Ilyce Glink on the Clark Howard Show – January 17, 2010
Today, Ilyce Glink guest hosts the Clark Howard Show. It was stunning to find out over the weekend that Royal Marshall, WSB talk show host, sidekick to Neil Boortz, loving husband and father, and Deacon at his church, passed away. What a huge loss for the station and his family. We will all miss Royal so much.
With today’s show we want to pay tribute to Royal. Ilyce also shares advice for Estate Planning — how to write a will, choose a guardian for your children, and protect your family.
Tip 1: Develop an Estate Plan.
Planning what happens to your assets should the unthinkable happen is a central park of making your finances disaster-proof. And so developing an estate plan, in which you make all the big tough decisions about who is going to get what, is a very important step.
Estate planning is not something you can usually do by yourself. You’ll need to find a few different people to fill different jobs on your estate team, including:
- An Executor
- A Guardian
- A Trustee
- An Agent
Tip 2: Write a will and sign it
A valid, enforceable will could be one of your most important documents. If you sign it and have it properly witnessed and notarized, your estate will be distributed the way you want. If you don’t have a will, the state will decide who gets what, and everything (including your children) could be left to the wrong person.
If you have children, naming a guardian is one of the most important steps of writing a will. A will is the place to state who should be given guardianship over your minor children. Writing a signed, sealed letter won’t do, and while the court may consider it when deciding on placement, there’s no obligation to follow your instructions. But if you have a properly executed will, which is a legal document, the court must follow your wishes.
Tip 3: Sign a Living Will
A living will tells the world how you want to die, just in case you can’t. Any way you cut it, signing a living will is a difficult thing to do. You’re declaring your mortality to the world and tying up loose ends. However difficult it is for you to sign the living will, knowing what your wishes are can save the people closest to you from an emotional dispute that could tear apart your entire family, not to mention deplete your loved ones’ savings accounts.
You can buy a living will in a stationary store, or from a website like Nolo.com. You can even go to a local library and copy the statute from the state court books (ask the librarian for help). It may even be available through your state’s website.
Tip 4: Sign a Power of Attorney for Health Care
A power of attorney, also known as a durable power of attorney, is a document that gives someone the right to act on your behalf. A power of attorney for health care gives your designated agent the right to make decisions about your health care in the event you are unable to do so.
Technically, you should sign both a living will and a power of attorney for health care, although there is some overlap. If you don’t have a living will, but have signed a power of attorney for health care, your designated agent can tell the doctos what your final wishes would be in terms of live-prolonging medical care.
Tip 5: Sign a Durable Power of Attorney for Financial Matters
A durable power of attorney for financial matters, also known in some states as a durable power of attorney for property, is one of the most powerful legal documents. It gives your designated agent the ability to pledge, sell, or otherwise dispose of your real estate or other personal property without giving you advance notice or seeking your approval.
When you’re preparing an estate plan, the power of attorney for financial matters gives someone the right to pay bills, sell assets, and invest your money whether you’re able to do so or not. If you chose your agent wisely, he or she may be able to slowly sell off pieces of your estate to pay for special or experimental medical treatments or a nursing home — costs that may not be covered by your insurance policy.
Tip 6: Consider putting your assets into a living trust
There are two kinds of trusts: revocable and irrevocable. An irrevocable trust means you give away direct control over your assets permanently. Once an irrevocable trust is set up, it can’t be changed or altered.
A revocable trust, also known as a living trust, allows you to transfer your stocks, property, and other assets into the trust. For as long as you live, you are the trust’s beneficiary. You can change or modify the trust as frequently as time and dollars permit.
There are a couple of benefits to a living trust. First, it allows you to do exactly what a will does, including designate who will be the trust’s beneficiary after you die. It also permits a speedy transfer of assets. You’ll save something on your probate filing fees (since in some states probate may not even be necessary if you have a living trust). And it helps straighten things out if you own assets in several states (including homes or investment property, businesses, or boats).
Tip 7: Make your funeral plans
Planning your funeral, and taking care of the expenses up front, is the final part of your estate plan. Where you’d like to be buried or cremated, what kind of service would be meaningful to you, and who should participate, are all decisions you can make today that will ease the financial and emotional burden on your loved ones after you’re gone.
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