If someone would have told me I would be planning my father’s funeral at the age of 38, I would have jokingly fired back and said “not a chance, he will make darn sure he sticks around to keep me and my sister on our toes.” You see, my dad was a jokester; you could never let your guard down and he never took life to serious. My dad was the typical stubborn farmer who never went to the doctor and was still pretty active on his hobby farm. He had a few beef cattle, rented out his farm land, enjoyed tinkering around in the shop, and loved to hunt. But in January of 2014, my sister and I noticed a few things with his health that were concerning to us. We tried talking to him and he would laugh it off and tell us he was just fine and if he needed our help he would ask for it. After continuous nagging, he finally allowed us to make a doctor’s appointment for him. It was that day that we knew it was too late. On January 25, 2015, my father passed away from a massive heart attack at the young age of 62. It will be two years this January and I still get teary eyed when I try to talk about him. I want to share my story, not for anyone to feel sorry for me, but to help others prepare for the unexpected and not have to experience a death with no plan.
In the last year, my sister and I were more concerned about doctor’s appointments, medications, and driving him to and from appointments than we were finances. My Dad never discussed his finances with us and whenever we tried, he would always tell us things were taken care of. Well, my Dad was incorrect and he did not have an estate plan in place. So not only were we faced with the emotional loss of our father and trying to grieve, we had a lot of decisions to make with his funeral and the farm. I became a farmer again overnight, we had cattle and a farm that needed our attention.
My goal as a registered representative with JA Counter is to ask each and every client if they have an estate plan in place and if they don’t, I want to make sure they know who to contact to put a plan in place.
What happens if you don’t have a plan? I recently came across this article by Chandler and Brown, LTD, Attorneys at Law, over the holidays and felt it was appropriate to share…
Eleven Powerful Reasons to Plan your Estate
1. You decide who gets your assets. No plan; Minnesota Law decides.
2. You decide who raises your minor children. No plan; a judge decides.
3. You keep assets in your family (i.e. children, grandchildren). No plan; assets can go to in-laws or others.
4. You decide who helps if you are incapacitated. No plan; a judge decides.
5. You assure your family’s financial security. No plan; lower living standards or worse.
6. You save income tax on your IRA. No plan; burdensome income taxes paid too soon.
7. You want your business to continue. No plan; your business can fall apart.
8. You control what goes to your children and spouse’s children in second marriage. No plan; your wishes are not considered.
9. You assure a special needs child gets maximum government benefits. No plan; child can be disqualified from government benefits.
10. You avoid probate. No plan; wasteful cost and complication.
11. You reduce or eliminate estate tax. No plan; more for government, less for family.
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