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Don’t Make the Mistake of Letting the State Determine Your Estate Plan

If you died today, would you feel comfortable that all your assets are properly titled, your beneficiary designations are in order, and your assets would go to exactly who you want them to go to?

Many people have worked a lifetime to accumulate assets but then fail to take the final step to ensure they are distributed to the right people after they pass.

In today's show, I'm joined by estate planning attorney Jason Salinardi and we discuss how to make sure your assets and life wishes are handled exactly as you desire in the event of your incapacitation or death.

Episode Overview

Estate planning is not just for rich people with $10 million estates. We all need an estate plan because a proper estate plan includes more than just your financial assets.

As you'll learn in today's show, a proper estate plan also covers what happens if you become incapacitated, beneficiary protection planning, and legacy planning. In all, there are seven components of a comprehensive estate plan and we discuss all of them in today's episode.

Download the Transcript Here

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Five Insights on Estate Planning 

1. Estate planning is about taking control.

Estate planning is about having control of our property while we are alive, taking care of ourselves and our loved ones if we become disabled, and giving what we have to whom we want, the way we want, and when we want; all while assuring our true wealth is transferred. Furthermore, in the estate planning process, we try to save every last tax dollar, professional fee, and court cost legally possible.

2. Even if you've never set up an estate plan, you actually have one.

When you die without a will or estate plan, that's called dying intestate. It means state laws will determine how your assets are divvied up--and it probably won't be exactly how you'd like. The most recent prominent example of this is Prince. He died without a will and the courts decided how his mega-million dollar estate was distributed.

3. A common mistake is setting up an estate plan then not revisiting it for many years.

Jason said he sees estate plans all the time that were made 10 - 15 years ago but are now woefully out of date. It's important to make sure your plan stays up-to-date with your current wishes because as we all know, life happens. Any time you have a major life event, you should check-in with your financial advisor or estate planning attorney to see if your plan needs updating.

4. Updating your will by adding a yellow sticky note or writing on it and initialing it probably won't work.

In a pinch, you might be tempted to just write a note on your existing will or other estate planning documents and then initialize it. Jason said that's not a good strategy and you can never be sure that would hold up in court. You're much better off getting the documents updated so you don't have to worry about it.

5. If you are incapacitated, you need somebody who is authorized to make medical and financial decisions on your behalf--but make the authorization decision before you become incapacitated.

A durable power of attorney is an important estate planning tool. It enables someone--whom you've designated--to make decisions and enter into agreements and contracts on your behalf and it can kick in when you become incapacitated. This person could make medical and financial decisions on your behalf while you are unable. And here's a key point, you can designate different people to make medical decisions and financial decisions for you. The tool is very flexible but you have to set it up before incapacity sets in.

Jason Salinardi on estate planning...

Sixty to seventy percent of people do not have an estate plan. It's a big problem because if you die, your state laws determine who gets your estate.

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Got a question or comment? Email it to me and we'll get back to you or call our office at (913) 624-1841. 

About Bill

Bill Keen is a CHARTERED RETIREMENT PLANNING COUNSELOR℠ and independent financial advisor with more than 25 years of industry experience. As the founder and CEO of Keen Wealth Advisors, a registered investment advisory firm, he specializes in providing personalized retirement planning designed to help people thrive before and during their retirement years. With a passion for educating others, Bill regularly blogs about retirement planning, hosts the podcast Keen on Retirement, and has contributed to U.S. News and World Report, Reuters, Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch, Yahoo Finance, and other publications. Based in Overland Park, Kansas, Bill and his team work with clients throughout the greater Kansas City area and across the nation. To learn more, connect with him on LinkedIn or visit www.keenwealthadvisors.com.

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