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Estate Planning

How to Appoint a Fiduciary

| By: Kira Kauffman

Fiduciaries can be appointed to serve you in a variety of ways. Three of the most common roles of a fiduciary include acting as an Agent or Attorney-in-Fact in financial or health-related matters during your lifetime, as the executor of your estate once you pass, or as a trustee. When preparing your estate plan, you may find that there is one person best suited and willing to serve as your fiduciary in all of these roles, or, more commonly, you may choose to appoint different individuals for your various fiduciary needs, according to their giftings and the dynamics of your family. When appointing a fiduciary, it is often wise to consider a “successor,” or back-up person, in case, for whatever reason, your first choice is unable to act when the time comes. The names and structure by which you choose to appoint your fiduciary can be identified in the corresponding formal document drawn up for this purpose.

What is a Fiduciary?

| By: Kira Kauffman

What happens in the event of your death or incapacity? Or, perhaps more importantly, who is carrying out your plan? What should this person do? What if the doctors are saying that all hope is lost and you should be taken off of life support? Have you effectively communicated your wishes? What type of person is well suited to balance your care with your goals and objectives? A person designated to “step into your shoes” and act when you can’t is known as a fiduciary. Essentially, a fiduciary is a person (or organization) acting on behalf of another person, putting his/her own interests behind that of the person being served, and being bound by the duties of good faith and trust. When choosing a fiduciary, there are three key characteristics to consider. In order of importance, the first key is values. It is essential that your fiduciary share your values. When the rubber meets the road, you want to know that the person you select will land on a decision the same way you would. Next to values, it is important to have a fiduciary that possess some degree of knowledge. Although the vast majority of fiduciary functions can be outsourced to other professionals, having a fiduciary that shares your values and has a sound head on his/her shoulders is ideal. Lastly is proximity. In today’s day and age, being “there” is not nearly as important as it once was. That said, having a fiduciary that embodies all three of these key characteristics makes for a great pick!

What is a Legacy Plan?

| By: Kira Kauffman

Estate planning is commonly defined as the preparation of structures that serve to manage an individual’s asset base in the event of incapacitation or death. Having an estate plan is essential and as you consider crafting your own, you would be wise to consider how your estate fits into your overall legacy. As previously discussed, your legacy (and your legacy plan) represents more than just your “stuff.” How will you be remembered, when you no longer have a pulse? What will that fingerprint that you leave behind look like? You will, undoubtedly, need to ensure clear communication of those things important to you, but you must also guard against two other challenges to leaving a lasting legacy: taxes and long-term illness. Planning for the challenges that each of us faces in today’s world is the best way to give you, your family and the charities you support a “leg up” on the multitude of factors that can ravage your estate and your entire legacy.

Everything Starts with Communication: Why Have a Legacy Plan?

| By: Kira Kauffman

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.” -George Bernard Shaw. Perhaps more truer words have never been spoken when it comes to intrafamily discussion surrounding financial and estate planning.  In fact, a lack of communication is regarded by most as the single biggest challenge to leaving a lasting legacy.  Your legacy is much more than just your “stuff,” of course.  In large part, your legacy is the fingerprint you leave behind for future generations: your values, your time-honored traditions, as well as words of wisdom, perhaps, that you have yet to say in person, just to name a few.  Part of your legacy does, however, involve the way in which you set your loved ones up for success after you are gone. In order to leave a lasting legacy, you have to start with adequate communication.  Adequate communication, for most, begins with the completion of your estate planning documents: Powers of Attorney, Wills and, perhaps, Trusts.  If you don’t take the time to communicate your wishes with regard to your “stuff,” the likelihood of your fingerprint surviving you after death is slim.  In this blog series, we will explore several of the key communication devices in estate and legacy planning, as well as how to navigate the pitfalls that exist in each.