Workshops

It’s Your Estate


The “It’s Your Estate” sessions cover all the legal documents you will need to set up an estate plan using a variety of local Orange County estate planning attorneys as instructors. We provide 12 hours of objective education over an 8 week period, 1 ½ hours per week. Each attorney explains their fees in detail and they do not receive your contact information. Click HERE to find your workshop community.

Week 1: Intro


This session gives you an overview of the course through the “It’s Your Estate” Quiz. Introduced is the value of the “ASK FIRST” form that should be filled out by any professional you plan to engage. The “ASK FIRST” form takes the professional two minutes to complete and it will give you the consumer an indication of the professional’s education, licenses (licensing is a minimum standard and not a credential), how the person charges, how they are compensated, and if they are involved in product sales. In other words, it gives you more information than just he or she is a “nice” person.


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 1 - Intro and Personal Assessment



Week 2: Estate Planning Basics


In this session we discuss the importance of knowing what you have and how it is titled. Title determines if an asset will go through probate. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Probate, types of wills and intestate succession. On an organizer or yellow pad we recommend you list all your assets including title, cost basis and market value. With this list you will be able to determine your taxable estate (total value of your estate less liabilities), your probate estate and your IRD (income in respect of the decedent estate such IRA, 401K, etc.)


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 2 - Estate Planning Basics



Week 3: Planning for Incapacity


Our third session is a discussion of a Conservatorship, Durable Power of Attorney (DPA) and the Advance Health Care Directive (AHCD). It is my belief that this session is the most important because it is about your health and who will make decisions for you when you cannot. It motivates you to think about hospice care, quality of life issues, pain and burial preferences and much, much more. We highly recommend you look at ordering the “Your Way” booklet (2 free booklets per household — do recommend you make a donation) from the H.E.L.P. organization – http://www.help4srs.org/publications/yourway

The DPA is an often abused document. The conservatorship is something to avoid. Avoidance is usually feasible if you have all your estate planning documents in order.

The Conversation Project

www.theconversationproject.org

*FEEL is not connected to the conversation project
*The following purpose statement originates from their website

Purpose

The Conversation Project is dedicated to helping people talk about their wishes for end-of-life care.
Too many people are dying in a way they wouldn’t choose, and too many of their loved ones are left feeling bereaved, guilty, and uncertain. It’s time to transform our culture so we shift from not talking about dying to talking about it. It’s time to share the way we want to live at the end of our lives. And it’s time to communicate about the kind of care we want and don’t want for ourselves. We believe that the place for this to begin is at the kitchen table—not in the intensive care unit—with the people we love, before it’s too late. Together we can make these difficult conversations easier. We can make sure that our own wishes and those of our loved ones are expressed and respected. If you’re ready to join us, we ask you: Have you had the conversation?


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 3 - Advance Health Care Directive; Conservatorship, and Power of Attorney



Week 4: Living Trust and Beyond


The advanced estate planning workshop begins a discussion of using a Living Trust. Many think the most important aspect of a Living Trust is that you avoid probate. This is true but where are you when your estate does not have to go through probate? It would seem this would be a greater benefit to your children and maybe you should ask if they would be willing to pay for the legal services to have one drafted for you!

This session starts to focus on your taxable estate and how you can avoid the estate and gift taxes.


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 4 - Living Trust and Beyond



Week 5: Charitable Income and Tax Planning Basics


In the Charitable Income & Tax Planning Issues session we discuss Community Foundations, Private Family Foundations, Charitable Gift Annuities and Charitable Remainder Trust. Charitable tools work well with someone who has low basis assets (highly appreciated) and needs more income.


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 5 - Charitable Income and Tax Planning Basics



Week 6: IRA & Retirement Plan Distributions


IRA, 401K, 403b and 457 Plans are assets that have unique tax rules called “Income in Respect of the Decedent (IRD)” to the beneficiary(s) of your plan. Whatever you distribute is subject to Arizona income tax and Federal income tax and it is taxed at the person’s effective tax rate for that tax year.

There are many opportunities for planning with IRD assets however most beneficiaries spend this money no matter the value within 18 months. The only beneficiary entity that does not have to pay an income tax is a charitable organization. Therefore, if you want to give to a charity in a tax wise manner, make the charity(s) a beneficiary of a commercial annuity or an IRA. You can also name a charity and have the charity give your son or daughter a charitable gift annuity for the rest of their lives and upon their death(s) the charity can use the money.


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 6 - IRA and Retirement Plan Distributions



Week 7: Role of Trustee and Executor


In the previous sessions we discussed the legal documents needed to have a good estate plan. In this session we discuss the people you will need to carry out your estate plan. Theoretically you could have 3 different people for each document (12 individuals.) For example, in your Will you could name your Executor and two successor Executors in the event the person named as primary is not able or does not want to serve as Executor. This scenario is the same for your Durable Power of Attorney for Finances and your Advanced Health Care Directive – your primary agent and at least two successor agents (definitely recommend at least two successor agents.) For your Living Trust we recommend two successor trustees. For your Living Trust give your successor trustee (trust them enough to be your trustee) the power to name a successor trustee (called a Power of Appointment).

The folks you name in these positions are taking on the highest liability under the law – called Fiduciary Liability. Simply stated, these named individuals must serve “in your best interest” else they will be held liable for acts committed not meeting this fiduciary standard.

A major issue that is often overlooked in selecting the appropriate person or institution to act as your fiduciary is that we think they will only serve when you are deceased. However, we believe you should think about their qualifications (talent, communication ability, patience, time, willingness, trustworthiness, etc.) if they were to serve while you are alive. Whomever you selectwill have total control over your finances and health care. If you have dementia, major illness or just old age the person will determine where you live, what you eat and who is caring for you. We recommend you do not name a co-trustee or co-agent because too many decisions need to be made and in a co-relationship both have to agree and are totally liable for the other person’s acts. Determine all the things that need to happen. Then have conversations with the people you have selected or are about to select.

Institutions that serve in a fiduciary capacity are called Trust Companies. All trust companies are not the same and have different corporate cultures just as individuals. Be sure to ask for their present fee schedule and meet with them while you are in good health.

On the individual fiduciary side we have professionally licensed fiduciaries. Remember licensing means the person met the minimum qualification (not a credential) in order to practice as a professional fiduciary and please ask for their fee schedule.

CPA’s, attorneys and other professionals can serve as a fiduciary but be sure to check potential conflict of interests, fees and experience as a fiduciary.

Good old fashion trust is required whether picking a family member (most common), licensed professional or trust company. Please remember that the fiduciary it is not a position of honor. It sometimes requires a lot of work and effort (may want to consider paying a family member) and, depending on your family, a lot of diplomacy!


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 7 - The Role of a Trustee and Executor



Week 8: Case Study and Review


In this final session we will review what we have learned and apply it to real life situations. It is my belief the legal documents are the easiest part of your estate plan and the most difficult part is our family or personal situation. What happens if I have no children? Or I have a spendthrift beneficiary? Or I have a Special Needs situation? Or I have multiple marriages and families? And the list goes on.

We do group CASE STUDIES from facts given by actual attendees of the workshop who completed the Personal Planning Survey. Using an anonymous name, the attendees submit the survey prior to week seven of the workshops. We discuss the financial and estate plan issues from these real life situations and give suggestions as to how they may be addressed.
What becomes clear is that most individuals have never thought about their goals and objectives or have an understanding of their net worth or know how they have title to all of their assets. The survey should be able to assist you. You may want to complete the questionnaire for yourself and discuss with your successor fiduciary, fee only financial advisor and estate planning attorney.

And remember your estate plan is not set in concrete. As the law changes, family circumstances change or as you get older you may want to amend or modify your estate plan. We recommend review every 2 to 5 years. It is easy to do. Not having the proper legal documents subjects you to possible conservatorship and family issues. A lot of money will exchange hands and whenever money is involved there can be problems.

A final note: Please write a letter (not to be opened until your death) to your children and friends you love and leave it with your estate documents. None of the legal documents use the word “love” and having a letter to read with your estate documents may alleviate many problems. If you want an obituary you may want to write your own as well. We only die once!


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  • It's Your Estate - Week 8 - Case Study & Review



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