I’m once again spending my morning scattershooting around news in the tax industry, while simultaneously preparing for a sure-to-be-busier tax season (thanks for all the recent referrals — keep ’em coming!) AND navigating the perils of another holiday season … well, it means one busy Valerie McLaughlin!
Seriously, we’re getting excited about what is our most intense season of the year — TAX time. This year, with all of the ACA confusion, we are already fielding a ton of questions, not to mention queries about the raft of tax credits disappearing on 12-31-13.
So in between cookies and eggnog, we’re boning up on all of the official tax law changes, and we’re meeting with clients for last-minute tax planning.
[Which, based on what we’re seeing in our meetings, could be a VERY good idea for you too, Christy. Give us a call: (410) 224-2600 ]
But it also reminds me, as we prepare to meet with hundreds of our clients, that “tax time” is the perfect time for you to get other, long-delayed financial tasks accomplished. One of these is the dreaded estate plan. This is something which every family should have in place, and so I’ve got some further thoughts on that for you in this week’s Note…
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note
Why You Need An Estate Plan NOW
“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.” -Harold Geneen
Most of us spend a considerable amount of time and energy in our lives working for our families and accumulating wealth.
But unless you’re careful, all of it will be going to waste.
That’s why a well-crafted estate plan is so critical. It ensures that your hard-earned wealth (including intangible, non-financial assets) can pass intact to those you intend to be your beneficiaries, instead of being siphoned off to government processes and bureaucrats, or even being lost. We all dislike handing over our resources to those who don’t have our best interests in mind.
A well-made estate plan guarantees that this will NEVER happen to your family.
“But Valerie, what happens if I don’t create an estate plan? Doesn’t the judicial system have easy steps in place for families?”
Yep, and it’s called “probate” (Latin for “prove the will”), and it’s an ugly process.
You see, “probate” guarantees government interference in how you transfer your estate (however large or small). Documents must be filed, and approval must be received from a court to pay your bills, pay your spouse an allowance, and account for your property. Oh, and even worse — it all takes place in the public’s view.
If you fail to plan your estate, not only do you lose the opportunity to protect your family from an impersonal, complex governmental process (that is a burden at best), but it’s slapped across the public domain for all to see.
Then, of course … there’s taxes. You think the government is incentivized to keep those low on your behalf? There’s a variety of solutions for each family’s particular situation, but the plain fact is that working without a plan is U-G-L-Y no matter how you slice it.
When it comes right down to it, planning is a gift for your family (the people you love most), because if you don’t take care of things while you are living and able, they’ll have a mess to clean up when you’re gone.
Even more, if you have children, you want to establish the proper (legal) procedure for ensuring they’re taken care of properly.
So if these issues are important to you (and I believe they are), make your tax preparation appointment with us count twice, and we can set you up with information about how to get the estate planning process started right.
To your family’s lasting financial and emotional peace, Christy…