Valuable Tools from our Legacy Planning Discussion Group


February 12, 2013


Thank you to all of you that participated in our Legacy Planning event this past Thursday, February 7th.  We enjoyed our discussion and we are grateful to Karen Gerstner for taking the time to share her wealth of knowledge with us.


One of the key themes from our discussion: Pre-planning is vital! Making a plan now will help your loved ones down the road in countless ways.


Some of the items that we discussed along this theme include:


  • Some participants shared stories about the problems that can arise if someone dies without the proper estate planning documents (wills, trusts, durable powers of attorney, etc.). If you don’t specify your wishes, the State of Texas will decide for you.


  • Do not rely on estate planning documents that are outdated.  Your financial, tax or family situation may have changed since you last updated your estate documents and some provisions may not suit your current situation. If your wills or other documents are over five years old, you should talk to your estate-planning attorney for a review.


  • Complete a document such as “Notes to My Family,” which contains important information like the location of important documents, names of advisors, your hopes for your legacy, and more.  Give this completed document to your loved ones so they understand your situation and can make decisions based on your wishes.


  • Have a trusted advisor who is available to help with the planning process and can help your family when necessary.


  • Making sure that your account titles and beneficiary designations (e.g., for IRAs, 401k’s, and life insurance) match your wishes in your wills and trusts.  This is very important since your will won’t determine who inherits certain accounts, like retirement plans.


  • Give some thought to your “digital assets” in your estate plan.  “Digital assets” are things like online personas (LinkedIn, Facebook), online photo sites, digital store credits, among others. Without planning, the fate of these assets can be ambiguous since state law has not yet specified how to deal with them.


If you were not able to join the discussion last Thursday, you can start your “pre-planning” by requesting a copy of the “Notes to My Family” document from your PERSONALCFO at PARTNERSINWEALTH or Jim Waters, CFP® at 713.964.4028.