Estate Planning Basics Seminar

SAINT JOHNSBURY – No matter what stage you are at in your life, estate planning is a crucial step in handling financial matters. Estate planning is the process of mapping out how you want your finances handled during periods of incapacity or death.

 The Passumpsic Financial Advisors held a seminar series for estate planning throughout the month of November in New Hampshire and Vermont. The seminar was prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Dirk Elston has worked as a Financial Consultant at Passumpsic Financial Advisors for the past four and a half years, and led their most recent seminar in Saint Johnsbury. 

Elston mentioned a variety of different types of estate planning documents. This first one is a last will. According to the Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. seminar, a last will is, “A written directive that includes instructions about who is to settle your estate (the executor), who is to be the guardian for any minor children, and how property is to be distributed to your heirs.”

Elston described the importance of reviewing your will to update it when certain life events happen—including a wedding or divorce. He gave a scenario where a man was married to a woman with a couple of young children, and then ended up getting divorced. The man later remarried, but died suddenly. Since the man didn’t update his will since getting divorced, the man’s ex-wife was still in his will with control of his kids and finances.

A trust is another type of estate document. “A trust is a legal entity where someone, known as a grantor, arranges with another person, known as the trustee, to hold the property for the benefit of a third party, known as the beneficiary.” There are several different types of trusts, and Elston believes it’s important to find the right one that fits for each person’s situation. A revocable trust is one that can be changed or amended, whereas, an irrevocable trust is one that cannot be changed. Also, there is a type of trust that is created while an individual is alive—an inter vivos trust; however, a testamentary trust is created when death occurs—which is executed under the terms of a will.

Midge Lubot is a retired resident who attended the seminar. Lubot felt as though it was getting to the point in her life where she should be doing something. “I was interested because I feel the need to do some financial planning.” She continued by mentioning she’s older than 65, so “why not sooner?”

Elston doesn’t believe there’s a specific time where you need to begin planning out your estate. He thinks if you have an asset, children, or spouse to protect, it’s something to consider.  There’s a lot of pressure that can be put onto loved ones regarding personal and financial matters which Elston believes an estate plan will help clarify your wishes and avoid disputes.

If an individual does without creating an estate plan, the property will end up with the people that your state's intestacy laws rule. Broadridge Investor Comminication Solutions, Inc. seminar said, "State intestacy laws specify how your property will be divided--your actual skshes are completely irrelevant." Vermont's law on this matter is states that 50-percent of the property will go to the spouse, and other 50-percent to children. An individual may want all their property to end up with the spouse; but if they don't create any sort of estate planning strategy, then it doesn't matter what they wanted to occur without the legal document.

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