Estate Planning: Communication and Storage Tips

Norm Boone / Jul 31, 2018 / Estate Planning

I’ll bet many people reading this article haven’t finished their estate plan.

According to CNBC’s 2015 survey, 38% of those polled with investable assets of $1 million or more have not established an estate plan. Lots of people take the responsible step and get started on making sure things are in place in the event of their death or incapacitating illness.

Unfortunately, far too few of us actually finish the process. So many people put it off, postpone it indefinitely, or refuse to acknowledge its usefulness. Some individuals will take the time to meet with an estate planning attorney and draft their documents, but not sign them. Others will hastily change the subject to a less existential topic. A famous example of avoidance comes from legendary pop musician Prince, who died suddenly with no will in place despite his massive fortune.

But if you have loved ones and assets, and care about where those assets end up, estate planning is a must. So let’s make sure you’re not part of the aforementioned 38%.


Women's Circle Roundup: Beyond Estate Planning Documents

Liz Revenko / Jun 9, 2017 / Women's Circles / Estate Planning

Estate planning enables you to guide decisions affecting your life when you are no longer able to do so. When you’re alive and able, you simply make your own financial and medical decisions.  Core documents for estate planning are wills, trusts, powers of attorney for financial affairs, and advance healthcare directives.

But there’s a big difference between you representing yourself and a piece of paper representing your wishes.

So what can you do to add greater understanding about your wishes—so that your choices and values are represented when you are no longer able to make your own decisions regarding your affairs?

In our recent Women’s Circle discussion series, we contemplated just this question. Here are some strategies we discussed to enhance your estate planning documents, including a helpful list of ways to communicate your wishes, with links to some handy templates to help you prepare. 


Save the date: May Women's Circles

Liz Revenko / Apr 13, 2017 / Women's Circles / Mosaic News / Estate Planning

Now that your primary estate planning documents are hopefully in place, it’s time to figure out the messages, values, and vision that will be your legacy. And how to communicate your wishes.


Trusts: Maximize Charitable Giving While Minimizing Estate Taxes

Mosaic / Feb 7, 2017 / Estate Planning / Tax Planning / Charitable Giving

Charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) and charitable lead trusts (CLTs) are two popular types of split-interest trusts commonly used by individuals and families for managing taxes in an estate plan while simultaneously supporting charitable organizations. 

Interested in how trusts maximize charitable giving while minimizing estate taxes? This article describes the key characteristics and potential benefits of two these types of trusts—charitable lead trusts and charitable remainder trusts. 



Women's Circle Roundup: Thoughts About Estate Planning Safety Nets

Mary Ballin / Oct 13, 2016 / Women's Circles / Estate Planning

Another successful Women’s Circle series rounded out our September.

Over lunch, we discussed the top estate planning documents, also known as “docs that are underestimated until they are actually needed.”  We are proud of our participants, about the actions they planned to take after the discussion, and of what they taught us about interpreting the process of estate planning, and of financial planning for women in general.

Five safety nets that are not insurance:

  1. Will
  2. Trust
  3. Power of Attorney for Financial Matters
  4. Advanced Health Care Directive
  5. Master Document to Guide Your Survivors 

Do you need these? Not if you are okay with the plan that the state of California has for you. You also don’t need them if you are alive with full physical capabilities and the mental capacity needed in order to make financial and health care decisions for yourself—and if you know you will always stay that way forever.


Prince Had No Will, Reports Say — But You Should

Norm Boone / Apr 30, 2016 / Estate Planning

When Prince died last week at age 57, he left behind one full sibling and a massive estate.

Its total value is unknown, and there’s been much speculation about who will inherit it — especially because the musician appears to have died without a will.


April Bell on Ethical Wills

Mosaic / Jan 20, 2016 / Estate Planning


Personal historians often have to talk with potential clients about the value of saving a loved ones’ story. To most who work in my profession, the answer is obvious. A life story saved in a way that it can be passed on to future generations is the best gift anyone can leave for their children, grandchildren, and generations to come. This legacy is the most personal gift, the gift with the most meaning, the gift that only the storyteller can give.


Legacy Letters

Steve Branton / Dec 28, 2015 / Estate Planning

When you die, your legacy with your heirs will include more than just your tangible assets. They will have learned from your values, shared experiences and your spiritual wisdom. Rather than just hoping all this will have meant something, why not be purposeful about what gets carried down the generations? Consider a “Legacy Letter.”


Yes, You Need these Health Care Documents in Place. Now.

Liz Revenko / Dec 21, 2015 / Estate Planning / Insurance

We know the statistics: women are more likely to be single at the end of their lives. This is not a bad thing, as who doesn’t like control of the remote, but it can be scary.  A woman I know, an intelligent retiree with many friends, is divorced and lives alone. Her family members all live in other states. She has saved up an adequate nest egg for her retirement, but because she is on her own she is also aware she doesn’t have a job anymore or the safety net of a husband or kids, she sometimes gets scared. “What if I end up a bag lady” sounds funny when she says it, but she’s scared. Even more than that, though, with a family history of dementia she is terrified of slipping into Alzheimer’s with no one there to notice and or to help.   


Gifting to Children: Equal or Not?

Mosaic / Nov 6, 2015 / Estate Planning / Kids and Money

Over the past year, several clients have come to us with a query – is it right or fair to gift to one child who might be in need but not provide the same support to their other children? These clients might be in a situation where they can provide a certain level of gifting to one child from time to time but they don’t have enough to give similar gifts to all their children.


The Prenup: In Case Love Doesn’t Conquer All

Steve Branton / Jul 31, 2015 / Estate Planning / Couples and Money

The idea of a prenuptial agreement is distasteful for many couples, for understandable reasons: The last thing you want to think about when you’re in love is the possibility that it won’t last forever.


Recording Life’s Meaning—Making Use of an Ethical Will

Mosaic / Jun 12, 2015 / Estate Planning

What is an ethical will?

An ethical will is a non-legal document that bequeaths life’s lessons and values. Similar to a personal mission statement, the benefits of creating an ethical include: the opportunity to provide a treasured keepsake for one’s heirs, generating a greater understanding of self and often a sense of completion and renewed life purpose.


What is Portability?

Mosaic / Feb 16, 2015 / Estate Planning

Portability is a concept within estate planning that means that when one spouse dies, his or her applicable exclusion amount can be retained to shelter additional assets from estate taxes when the second spouse dies. Basically, it allows married couples to save money on estate taxes.


It’s Not Just About the Money! The Top 5 Reasons You Need an Estate Plan

Mosaic / Jan 15, 2015 / Estate Planning

An estate plan isn’t just about money, or the taxes, or the funeral arrangements. It’s about you, your family, and your wishes for all the assets you have worked so hard to build throughout your lifetime.

In 2015, the estate tax exemption is $5.43 Million per individual – that’s $10.86 Million that a married couple can pass to their heirs estate tax free. As a result, many clients have asked us, “Do we really need an estate plan?” While most American do not need an estate plan for the primary purpose of minimizing estate taxes – especially since these high exemption amounts the estate tax is expected to affect less than 0.12% of American households – a good estate plan is still a crucial part of your overall financial fitness. A good estate plan is not just about tax planning.


Preserving Family Wealth in a Changing Landscape

Mosaic / Jan 8, 2015 / Estate Planning

 There are often many key objectives for a well designed estate plan. These can include decisions about:

  • Who receives your property at your death
  • How your estate will be managed should you
    become incapacitated
  • How to address the needs of your beneficiaries
  • Questions of administration and privacy
  • How to manage or minimize taxes