Going on vacation is not always easy, especially for Americans, who statistically take less vacation days than do workers in many other countries. Sometimes, returning from a vacation – getting back into one’s daily routine at home and at work – can be just as stressful.
Jack found this to be true. Every time Jack went out of town on vacation or a business trip, he worried about what was happening at the office, or with his family. Jack worried so much that it affected the quality of his sleep. For someone with Jack’s medical history, so much worry and lack of sleep was serious. Jack’s dad was on a business trip when he suddenly passed away, leaving a real legal mess for his loved ones. And now, Jack found himself in a hotel room, at night, staring at the ceiling and worrying about what would happen to his wife and children if he suffered his father’s fate. Did he have enough financial protection? Was that estate plan he created 5 years ago, before little Emily was born, still good enough?
This was to be one more sleepless night for Jack, but it would be his last. Jack was about to learn how to sleep like a baby, even while on vacation.
How did he do it? The next morning, fate intervened. While having coffee in the hotel lobby, Jack met Dave, an estate planning attorney, who shared some very vital information that would save Jack’s sanity.
Life Insurance Trust
Dave explained to Jack that a life insurance trust would provide greater control over his insurance policies. A life insurance trust can reduce or even eliminate estate taxes, leaving more of his estate to his loved ones. The life insurance trust owns the insurance policies for you, and the proceeds are not subject to probate, income taxes, or estate taxes, thereby reducing your taxes.
Making a Will That Includes Guardianship
Dave was surprised to hear that Jack did not have a current Will. Making a Will is the first and vital step in any estate plan designed to protect one’s financial welfare and family future. While chatting about Will creation, Dave learned that Jack had three children – one with special needs – and so he suggested that Jack’s Will include a guardianship clause. Dave explained that, in most states, parents are automatically considered guardians of their children, with the authority to make decisions related to the child’s welfare. At age 18, however, this authority ceases. At this time, the parent, must determine if their child needs a guardian, who will be appointed as the child’s guardian, and just how much authority that individual will hold. Generally speaking, the court will appoint a guardian for an individual who is incapacitated. When drafting a Will with guardianship, it is important to name the chosen guardian in writing, so as to show the parent’s preference to the courts; designate a 2nd choice, if the parent’s 1st choice cannot serve as guardian; and prepare a letter of intent as a form of guidance for the guardian.
Finally, Dave made it a point to let Jack know that these matters are complex and require the assistance of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney. No family would want to or should try to go it alone when it comes to estate planning.
In St. Louis, attorney Brian Quinn can help you in these and other estate planning matters.