By: Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, MBA, JD
Title – How You Own Assets
Money Matters Radio – Estate Planning Checklist
Introduction/Overview: How you own assets is key to planning.
Consider the following items?
√ Joint Accounts: Do a revocable trust as you age. Don’t just title all accounts as joint with the kids. Joint accounts will almost always assure that monies won’t be divided as you wish on death since you cannot predict which accounts what will be spent from. That’s always good for a family fight. If you child is sued, divorced or dies first, your simple joint account approach will assure a battle with the claimant, ex-spouse or IRS as to who really owned the account. Plan smart.
√ Bank Teller Does your Planning: You’ve changed investment advisers/brokers and banks in light of lousy performance (supposedly 70% of investors have done this in the past year) but in the move all the accounts that were carefully titled by your estate planner to conform with your plan morph into joint ownership circumventing your will and undermining all your planning. That’s not OK! Don’t rely on the clerk at the new bank or brokerage firm to make these determinations. Plan smart.
√ Don’t Unduly Rely on a Safe Deposit Box: If you stuff everything important in a safe deposit box that will you increase the chance of needing court proceeding to access the will and other key documents. That will maximize stress and probate costs. Better approach: don’t put your living will, health proxy or power of attorney in your safe deposit box. Make sure all documents relating to decisions concerning end of life and funeral will have to be made are accessible. Keep a detailed list of what is in your box.
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