Why Do You Need a Will?

It may not sound enticing, but creating a will puts power in your hands.

Provided by Michael Snow

 

According to the global analytics firm Gallup, only about 44% of Americans have created a will. This finding may not surprise you. After all, no one wants to be reminded of their mortality or dwell on what might happen upon their death, so writing a last will and testament is seldom prioritized on the to-do list of a Millennial or Gen Xer. What may surprise you, though, is the statistic cited by personal finance website The Balance: around 35% of Americans aged 65 and older lack wills.1,2

 

A will is an instrument of power. By creating one, you gain control over the distribution of your assets. If you die without one, the state decides what becomes of your property, with no regard to your priorities.

 

A will is a legal document by which an individual or a couple (known as “testator”) identifies their wishes regarding the distribution of their assets after death. A will can typically be broken down into four parts:

 

*Executors: Most wills begin by naming an executor. Executors are responsible for carrying out the wishes outlined in a will. This involves assessing the value of the estate, gathering the assets, paying inheritance tax and other debts (if necessary), and distributing assets among beneficiaries. It is recommended that you name an alternate executor in case your first choice is unable to fulfill the obligation. Some families name multiple children as co-executors, with the intention of thwarting sibling discord, but this can introduce a logistical headache, as all the executors must act unanimously.2,3

*Guardians: A will allows you to designate a guardian for your minor children. The designated guardian you appoint must be able to assume the responsibility. For many people, this is the most important part of a will. If you die without naming a guardian, the courts will decide who takes care of your children.

*Gifts: This section enables you to identify people or organizations to whom you wish to give gifts of money or specific possessions, such as jewelry or a car. You can also specify conditional gifts, such as a sum of money to a young daughter, but only when she reaches a certain age.

*Estate: Your estate encompasses everything you own, including real property, financial investments, cash, and personal possessions. Once you have identified specific gifts you would like to distribute, you can apportion the rest of your estate in equal shares among your heirs, or you can split it into percentages. For example, you may decide to give 45% each to two children and the remaining 10% to your sibling.

 

A do-it-yourself will may be acceptable, but it may not be advisable. The law does not require a will to be drawn up by a professional, so you could create your own will, with or without using a template. If you make a mistake, however, you will not be around to correct it. When you draft a will, consider enlisting the help of a legal, tax, or financial professional who could offer you additional insight, especially if you have a large estate or a complex family situation.

 

Remember, a will puts power in your hands. You have worked hard to create a legacy for your loved ones. You deserve to decide how that legacy is sustained.

 

 

Michael Snow may be reached at 316-765-7738 or info@tower-strategies.com

http://www.tower-strategies.com

 

This material was prepared by MarketingPro, Inc., and does not necessarily represent the views of the presenting party, nor their affiliates. This information has been derived from sources believed to be accurate. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results. The publisher is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting or other professional services. If assistance is needed, the reader is advised to engage the services of a competent professional. This information should not be construed as investment, tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

*Financial Adviser offering investment advisory services through Tower Financial Strategies Corp., a Registered Investment Adviser. Tower Financial Strategies Corp. is also a licensed insurance agency. Not licensed in all state.

 

Citations.

1 – https://news.gallup.com/poll/191651/majority-not.aspx [4/24/18]

2 – https://www.thebalance.com/wills-4073967 [4/24/18]

3 – https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/naming-more-one-executor.html [12/3/18]

 

 

Financial Elder Abuse: Perception vs. Reality

 

Someday, you or your parents could be at risk.

 

Provided by Michael R Snow

 

You may know victims of financial elder abuse. According to a new Wells Fargo Elder Needs Survey, almost half of Americans do.1

 

As you read or hear stories about seniors being financially exploited, you may think: not me, I would never fall prey to that in my old age. Your parents? Same thing. They are too smart and too vigilant to be taken for a ride by a con artist or an unprincipled relative or caretaker.

 

This perception is only natural. When we are young, we never picture ourselves, or our parents, in decline. We are told 60 is the new 40, and 80 is the new 50. Perhaps so, but as some of the Wells Fargo survey data bears out, we may be overconfident in our ability to evade financial scams as we age.

 

Nearly 800 Americans aged 60 and older were asked if they believed senior citizens were vulnerable to financial abuse. Ninety-eight percent of the respondents said yes, but 81% were confident that it would never happen to them. Just 10% thought they were susceptible to such exploitation, and only 24% even worried about the possibility.1

 

The surveyors also contacted nearly 800 Americans aged 45-59 with elderly parents, and 75% of these Gen Xers and baby boomers felt their moms and dads would never succumb to such fraud.1

 

In short: financial elder abuse might happen to other people someday, but not to us.

 

This assumption may be flawed – after all, half the people Wells Fargo contacted said that they knew elders who had been financially exploited. Any perception that strangers are committing most of these crimes may be equally unfounded. The Jewish Council for the Aging states that 66% of financial elder abuse is carried out by family members, friends, or trusted third parties.1

 

What actions can be taken to try and shield your parents from such abuse? As a first step, you and your parents can meet with an estate planning attorney to put a signed financial power of attorney in place (if one is absent). Should your mom or dad lose the capacity to make financial decisions on their own, this document can authorize you (or another family member) to make worthy decisions on their behalf.1

 

There are also software programs, such as EverSafe, that are designed to pinpoint odd financial transactions for a household or business. Such activity is flagged, and a financial advocate for the person or business is then signaled.1

 

 

You can also meet the bank or investment professional who works with your parent(s) and request that you become a trusted contact on their account. You can do this by filling out a form.2

 

You may already be named as a trusted contact. Since February, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) has required investment firms to ask their clients to provide the name and information of such persons, though clients do not have to comply with the request.2

 

The financial services industry is taking further steps in this regard. In May, President Trump signed the Senior Safe Act into law. This legislation, introduced by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, guides banks and investment firms to train their financial professionals to spot and report what appears to be shady financial activity. To encourage such reporting, it gives them a degree of immunity from liability and breaches of privacy laws.3

 

The bottom line: act now to guard against the risk of elder financial abuse. It happens too often, and though it may seem improbable today, that may not be the case tomorrow – for your parents or you.

 

*Michael R Snow may be reached at 316-765-7738 or info@tower-strategies.com

http://www.tower-strategies.com

 

All information is believed to be from reliable sources; however we make no representation as to its completeness or accuracy. Please note – investing involves risk, and past performance is no guarantee of future results.  This information should not be construed as tax or legal advice and may not be relied on for the purpose of avoiding any Federal tax penalty. This is neither a solicitation nor recommendation to purchase or sell any investment or insurance product or service, and should not be relied upon as such. All indices are unmanaged and are not illustrative of any particular investment.

 

*Financial Advisor offering investment advisory services through Tower Financial Strategies Corp., a Registered Investment Adviser. 125 N. Market ST., Suite #1603, Wichita, KS 67202

 

Citations.

1 – marketwatch.com/story/youre-in-denial-if-you-think-you-or-your-elderly-parents-wont-be-scammed-2018-06-25 [6/25/18]

2 – cnbc.com/2018/05/15/advisors-are-asking-their-clients-for-a-trusted-contact-choose-wisely.html [5/15/18]

3 – wealthmanagement.com/high-net-worth/new-senior-safe-act-encourages-reporting-financial-abuse [5/29/18]