you choose to do so and are sure your confidence will be kept. Business associates are reliable sources for recommendations, as are your financial advisor, accountant, or business lawyers. Large law firms have specialists in many fields; a lawyer you work with in one specialty may suggest an estate-planning lawyer in his or her firm or another. Banks, financial institutions, charitable organizations, universities, and insurance companies all offer estate- and tax-planning information online and in the mail and many offer estate planning services. To stay informed look at those unsolicited mailings once in a while or call to ask that materials be mailed. Professional and national associations such as state or local bar associations often offer free advice and referral services sometimes at a nominal referral fee. Check online or in phone directories to find local chapters, lawyer referral services, and estate-planning professionals. Try to obtain two or three recommendations. Follow up by researching the individual or firm online and/or by asking around if appropriate. Make notes of your important questions for the first call or meeting. Call, e-mail, or meet to interview prospective pros to be sure you are comfortable with them and that they have the expertise and experience your particular situation requires (i.e., a prenup lawyer is not necessarily a trusts-and-estates lawyer). Ask about fees and timelines, who does the actual

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work (paralegals and assistants often do), and whether they’ll be available when you call. Be thorough and take the time you need in choosing the pro that’s right for you. It’s your plan on the line.

Be cautious online. Do not divulge personal information or “register” to receive information. There is plenty of information available for free, and registering or providing your contact information could lead to unintended consequences like spam, unwanted marketing calls, and even identity theft. A life plan and an estate plan are personal matters. Once you are organized and informed, seek out the appropriate expertise and make personal contact on your own terms.

Online Resources Online research provides expansive information about estate-planning matters. www.usa.gov and www.irs.gov are expansive websites that cover government programs and tax aspects of estate planning. www.[your state].gov will provide similar information for your respective state. Commercial websites offer an abundance of information, though legal accuracy cannot be assured. Legal forms for almost any purpose are readily available online, usually for a fee. Some sites also offer filing services (e.g., for forming a corporation) and make assurances about other legal requirements. In most cases, review by a local attorney is advisable.

And—yes—Books! Estate-planning books provide comprehensive information, a great way to consider all the options in detail. Legal, financial, and news organizations, as well as an abundance of legal and financial professionals, regularly publish reliable guides, some more specific than others. Because laws affecting estate plans are continually changing, check publication dates to ensure a book is current, and skim the content to make sure it suits your situation. Many financial organizations, publications, and news and cable outlets offer general estateplanning advice on their websites and in periodic articles often related to a recent change in the law or political issue. Check your local library or search online. Draw from as many resources as you find helpful.

Key Search Words Use the terms defined and highlighted throughout Life Organizer as key words in online research. Refine searches to match your personal situation, e.g., will guardian, trust charitable, business continuation, probate [enter your state], etc. Because state laws define many estate matters, enter your state name as a key word to narrow your search where results are confusing or broad. Estate planning leads to broad information and promotions of financial products or media outlets. Estate planning [enter your city]” will lead to listed local professionals. Estate tax leads to current rates and other helpful facts. Enter your state name for state rates. Health insurance [enter your state] is primarily regulated by states; insurance offered in your state will appear.

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Medicare is explained on information websites such as online encyclopedias, but the medicare.gov site has it all. Medicaid is managed by states; on your state’s website, search Medicaid, or enter Medicaid [enter your state]. Trusts (plural form) leads to general information; remember, trusts are custom-tailored to achieve particular objectives. Seek legal advice in creating a trust. Will prompts online sites for do-it-yourself forms and general information. Forms you prepare should be reviewed by a lawyer and must be completed, signed, and witnessed properly to be valid. Closely held business and business structure provide extensive general leads. LLC jumps to countless resources, including do-it-yourself forms; be sure to refine your search appropriately. Sole proprietor [enter your state] prompts general information and local registration requirements. Partnership and corporation or forming a corporation bring up informative sites.

Ask Around

Plan your questions when asking for a recommendation. “Rachel and I have not made wills, but with the new baby we realize we have to take care of it. Ruthie mentioned that you two have made wills and set up a trust. We need to look at all the options. Can you recommend a lawyer to help us? Do you have any particular advice for us?�

Contact Information Chart contact info on estate-planning professionals, websites, and other resources on the fill-in pages.

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Contact Information Thomas J. Jones Name

684 4000 Tel

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Attorney, trusts and estates, family

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Smith, Jones LLC, 800 Main Street, Riverton has copies of will, partnership agreement, health care POA, successor executor

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Contact Information Name

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Contact Information Name

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Contact Information Name

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Contact Information Name

Relationship / Position

Tel

E-mail

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Tel

E-mail

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Name

Relationship / Position

Tel

E-mail

Address Notes

Name

Relationship / Position

Tel

E-mail

Address Notes

Name

Relationship / Position

Tel

E-mail

Address Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

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Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

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Who When What was discussed

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Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

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Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

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Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Family Discussion Journal Who When What was discussed

Notes

Who When What was discussed

Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


Property Records Real Estate, Investments, Retirement Accounts, Business Interests, Insurance Policies, Debts, etc. Description

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Date / Cost

Date / Current Value

Liability / Debt

Net / Equity

Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes

Description Document Record / Account # Location of original Copy attached

Other copies

Related documents attached Valuation / Appraisal attached Plat attached Photo / video record attached Insured? Insurance info Notes


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Nancy Randolph Greenway, attorney and estate-planning speaker, is the co-author of Pass It On: A Practical Approach to the Fears and Facts of Planning Your Estate (Hyperion). She combines clear and friendly prose with experience and expertise to make Life Organizer the definitive resource for reference, organization, and storage in matters of basic estate planning.

The content of this publication is provided to assist with organization and is not intended as legal advice. If legal advice regarding any particular or described situation is required, consult an attorney.

Life Organizer: The Essential Record Keeper & Estate Planner Published in 2011 by Welcome Books® An imprint of Welcome Enterprises, Inc. 6 West 18th Street, New York, NY, 10011 (212) 989-3200; fax (212) 989-3205 www.welcomebooks.com

Publisher : Lena Tabori President : H. Clark Wakabayashi Project Director: Alice Wong Editor : Taylor Sperry Legal Consultant: Helen Lee Designers : Gregory Wakabayashi & Kristen Sasamoto

Copyright © 2011 Welcome Enterprises, Inc. Text © 2011 Nancy Randolph Greenway All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

isbn: 978-1-59962-092-3 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data on file

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5

First Edition 7 9 10 8

6

4

2

p r i n te d i n c h i n a

For further information about this book please visit online: www.welcomebooks.com/lifeorganizer

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US $29.95 / $34.00 CAN

Life Organizer: The Essential Record Keeper & Estate Planner  

Life Organizer: The Essential Record Keeper & Estate Planner is the perfect place for recording and storing all essential information, and f...