In Perspectives

CAN WE TALK?

A smart and simple way to address the details in estate planning

 

Is there any better way to spend the holidays than with family? For some, it may be the only time of the year when you see each other face to face. At these rare gatherings, you are presented with an opportunity to have a very important conversation – a conversation about estate planning. I know, talking about money and death might put a damper on the family fun, but if handled properly it can be an open discussion that provides comfort to your loved ones down the road.

While it can be tough to start discussing your estate plans, it’s a conversation that should not be avoided. For the conversation to be effective, you should refrain from talking about specific dollar amounts. Instead you should talk to loved ones about the role they play in your plans, the process, and why the estate assets are being distributed in a certain way. For example, too often families don’t discuss why money is left in trust for their heir’s benefit. It may be for certain tax benefits, asset protection, or investment management reasons. If not explained properly beforehand, heirs can come to misguided conclusions—”Dad never thought I could handle money” or “Grandma didn’t care for my wife” or “Mom always liked you best.” Don’t leave them wondering – by developing and discussing your estate plans, you can help eliminate anxiety and tension among loved ones and avoid potential legal fees in the future.

HOW TO HAVE THE CONVERSATION

Step 1: Break the ice by discussing clerical matters. Tell your family where important documents are located, the contact information for your key advisors (financial advisors, accountants, and attorneys), and what immediate steps need to be taken at your passing.

Step 2: Summarize your view of the family’s values, purpose and legacy. Talking about your family’s values is much easier than talking about money. Explain that your focus is on responsibly transferring assets to the next generation while protecting your family’s values and avoiding conflict. Explain that relationships matter more than money or things. That is the true goal of your estate plans.

Step 3: Explain their role in your plans. It is likely that one or more children will become directly responsible for your affairs while you’re still alive. It’s important that they know your wishes and know what their responsibilities entail. If, for example, you’ve chosen your son as your personal representative, discuss with him the scope of his duties and how he interacts with your trustee after your passing.

Step 4: Agree on another time to discuss a specific topic in greater detail. The scope of your first conversation should be general and big picture. Ask to reconvene with them at some later date, either individually or as a family, to discuss more specific aspects of your estate plans. For example, set up a time to discuss the distribution of your personal property. Are there any family heirlooms that hold sentimental value to a particular child? What is the fairest way to divide up your household goods?

Step 5: Conclude the conversation by reminding your adult children to begin drafting their own estate plans. Sadly, one of your children could predecease you. What would they like to see happen to their share of your inheritance if the unthinkable happened?

Ultimately, no one knows your family better than you, which makes you the best judge of what should be discussed with each family member. It’s been my experience that the more your family knows about why your estate plans are designed a certain way, the better. The more advance planning you do with your family involved, the easier the transition will be for them in the future.

If you need help discussing your estate plans with your heirs, you should seek assistance from an expert in estate planning. At Legacy Trust, we have advisors available to help. Whether you need help or not getting the conversation started, we encourage you to talk with your loved ones – it can make the holidays even more meaningful to the people you cherish most in life.

Click the link below to listen to a podcast featuring Kelly DeRidder further discussing the topic of estate planning:

WGVU News Podcast with Kelly DeRidder

Legacy Trust and Your Right to Financial Privacy

At Legacy Trust we have established policies and practices that respect the financial privacy of all individuals who use our trust company. We believe it is critical to comply with the laws and regulations designed to secure your financial privacy. Your relationship with us as our client is very important to us, and we want you to understand our policies and practices about handling your information.

This Policy applies to you – This Policy applies to our relationships with individual clients who inquire about or obtain products or services from us for personal, family and household purposes.

Strict security measures – We take the security of information very seriously. We have established security standards and procedures to prevent access to client information. We maintain physical, electronic and procedural safeguards to guard client information.

Limited employee access – We have established procedures to limit employee access to information to only those employees with a business reason for accessing such information. We educate our employees about the importance of confidentiality and client privacy. We take appropriate disciplinary measures to enforce employee responsibilities regarding client information.

Why we collect information – We collect information about you to:

  • accurately identify you;
  • protect and administer your records, accounts and funds;
  • help us design or improve our products and services;
  • understand your financial needs;
  • save you time when you apply for new products and services; offer you quality products and services; and comply with certain laws and regulations;

We collect information – We collect and maintain your personal information so that we can provide investment management and other services to you. The types and categories of information that we collect and maintain about you include:

  • Information we receive from you to open an account or provide investment advice or other services to you (such as your home address, social security number, telephone, financial information and investment objectives).
  • Information that we generate to service your account or from our transactions with you (such as account statements and other financial information).
  • Information on your transactions with nonaffiliated third parties.

We have established procedures so that the financial information we collect is accurate, current and complete. We are committed to work with you to promptly correct any inaccurate information.

Our selective sharing of information – In order for us to provide investment management and other services to you, we do disclose your personal information in very limited instances, which include:

  • Disclosures to nonaffiliated companies as permitted by law, including those who help us service your account (such as providing account information to brokers and custodians).
  • Other limited disclosures as permitted by law, for example, required reports to government entities.

We do not share your information with third parties for marketing purposes. We do not sell your information.

Former clients – If you end your relationship with us, we will continue to adhere to the privacy policies and practices described in this notice.

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Important Information About Procedures For Opening A New Account

To help the government fight the funding of terrorism and money laundering activities, Federal law requires all financial institutions to obtain, verify and record information that identifies each person who opens an account.

What this means for you: When you open an account, we will ask for your name, address, date of birth and other information that will allow us to identify you. We may also ask to see your driver’s license or other identifying documents.

We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause; however, federal law prohibits us from waiving these requirements.

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