Planning Potpourri

Estate Identity Theft: Crooks steal live people's identities, why not steak a decedent's identity? The executor would have to fight the theft no different than you would have to address a similar problem. Precautions: Change locks on any empty house or apartment, install an alarm in any now empty home, and cancel all credit cards (not just cut them up).

Powers of Attorney and Chronic Illness: If you have a chronic illness that could result in unexpected short term hospital stays potentially several times a year, consider a second power of attorney. This might be appropriate for someone with ulcerative colitis, or multiple sclerosis, which triggers exacerbations. Consider a limited power of attorney, effective immediately, with no springing provision. A springing provision only permits your agent to act if you are disabled. This will undermine the agent's ability to act quickly in repeated hospitalizations or attacks. A limited power restricts the agent's rights to those matters that might need addressing during a short term hospitalization or exacerbation. No power should be given to make gifts, change beneficiary designations, etc.

Foreign Move: If you permanently move overseas review any tax treaties between the U.S. and your new home country. Obtain a new will governing property in the foreign country and coordinate your US and foreign wills.

No Fiduciaries: What if you have no one to name? Will - Name a bank or trust company if you don't have individuals you feel comfortable naming or that live local enough to handle matters. Power of attorney - If you really don't have someone that is appropriate, set up a revocable living trust, fund it with all of your assets, and name a bank or trust company as a trustee. Health proxy - if you have no one to name, focus on a comprehensive living will as a statement of your health care wishes. This is problematic in states that don't recognize living wills, but it's a lot better than doing nothing.

529 Plan Options: If you're wealthy you might benefit your family more if, as part of an overall financial, asset protection and estate planning strategy you establish trusts for your children and grandchildren to which you can gift interests in family businesses or investments at a discount, fractionalize ownership of family entities by these gifts, remove future appreciation from your estate, and achieve other goals. You can, at these levels, always pay for tuition costs directly over and above the annual gifts you can make to the trusts (currently $12,000/year).

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