I recently had a client explain that they wanted a trust because Suze Orman said that everyone needed a trust. Now, in general, trusts meet many needs, and are often a good idea. Especially if there are minor children, adult children who might do better with structured payments, or long term care planning concerns, trusts can fill a valuable need. However, just as not everyone NEEDS a prenuptial agreement, not everyone needs a trust.
Trusts help you avoid much of the probate process, but there are other ways to do this, too. If your assets are jointly held with your spouse, and one of you dies, the assets will go “by operation of law” to your spouse without going through probate. In a similar way, anything with a beneficiary designation (life insurance, annuities, most retirement accounts) will go to that beneficiary directly. The probate court will oversee any assets that pass through your will, and sometimes this can be a good thing. It does take time to probate an estate, but if the assets are fairly limited, the cost of setting up a trust may not be appropriate.
Regardless of whether you do or do not need a trust, please call an advisor you trust before you make important estate planning decisions, I know that you aren’t cookie cutter clients, why should you have a cookie cutter estate plan?
I want to re-finance my house, consolidate all those little IRAs and 401k’s from old jobs, get a new passport, make a will…What’s the common denominator? When you start on any of these tasks, you need to be able to put your hands on paperwork, sometimes LOTS of paperwork. Do you know where your birth certificate, bank statements, investment statements for the last three months are? And I mean you can hand them to someone easily, not that you’re sure that they are in the big pile over there.
Or, could you tell someone else where to find your life insurance policy, homeowner’s policy, or auto insurance policy if you were away on vacation and you needed to file a claim?
Join us for a complimentary seminar on May 26th, 2011 at 5 pm at the Cape Ann Savings Bank in Gloucester. Gail Ramos, Senior Trust Officer at the
Cape Ann Savings Bank and I will talk about getting a grip on organizing some of that paperwork…Networking from 5 to 5:30 and the program will go from 5:30 – 6:30.
Pet Round UP: Dogs on the Beach, Dogs in your Will.
The Manchester-by-the-Sea Town Meeting is April 4 and 5, 2011. One warrant item will be whether or not to further restrict dogs on Singing Beach. Did you know that if you vote on the issue that concerns you, and leave the meeting, that the warrant can later be amended and a vote re-taken? If there is a subject of interest to you on the warrant, be ready to stay for the entire meeting.
On another pet related note, Massachusetts just became the latest state to pass PET TRUST LEGISLATION. We now have a statute that allows you to leave a sum of money specifically for the care of your animal when you die. Thank you to Bruce Tarr for co-sponsoring this legislation. More info can be found here: Pet Trust article
Do you have a great pet sitter, vet, groomer, or pet trainer that you’d like to recommend? Please send along their info, and I’ll do a listing in the next Pet Round UP.
P.S. Manchester residents: Dog licenses need to be obtained from Town Hall by March 31st.