1.) Income, 2.) security, 3.) investing and 4.) orderly settlement of our estate are the four main areas of our financial concerns. Although the Monday Morning Millionaire Program primarily deals with investing (money management), this Blog will deal with last of the four, namely, the orderly settlement of our estate, the ultimate result of the first three.
An internet search for “estate settlement” brings up close to 300,000 hits. There are twice as many for “income” and four times as many for “security” (insurance) and for “investing”. From these numbers, one could not tell that all four areas are equally important.
An economically comfortable friend died recently. He had not done any estate planning; no executor, no will, no lawyer, no funeral pre-planning, nothing to make it easier for his survivors to wrap up his affairs. He was 85! Both he and his wife were health nuts in the extreme but how long did he plan on living?
Another economically comfortable gentleman whom we greatly admired, a man of the same age, also died recently. His surviving family members spoke about how grateful they were that he had left his affairs in order.
Monday Morning Millionaire Program members (paid for access to premium content) and subscribers (unpaid followers) know that the second man should be our role model. So, what do we need to consider?
We need an executor (or more than one) to supervise the complicated process connected to an estate settlement including our terminal tax return, assets distribution, implementation of trusts, the celebration of life, funeral arrangements and more.
At the time of our death but not before, executors need to have power of attorney over our finances and our wills should state that. Concerns of competence and trust are uppermost here. The history of estate settlements is full of incidents of mistakes, fraud and abuse resulting in the need for heirs to take legal action. Less for heirs, more for lawyers.
Executors are compensated in line with the size of the estate and its jurisdiction. Each state and province has its own laws to compensate executors.
We need a lawyer who does estate planning to guide us through creating a will, setting up trusts if needed and other issues. Our executor(s) should be able to contact our lawyer at a moment’s notice.
Our executor(s) should similarly be able to contact our accountant to guide them through our terminal tax return.
Many are surprised by how easy this seemingly uncomfortable process can be, once we pick up a telephone to make an appointment with a funeral director. Funeral directors are trained to walk us through our choices and options comfortably. The pre-planning makes it unnecessary for our surviving loved ones to make decisions when they are grieving.
Communicating with our heirs
Our heirs need to know who our executors are and how to reach them. If we have everything in place as noted above, our surviving family members will be grateful that we left our affairs in order.