Estate Planning does not have to be a scary word anymore.
When you hear “estate planning” you may be thinking of what a millionaire will do with their home and what they will do with all their money when they pass. This is something that Margaret Karl, estate planner and elder law professional of 13 years, gets all the time and she explains why that is not the case. “They have the misconception that if I don’t have millions or a lot wealth then I don’t need to be concerned about it”. She adds that “Things like power of attorney, living wills, designating your wishes. Who is going to take care of my stuff if I can’t, who is going to pay the electric bill if I can’t or who will talk to the doctor. Those are all things people need to be concerned about.”
Margaret lists a few life events that make people a little bit more proactive in their own planning. These events include an illness, either to yourself or a spouse, death of a family member, or having children. Margaret says that “those are the most common things that I see happen that draw people in to sit and talk about things.”
Not Planning Ahead
Our conversation leads into what could go wrong if something happened and the person has not planned anything. She explains, “Some of the things that can go wrong, regardless of how much or how little money they have, people don’t have beneficiaries on accounts like life insurance or IRA’s, they never updated them. Those are very simple things that cost no money to update that help pass money along, but it gets forgotten.” Margaret encourages people to take out documents like wills, life insurance, IRA’s and review them every couple of years just to make sure the information on them is current.
There are a number of cases where people do plan ahead though, and are able to be prepared for life events. A client's son, explains Margaret, “had been put on permanent disability, and every program for disability provides a max on how much income and assets a person can have. We made some modifications so when the time came and his dad passed away, the money would be put in a trust in order to provide for him.” She says that in a case where they had not met, the money would be paid directly to the son and would have caused some major conflicts with his benefits he would be receiving from disability.
Knowing When to Get Started
Sometimes it might be difficult to tell if you need to sit and talk with an estate planner, it is not something most of us think about very often. Margaret offers advice on when is the right time to sit and talk with a professional. “If you have never done any kind of planning, if you have no will, no power of attorneys, nothing, or if it has been more than four or five years since you have even looked at anything. The other reason would, like we discussed earlier, if you had something happened, somebody passed away or life changing event, certainly we want to speak during those times.”
Many people tend to put things like this off because they think they need to know everything and have all kinds of paperwork prepared. Margaret explains that is not the case and this a process that can go as slowly or quickly as you need it to. Don’t be intimidated if you don’t know what to do. Margaret offers a free consultation as well as free seminars where you can learn more about estate planning.
To speak with Margaret you can visit her site www.BereaOhioLaw.com to email her or find out if she is hosting a seminar near you. You can also call her at 440-973-4145 or her toll free number at 850-560-6062. Margaret truly cares about her clients and gets to know them so she can help in the best way possible.