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Estate Planning

From estate planning basics to your toughest questions, our estate planning checklists and guides are here to help you.
Recent Estate Planning Articles

Life Planning: Making a Great Ending

June 14th, 2013

Planning for the end is such a curious concept. So many of us worry about the life we are living and yet neglect to plan for that time when it will become more and more difficult to suck the marrow from our existence. They say it’s not the pace of life that gets you, it’s the sudden stop at the end. That line may be good for a chuckle, but for the majority of us, it’s just not true.

The End of Life

Life does not naturally careen forward only to stop abruptly. The reality is more akin to a car running out of gas. It’s running along just fine, engine purring, and then you begin to notice a few hiccups. The engine is still running, but it’s not doing everything it normally does. Something is missing, the engine struggles, causing the entire frame to jerk violently as it pulls and stops, pulls and stops. Eventually it quits, but even though the driving force propelling the car forward has stopped its thrust, the car hasn’t stopped forward momentum. It’s still moving. Steadily decelerating, yes, but moving until, finally, it coasts to a slow and laborious stop.

For most of us, on the day we die, our bodies will not be functioning as they did in our twenties. They will have broken down, ceased to function properly and yet still be pushing us forward. But that doesn’t mean we are destined to merely endure the end. It is possible to have happy and fulfilling final years; it just takes a little work.

Making a Good End

Judy MacDonald Johnston recently gave a brief talk outlining the basic steps required for ensuring a good end of life. The video is available for you to view below, and I’ve attached a short outline beneath it:


Judy MacDonald Johnston Prepare for a Good End of Life

Summary

  •  Make a Plan – You need to realize that your body is going to break down, possibly your mind as well. It is important that you plan for those events to take place so that when they happen your wishes are not only known but possible.
  • Advocates – These are people who will ensure your plan happens and be with you every step of the way. These need to be people that have the time to devote to seeing this through. Relying on your children may not work, so don’t just hold onto an expectation without discussing it thoroughly with them.
  •  Hospital Readiness – You need a brightly colored envelope which holds: a one page summary of your medical history, what meds you are currently on, and your physician’s information. It should contain a copy of your insurance card, power of attorney and do not resuscitate as well as any other pertinent legal documentation. This will expedite your admittance.
  • Choose Caregivers - Whether a senior care facility or at-home care, you need to make this decision ahead of time. Do not settle. These are the people that will be caring for you in your final days; make sure they are the right people.
  • Last Words – Not what you want to say, but what you want to hear. What reassurances do you need about the people or things you’re leaving behind? If you’ve made a plan, all of those important things should be handled, but you may need or want reassurance when your time nears.

If you are looking for more information on this topic, you can visit Judy MacDonald Johnston’s website Good End Of Life here.

Approaching the end of your life can be a beautiful time. It should provide an opportunity to find even more love and happiness, not be a trial you have to struggle through alone. With a little forethought, at the end of your life you can still have a fulfilling life.

What You Need To Know When Selecting An Estate Planner

April 23rd, 2012

At some point, everyone is faced with the task of estate planning.  Although the thought and task seems overwhelming and confusing, estate planning is nothing more than an orderly and defined plan of distributing one’s assets following their death.  For many knowing where to begin their estate planning efforts is confusing.

Estate Planning Interview with Mark Bosler of the Bosler Law Office

FSN Funeral Homes understands the apprehension many people have when it comes to planning their estate and the need to involve a professional estate planner. So, we reached out to an authority in the estate planning industry – Bosler Law Office.  Mark Bosler was able to answer many of our estate planning questions. We hope this interview answers many of the questions you might have on estate planning and how to select a professional estate planner.

FSN Funeral Homes: First off, a lot of personal details go into estate planning and people want someone who is trusted and understanding. What should they look for when selecting a professional estate planner?

Mark Bosler: Clients should choose a professional estate planner for several reasons, including experience, expertise, and a genuine desire to help them understand the process and plan for the future.

FSN Funeral Homes: If someone was considering your firm for their estate planning needs, what do you have to offer that would make them choose Bosler Law Office?

Mark Bosler: With over 20 years of experience in working with clients to draft appropriate estate planning documents, we have worked with hundreds of clients and encountered many situations from which they may draw upon to provide comprehensive and effective estate planning and administration services for our ever-growing client base. With personalized assistance and attention to detail, we seek to provide each and everyone of our clients with vigorous goal-oriented advise and representation. We look forward to working with new clients every day to serve their needs so that they may look with confidence to the future.

FSN Funeral Homes: So you provide an in-depth evaluation of their individual needs and situation because estate planning isn’t something that can be done with a cookie-cutter approach. Since this is a very personal and situational endeavour, how should an estate planner assist their clients with the planning process?

Mark Bosler: First off, estate planning has to do with educating and advising clients on the practice and procedure of estate administration, and the legal documents necessary to carry out an effective plan. We assist our clients by educating and informing him or her on factors which could or would affect their person and estate going into the future, whether it be the need for treatment or medical care, retirement benefits and financial planning, relationships, taxes, estate distribution and other factors. Once we have identified and prioritized those factors which are of specific concern to our client, we will proceed to formulate a plan which will address those factors.

FSN Funeral Homes: So, estate planning is more than just giving your possessions away to friends or family. It is really about making sure that every aspects of your life is in order with a planned goal and priority in order to save your grieving family from the stress of it. That can be a very tall task. How do you actually take your clients throughout the planning process?

Mark Bosler: We start the process by reviewing our client’s current financial situation and relationships, determining and prioritizing their objectives, and presenting them with the tools and information needed to make decisions and implement their goals and objectives.

FSN Funeral Homes: Because every individual’s situation is different, the type of estate plan can run from a very basic nature to a more robust one. What is involved in a basic estate plan and how do you know if a more robust estate plan is needed?

Mark Bosler: A basic estate plan should include the preparation of a will that would direct the distribution of your estate and appoint necessary fiduciaries to administer that estate, a living will which would state or summarize your preferences regarding life support treatment, a Patient Advocate Designation and Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care with medical directives, and a General Durable Power of Attorney to allow estate administration upon disability. A more sophisticated estate plan may include Living Trusts, Testamentary trusts, Irrevocable Trusts, and other documents based upon the Client’s needs and objectives.

There are many details that go into estate planning. Therefore, you want a law office who will assist you and take care of you in every way possible, just like Bosler Law Office. Having someone who will walk you through the process with great ease and understanding is always essential.

FSN Funeral Homes thanks Mark Bosler of the Bosler Law Office in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan for all the great information about estate planning.

The key takeaways here are:

  1. Estate planning is very important and very personalized.
  2. What you need to plan your estate and how robust your estate plan needs to be is determined by your individual needs.
  3. Some parts of estate planning deal with issues and situations that occur prior to your death.
  4. Finding an estate planner that is knowledgeable and experienced in crucial.
  5. Communication and good information are very important when working with an estate planner. (To communicate more effectively with your estate planner review the Glossary of Estate and Probate Terminology provided by FSN Funeral Homes and fill out the Estate Planning Checklist to take with you.)

Hopefully with this information, estate planning won’t seem so overwhelming.

Estate Planning Glossary

July 14th, 2011

The terminology used in Estate Planning can be confusing if you are not familiar with the wording used.  Estate lawyers/attorneys are equipped to help through the process, but it is also a good idea to be well-informed before hand.

Glossary of Estate and Probate Terminology

A

Administration: The time when the personal representative collects the deceased assets, pays debt and distributes the estate as arranged in will.

Administrator: The personal representative (if there is a will). The person assigned by the court to distribute the deceased assets if there is no will. Also known as the executor/executrix.

Affidavit: Sworn/written statement constructed under oath with witnesses.

Annual Exclusion: The amount of gifts allowed annually to be given to family members free of federal taxes.

Asset Protection: The act of protecting your estate during your life and after death from any legal or tax problems.

Attorney In Fact: The person assigned as agent under power of  attorney.

B

Beneficiary: The person(s) who receives the benefit property/estate or trust.

Bequest: To leave a gift or property as noted in a will.

Continue reading “Estate Planning Glossary” »

Estate Lawyers: What to Expect

June 13th, 2011

Estate lawyers, also known as probate lawyers or attorneys, are responsible for taking the personal representative/executor of a will through the estate planning process. Which means that they are trained to walk you through every step of your estate planning.

Estate Lawyers are equipped to offer legal and educational support helping you to organize and legalize your estate distribution.

Why hire and estate attorney?

If you have a complex estate or family situation that requires detailed planning, hiring an estate attorney to help you is a good idea. A good estate lawyer can build your estate plan, as well as minimize potential taxes and fees, and set up a contingency plan to make sure that your assets are distributed to the correct beneficiaries.

Examples of complex estates and complicated family situations

  • Own your own business
  • Your estate is worth more than 1 million dollars
  • Have a special needs child

Continue reading “Estate Lawyers: What to Expect” »

10 Steps for Estate Planning

March 11th, 2011

Why is estate planning important?

When planning for our future, especially our family’s future, we often have specific instructions for how and where we want our possessions to be distributed on the occasion of our death. Each state has different regulations and rules about one’s assets after their death. If you do not prepare your own Estate Plan or Will, the government will decided how and to whom your possessions will be given. This is often a long, unfair and saddening process for family members who are already coping with the grief of losing a loved one. To avoid this you should begin by planning a distribution of your assets and belongings in a legal will.

Who needs estate planning or a legal will?

Whatever the circumstances and despite age, estate planning and a legal will is something we should all have prepared. However, knowing how to articulate our wishes or knowing what information is needed can be a difficult task.

Following this 10 Steps for Estate Planing Checklist can help collect and organize the information you need to plan your estate and prepare a will.

10 Steps For Estate Planning

  1. Family Information
  2. Financial Information
  3. Goal Setting
  4. Legal and Tax Analysis
  5. Plan Recommendations Continue reading “10 Steps for Estate Planning” »

Estate Planning Checklist

February 10th, 2011

While hiring the right attorney will increase your chances of leaving your loved ones an estate that is well planned and easy to manage, knowing what you want and having the necessary information ready to provide to your attorney is the first step towards peace of mind for you and less frustration for your family. Below is a checklist to help you prepare for an initial consult with an estate planning attorney.

___ Prepare a list of your assets and how they are titled (is there a designated TOD, POD, or joint owner?). Under state law, joint owners generally become the new owner upon your death, so you should only title property jointly with those whom you wish to inherit the property.

________________________________________________
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__ You will need your life insurance policy information, including any named beneficiaries. State inheritance tax laws may allow named beneficiaries to collect life insurance proceeds tax free, so you will need to know if you have a beneficiary named, and who you have named.

Insurance Company ________________________________
Policy Number ________________________________
Beneficiaries ________________________________

Insurance Company ________________________________
Policy Number ________________________________
Beneficiaries ________________________________

Continue reading “Estate Planning Checklist” »