Attention all procrastinators! We need to talk. There is something you have been putting off and don’t quite understand. Over the next thirteen weeks, we are going to be talking about Estate Planning. That’s right, the subject you’ve been postponing because it makes you face the reality of life, which includes aging, death and possibly, incapacity. Oh, sorry. It’s not a good time? Okay, when will it be a good time? On the way to the hospital in the back of an ambulance? Hooked up to a machine? After that catastrophic stroke?

Now, is the time- you’ve put it off long enough. It is something you need to first, understand, then, hopefully, you’ll take action. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your family, your loved ones, your favorite charitable organization.

So, what is this business called estate planning anyway? Basically, it is undertaking the organization of the assets you have worked for all your life. It’s taking control of your property rather than some judge you have never met and knows nothing about you. You like control don’t you? You want control of your life don’t you. Then why are you going to allow the state to dictate where you live if you lose capacity or how much can be spent on you for caretaking purposes, or to whom your property goes on your death. Would you like that? I would hope not. If you don’t care, stop reading and take the advice of my Italian friends, Dario, Big Jim and Jason when they whisper that subtle Sicilian phrase, “Forget about it”!. But if these things concern you, read on.

Your property, your assets of value, are what makes up your estate. What you do with those assets, how you title those assets, and to whom you leave those assets on your death is your plan. Hence, Estate Planning.

Many times when I ask a potential client what assets they have in their estate, they respond, “including my home”? Yes, of course, your home is probably the most valuable asset in your estate. Your estate consists of every item of value. Some items clients at times forget are: Timeshares, life insurance, cash accounts, annuities, IRAs, Trust deeds, promissory notes, etc.

If you only own a home, you still have an estate. What happens to that home if you lose capacity; or die with children, especially minors? Who will pay the mortgage, the taxes, insurance, maintenance. Will you live there if you need long term care? How do you know? Have you prepared a legal and valid estate plan? Wouldn’t you want to control where you live and die? Why would anyone want to leave that decision to chance? This is just the tip of the iceberg because in the next thirteen weeks you are going to learn so much about estate planning- you will be surprised, I promise. Why? Because you need to be in CONTROL of your life. And you will be, I promise.

In the next thirteen weeks look for the following topics to become knowledgeable and impress your friends and neighbors with your acumen.

1. Estate Planning to avoid Probate and other undesirable Court Proceedings;

2. Estate Planning with Retirement Plans (IRAs, Roths, 401Ks, etc.);

3. Estate Planning with your Home and other Real Property;

4. Estate Planning with Protective Inheritance Trusts for Heirs;

5. Estate Planning with Special Needs and Disabled Beneficiaries;

6. Estate Planning with Durable Powers of Attorney;

7. Estate Planning and Taxes (Estate, Income, Gift and Property);

8. Estate Planning and Incapacity and other undesirable conditions, like Death;

9. Estate Planning with Medi-Cal Benefits;

10. Estate Planning with Powers of Appointment (The Mysterious Trust Powers);

11. Estate planning with A-B Trusts and Advanced Planning Strategies;

12. Estate Planning with LLCs, Corporations and Partnerships;

13. Estate Planning with Life Insurance.

Until next week- Remember the Theme and the Study Word “CONTROL.”

You know you WANT it- Now TAKE it.