Hope for the Best, but Always Be Prepared

No one expects the worst, but the fact is that none of us knows when and where catastrophe may strike. It is important to be ready for anything, and part of that preparation involves making your wishes known to your family and protecting their interests as well. Have you been putting off these decisions?

Now is the best time to consider your estate plans. And it is never too soon to make an appointment with an attorney to create or update a will. If you are ready to take these steps, the following questions will help you prepare for your visit. Thinking about these things before meeting with an attorney could save you time and money.

  1. What? This first question addresses your assets and liabilities. What do you own and what do you owe? Make a list of real estate, vehicles, collectibles, bank and brokerage accounts, insurance policies — everything you have. Estimate the current value. Also, list all of your financial obligations. This inventory will help your attorney immensely.
  2. Who? Decide beforehand who you want to settle your estate when you are gone. This personal representative should be someone you consider fully trustworthy. If you will need guardians for your dependent children, select those as well. And what about one or more trustees to oversee any trusts you may have? In addition to these people, try to come up with backup names just in case any of your primary choices cannot serve. Also, be sure to ask all of these persons before including them in your will.
  3. Where? This can be the most difficult part of planning your estate. Where will you transfer your assets? A surviving spouse will likely receive all or part of your assets. Family members may be beneficiaries as well. And you may want to consider an estate gift to those organizations you have supported during life, organizations like Saint Leo University that reflect your interests and values.

There are other things to think about as well … and one of the advantages of meeting with an estate-planning attorney is that he or she can bring up important questions that you might not otherwise consider. A good advisor can also introduce transfer techniques like family trusts and can make sure your will conforms to the laws of your state.

If you do not have an estate-planning attorney, ask your trusted friends for suggestions. You might also ask the trust officer at a local bank for recommendations. The important thing is to act on your impulses to put your house in order. It may take a little effort, but the end result — peace of mind — is well worth it.

By naming Saint Leo University as a beneficiary in your will or estate plan, you can make an impact on student and university success for years to come. Every year, students receive scholarships from funds set up by donors like you who want to leave a lasting impact.

 

Is Saint Leo University a part of your estate? Contact Stephen Kubasek, director of Planned Giving, at (352) 588-8355 or stephen.kubasek@saintleo.edu if you would like to include a gift to Saint Leo University in your estate plan.

 
The information on this website is not intended as legal or tax advice. For such advice, please consult an attorney or tax advisor. Figures cited in examples are for hypothetical purposes only and are subject to change. References to estate and income taxes include federal taxes only. State income/estate taxes or state law may impact your results.