Once we assess the type of assets you own through our Family Wealth Worksheet questionnaire, we will better understand your specific risk factors and the level of protection you desire.
We assist our clients in determining the appropriate level of asset protection planning for their particular circumstances.
If you have a business, it is necessary to review how it is set up. Our Small Business Legal Audit is a key first step.
Customized combinations are layered depending on your needs. There are many different strategies to accomplish the protection of your assets while you are alive and after you are gone.
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In some cases, you could inadvertently leave a reality in which your surviving heirs—your kids, parents, or others—are responsible for your debt. Alternatively, if you structure your affairs properly, your debt could die right along with you.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, an individual’s debt does not disappear once that person dies. Rather, the debt must either be paid out of the deceased’s estate or by a co-creditor. And that could be bad news for you or the people you love.
What exactly happens to this debt can vary. One of the purposes of the court process known as probate is to provide a time period for creditors to make a claim against the deceased’s estate, in which case debts would be paid before beneficiaries receive their inheritance. But if there is nothing in the probate estate and all assets are held outside of the probate estate, then what?
Well, that’s where we come in, and why it’s so important to get your affairs in order, even if you have a lot more debt than assets. Your “estate” isn’t just what you own, it includes what you owe, too. And with good planning, we can help you align it all in exactly the way you want.
DEBT AFTER DEATH
When an individual dies, someone will handle his or her affairs, and this person is known as an executor. The executor can either be someone of the individual’s choice, if he or she planned in advance, or someone appointed by the court in the absence of planning. The executor opens the probate process, during which the court recognizes any will that’s in place and formally appoints the executor to administer the deceased’s estate and distribute any outstanding assets to their loved ones.
During this process, the estate’s assets are used to pay any outstanding debt. This usually includes all of an individual’s assets, although it does not include assets with beneficiary designations, such as 401(k) plans and insurance policies. The estate does not own these assets, and they pass directly to the named beneficiaries. Given these factors, if an individual’s assets are subject to probate and the person has outstanding debt, their beneficiaries will receive a smaller share of anything left to them in the estate plan.
But if you do, you need to understand how these services can backfire on you and your family. Online estate planning can be a catastrophe for those who aren’t aware of the risks. And as you’ll see, creating your will online without a lawyer’s guidance can even be worse for your family than if you’d done nothing at all.
KNOW WHAT’S POSSIBLE—AND WHAT’S NOT
A great way to start educating yourself is by watching this training video by family financial and legal expert Ali Katz. This free, one-hour training clarifies what you can do yourself online, and when you really need a lawyer’s support. The training also gives you access to an online tool you can use to create an inventory of all your assets, which is critically important to leave to your loved ones, no matter how much or little you have to pass on. Meanwhile, if you are looking to create your own will online, first ask yourself the following 3 questions.
After considering these 3 questions, if you determine you can create your own will online, you should seriously consider having us review it for you once you complete the document to be certain you’ve properly covered everything and everyone you care about.
01 - WILL YOUR ONLINE WILL KEEP YOUR FAMILY OUT OF COURT?
When considering creating your own will online, the first question you need to ask yourself is: “Should I become incapacitated or when I die, do I want to keep my family out of court?” If your answer is “Yes, I 100% want to keep my family out of court,” then creating your own will online may not be the best idea.
While a will is a necessary element of most estate plans, it’s typically just one small part of an integrated plan. And a will by itself won’t keep your family out of court. In order for assets covered by your will to be transferred to your beneficiaries, your will must first pass through the court process known as probate.
In most conventional burials, the body is pumped with toxic embalming fluid, placed in a steel casket, and buried within a cement-lined vault six-feet underground. According to the Green Burial Council, burials in the U.S. go through roughly 77,000 trees, 100,000 tons of steel, 1.5 million tons of concrete, and 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluid each year.
Although cremation is touted as more eco-friendly than burial, it still comes with serious environmental risks. In fact, cremating a single body uses about the same amount of gas as a 500-mile road trip, according to the Natural Death Center.
Cremation also releases some 250 lbs. of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, roughly the same amount an average American home produces in a week. With the death rate expected to spike as Baby Boomers age, the funeral industry is poised to cause even more damage. While green funerals are a recent trend, natural burials were the norm until the Civil War, which coincided with the rise of the industrial age, embalming, and the modern funeral director business.
Today, natural burials are making a comeback. Green funerals are designed to not only be more environmentally friendly, but also less expensive overall than conventional burial or cremation. If you want to make your last act on this planet less harmful to the ecosystem, here are 6 green funeral options, along with the best way to include your final wishes in your estate plan.
Because no one knows exactly how long aging Boomers will live or how much money they’ll spend before they pass on, it’s impossible to accurately predict just how much wealth will be transferred. However, studies suggest it’s somewhere between $30 and $90 trillion. Yes, that’s “trillion” with a “t.”
A BLESSING OR A CURSE?
While most are talking about the many benefits the wealth transfer might have for younger generations and the economy, fewer are talking about the potential negative ramifications. Yet there’s plenty of evidence suggesting that many people, especially younger generations, are woefully unprepared to handle such an inheritance.
In fact, an Ohio State University study found that one third of people who received an inheritance had a negative savings within two years of getting the money. Another study by The Williams Group found that intergenerational wealth transfers often become a source of tension and conflict among family members, and 70% of such transfers fail by the time they reach the second generation. Regardless of whether you’ll be the one passing on wealth or inheriting it, you must have a well-prepared estate plan in place to prevent the potentially disastrous losses and other negative outcomes such transfers can lead to. Without proper planning, the money and other assets that get passed on can easily become more of a curse than a blessing for you and your loved ones.
DISABILITY INSURANCE: ISSUES TO CONSIDER
The answers to these 7 questions can give you the best chance of finding a policy that is well-suited for your particular situation.
01 - WHAT IS DISABILITY INSURANCE?
Disability insurance pays benefits when you are unable to work because you are sick or injured. Most policies pay a benefit that replaces a percentage of your income. But disability insurance is not the same as health insurance—it will not cover your medical bills.
Instead, disability benefits replace a percentage of the income you lose due to your inability to work, so you can cover your basic financial needs, such as paying bills, covering daily living expenses, and providing for your family, until you can return to work. To begin your search for disability insurance, first you need to get clear about your minimum financial needs, or what we call your “minimum to thrive” number, should you become unable to work. If you don’t currently know what your “minimum to thrive” number is, contact us for help calculating this number, and we can refer you to tools or an advisor who can support you.