Mary Owens: Estate planning from the heart | TheUnion.com

Mary Owens: Estate planning from the heart

Mary Owens
Columnist

For years now I have been outlining a series of books on estate planning and related life issues that will impact us all someday.

I intended to publish them when I retire, but as time passes, I have discovered two things that have changed my time frame.

First, I realize I have no real desire to retire anytime soon since I enjoy my work so much. And secondly, I have so many clients seeking advice in this area that I have been encouraged to start publishing these thoughts now.

Going forward

With that being said, I am going to redirect some of my articles in the past, which focused on the Nevada County economic community, and mix it up a bit.

I will still occasionally write about the business environment when major issues are important for me to communicate. I love this community, so I can't give up writing about it entirely.

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My heart simply cannot tolerate that absence; however the next series of articles are important to safeguard the lives that live within it.

To give you an idea of what the focus of my column will be for the future, I will be discussing issues and will be giving examples of the following "life issues" that impact the vast majority of us.

They will include subjects such as:

What are some factors I should consider when picking a "successor trustee" for my estate?

What options are available to me when I leave an estate to a young person or someone who has the potential to spend thrift?

What are the benefits of having a trust versus a will?

How do I protect my elderly parent from unsavory individuals that may be coming into their home to safeguard their financial affairs as they get older and need more assistance?

Why do I need a durable power of attorney?

Why do I need a health care medical directive and who should I chose to fulfill that role?

What should I be compiling in advance for my children in case of a medical emergency?

What financial records should I be keeping and for how long?

My spouse has just passed away. What do I need to do right now and what can wait until I can emotionally recover?

My spouse may need skilled nursing care in the future. How can I prepare and protect myself for this potentially life changing event?

We have had some major changes in our lives. Should my trust or will be updated or amended?

Should I put the title to my house into my child's name?

My trust requires me to split the estate into two trusts at the first dead. Is that really necessary or required?

Preparing for the future

Some of these topics will not be uplifting items to discuss. I want to encourage you to learn from them and most importantly, to prepare.

Preparing for the future now will enormously reduce future stress if a sudden major event emotionally takes the legs out from under you.

Those that are educated and prepared are far better off coping if their affairs are in order when a major crisis strikes.

I served as a professional trustee for over 25 years. During those years I witnessed the expected, the unexpected, and the extraordinary.

Those families that were prepared faired the best. Those that were not prepared many times faced uphill battles and experienced unnecessary stress and heart ache.

My future articles will be discussing the situations I have experienced first-hand. I want you to understand what went wrong and why so you are not unwittingly exposed to the same frustrations and worry.

I also want to encourage you to write to me if you have questions. Please understand I cannot give legal advice or tax advice in these articles, but I can direct you to methods and safeguards that might assist you.

And as always, consult your professional team for implementation of all legal and tax issues.

So with that, we will begin next month with the first topic of "What are factors I should consider when picking a "successor trustee" for my estate?"

I will end this article with a little bit of advice.

If your child balances their checkbook by closing out their checking account at their bank and opens a new one in order to figure out what was left in the old one … you may want to consider someone else as your successor trustee.

Mary Owens, CPA, MS, Principal, President of Investments, Branch Manager RJFS with Owens Estate and Wealth Strategies Group, located at 426 Sutton Way Suite 110 Grass Valley, CA 95945 | 530-272-7500. Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Owens Estate and Wealth Strategies Group is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services. The information provided does not purport to be a complete description of the developments referred to in this material, it has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable but we do not guarantee that it is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Mary Owens and are not necessarily those of Raymond James.

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