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Consolidate your assets to simplify estate planning

| March 30, 2018
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Many of our best referrals come from estate planning attorneys. Why? Here’s a story to illustrate:

 

John and Mary have worked hard and saved all their lives. He worked for the same company for 30 years and has a good pension. Mary stayed at home to raise their three children. She knows they are comfortable but doesn’t really know what they own or where it is held. John, on the other hand, managed the family finances and never met a savings vehicle he didn’t like. He has IRAs, annuities, brokerage accounts, bank accounts and life insurance policies all over the place. John and Mary created a trust several years ago but never got around to putting their assets into the trust.

 

What happens when John dies? Mary has to hunt down all of those assets, figure out who owns them and who the beneficiaries are. Because they never put the assets into the trust and some of the accounts were in John’s name only, Mary has to go through a court-supervised probate process to administer her deceased husband's estate. What if Mary never gets around to settling the details of John’s estate and then she dies? The kids are left with a hot, stinking mess. I’ve seen it happen many times and estate planning attorneys have, too.

 

So here’s how the referral phone call goes:

 

“Brian, I just met with John and Mary, my new clients. They recently moved here to be closer to their kids. We’ve just updated their living trust but we could really use your help. Could you sit down with John and Mary and help them consolidate their assets in one place? Can you find out whether all these stock certificates are actually worth anything? Can you make sure their non-retirement accounts are titled in the name of the trust? Can you make sure that the beneficiaries on their retirement accounts, annuities and life insurance policies line up with their estate plan?”

 

Well yes, of course we can. We’re currently helping a client with 23 separate financial accounts. 23! Can you imagine being the oldest child tapped to settle their estate? You’ve got a busy career, a son in college and a daughter still at home, and now you have to hunt down 23 different accounts left behind by your deceased parents? Yikes!

 

Our goal is that the executor of the estate will need to make only three phone calls – to the estate planning attorney, the accountant and to us – their parents’ financial advisor. We’ll be able to provide the executor with a list of assets and how they’re titled. We’ll process the beneficiary paperwork. We’ll work with the estate planning attorney to make sure assets are distributed properly, and we’ll work with the heirs to outline smart choices for the assets they inherit.

 

By the way, consolidation helps even more if you DON’T have a trust. You’ll still want to take inventory of your assets and make sure they are properly titled with appropriate beneficiary designations.  

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Securities offered through LPL Financial, Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through Sherpa Wealth Strategies, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor and separate entity from LPL Financial. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

 

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