Tag Archives: Final Wishes

Estate Mistake Amy Winehouse

Estate Mistakes – Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was a controversial but talented British singer who died of accidental alcohol poisoning at the “too young” age of 27 in 2011. She also died “intestate,” meaning that she did not leave a valid will.  Her former spouse who she was quite close to at the time of her death received nothing. She might have wished it otherwise, but she left no will so her estate passed by law to her “natural heirs” as determined by law which did not include her ex-husband or her siblings. Instead, her divorced parents were entitled to the bulk of her estate and her Dad was appointed the administrator of her estate shortly after her death. It’s tragic enough to lose a child but being the administrator of your child’s estate adds to the grief.

Adding to the tragedy of her death is the fact that 3 years after Amy’s death her parents are still settling her accounts. They have been forced to use much of Amy’s wealth of some $7 million or so to settle bills and debts and taxes. Amy had 6 music companies to account for and her parents have taken out loans to cover the costs of dealing with her personal and business affairs. Sales of her music after her death should help their financial situation but as her Dad has noted “it’s been “an incredible drain on our resources. We had to have a lot of security and it cost us an absolute fortune”. 

A basic will or a trust, would have ensured that Amy Winehouse’s estate would be passed to the person of her choice which may or may not be the same as those designated by the default rules of the legislature. A basic will or trust might have also saved a lot of estate taxes by allowing assets to pass outside of probate via beneficiary designations and/or trusts. And…some basic organization to her estate might have saved her parents additional grief that comes with trying to track down details and settle final accounts.

 

Inter generational wealth transfers

Preparing for wealth transfers in the trillions – a strategic imperative

It’s a lot to lose

The looming inter generational wealth transfer may receive much attention in the news but how much real preparation is taking place in the financial services market for this transfer? Not reaching out to the spouse, or children & grandchildren (heirs) of existing clients presents a real risk. Bank of America in 2011 noted that assets transferring to a spouse move to another firm 55% of the time while assets transferring to children move as much as 98% of the time.  Bank of America aptly noted the strategic imperative of reducing the risk of inter generational wealth transfers; “a very real risk of long-term erosion to their business

How much ?

Life expectancy, rising health care costs , changing tax legislation and increasing debt levels aside, the estimated value of Inter generational wealth transfers over the next many years is in the Trillions and comes by way of 2 different phases.The so-called “Great Transfer” is an estimated $17 Trillion + that is expected to shift between the “Greatest” generation to Baby boomers. A 2nd shift  (“Greater transfer“) is another $42 Trillion + that is expected to move from Baby Boomers to Generation X.  Added together or alone, these transfers present a high level of risk for financial advisors/firms to lose assets. An estimated $30 Trillion of this total of $59 Trillion is expected to shift in the next 30 years.  During the peak of the wealth transfers taking place (between 2031 to 2045) it’s estimated that 10% of the Country’s wealth will change hands every 5 years.

Where’s the risk?

Estimates vary based a lot on wealth and income but most studies indicate that too few families (less than 35%) have discussed estate planning with their primary financial advisor. Why don’t more families take the time to discuss and prepare? Certainly, the myth of estate planning only being for the wealthy continues to prevail but so does procrastination and the ‘discomfort” of the topic generally.

At the same time, why are financial advisors not more actively engaging with clients & their heirs about estate planning matters? Some evidence suggests that most advisors happen to be Baby boomers themselves and feel that they lack effective ways to both reach out to the children & grandchildren of their clients and engage proactively with clients to establish multi generational wealth transfer plans. That’s not good (!) Estate planning discussions provide great value to clients, their families and financial advisors.

Engage/Do Good/Enhance Value/Retain

Research shows that at least 60% of inter generational wealth loss is caused by poor communication and a lack of trust within the family. Encouraging clients to talk with their family members about their expectations and values before the estate planning process begins is a meaningful way to provide value. We’ve written about the idea of Ethical wills over and above traditional will planning in other posts on this blog. (We provide a place for both in LegacyTracker)

Coordinating family meetings provides a great way for advisors to introduce themselves to the next generation and show that they care. Clients appreciate an advisor that cares and demonstrates customer advocacy on a regular basis & so will the families of those clients.   By offering a technology solution that helps clients simplify, safeguard and share their important financial, legal and estate information, financial advisors and firms can demonstrate customer advocacy to the entire family. Being organized will make a real difference for an entire family in enhancing their level of emergency preparedness.  Our branded solution can ease the potential burden on a family should an emergency arise; reducing the risk of additional grief, delay or cost that often comes when families are unprepared.

LegacyTracker can also help facilitate important discussions between both Advisors & Clients as well as between Clients & their family members about important estate planning matters including final wishes. Such discussions will enable Clients and their families to more proactively prepare for the next generation & and will enable financial advisors and their firms to show additional value.

That’s a core mission behind LegacyTracker –  providing a way for Financial Advisors/Firms to reach out to their Clients/Families which also helps those Financial Advisors/Firms to ultimately hold on to assets that might otherwise move. LegacyTracker is also a technology solution that will have particular appeal to younger clients or family members who are on the look out for a technology to make their lives less complex & more mobile.

Preparing for What If Scenarios

An earlier post from Brighter Life  asked  Can you imagine what would happen if you died and your beneficiaries didn’t know where to find your will?  Or your money?

That’s a much feared.. What If Scenario ..dying unprepared, without your beneficiaries knowing where to find your will or your money…Unfortunately, that kind of scenario  happens far too frequently, leaving loved ones and beneficiaries with additional stress, grief and expense often.

What If?

The article quoted well-known financial advisor Jim Yih, author of the personal finance blog, retirehappyblog.ca 

“You really love your family and friends, so take the time to get your estate organized so you don’t leave them with a big mess to sort through during such an emotional time “

The article pointed out the following 12 key documents which should be safely stored together in a place where they can easily be found:

  1. Your will: Outlining who gets what when you die and appointing guardians for minor children. Dying without a will, may lead to a family disaster with assets being divided according to provincial law & minor children ending up with the guardian that you may not approve of.
  2.  A living will: Outlining treatment should you be unable to make decisions about your own health (like receiving life-sustaining treatments).
  3.  A power of attorney: Providing someone you trust with the power to make financial decisions for you in the event you’re no longer able to do so, as opposed to the Courts deciding upon who that guardian should be.
  4.  Proof of ownership: All of those documents that relate to important assets like your house, land, vehicles, stocks and any other assets.
  5. 6 years of tax returns: Providing your executor a sense of the assets and finances that are part of your estate.
  6. A list of bank accounts and safety deposit boxes: To avoid the risk of your bank accounts being added to the 1.3 million accounts that make up $465 Million in the Bank of Canada,
  7.  Stock certificates and savings bonds: Investment account statements and & any actual stock certificates
  8.  Pension, retirement and annuity documents: Without these documents, your family may be unable to determine what remains of your retirement benefits that they may be eligible to receive.
  9.  Insurance policies: All insurance-related documents are vital for claiming insurance benefits. At this point in time in Canada particularly, no one is going to look for beneficiaries even if the policy owner might be 125 years old
  10.  A list of your debts and loans: Another list that will help ensure family won’t end up with unwanted or nasty surprises down the road
  11.  Marriage licence and/or divorce papers: Legal proof of marriage and divorce can make it easier for the executor of your estate and for your family.
  12.  Your user names and passwords: Digital assets relating to social media and online accounts are now critically important to most estates.

LegacyTracker includes comprehensive but flexible templates to take care of this chore and includes all of the above documents plus quite a few more. Life is Busy. Our mission is to help you better simplify, safeguard & share your important details for the benefit of you and your loved ones.

Learn more by contacting us

Digital Assets – in Life and in Death

In our increasingly digital world, digital assets are adding up…the average digital user (like you) has an estimated $35,000 in digital assets 

Digital assets include purchased movies, music, games, digital photos, communications and social media profiles including blogs like this. Many of these digital accounts can be subject to complicated terms of service agreements, which can make it frustrating or impossible for  loved ones to access. Depending on where you live, such terms of service agreements might even put loved ones in legal trouble related to anti-hacking or privacy statutes, if they try to log on to your accounts after you die.

 

Estate Plans for Digital Assets are becoming more critical 

That’s why it’s important to include detailed directions and information about your digital assets into your estate plan and save those instructions somewhere safe (LegacyTracker provides a spot for that)

An estimated 30M Facebook users died in the first 8 years of Facebook alone 

A good visual guide about what happens to your social media profiles after death comes by way of Dan Shaffer at WebpageFX

The world is changing and this guide is not a definitive answer in all cases. Clearly, Different Sites / Different Rules / Different Data & Different Documentation is accumulated & required after death of you or a loved one.

Here’s some more Facebook Trivia:  with 1 billion users already using Facebook, in the unlikely event that growth stopped on Facebook completely, it’s estimated that the number of deceased users would outnumber those living by 2065. If Facebook continues to grow and memorialized accounts are never removed, then deceased users will exceed living users by 2130.

LegacyTracker can help you organize & safeguard important information about your digital assets -in life and death 

Digital Assets and Death

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What if funeral planning became more like party planning ?

Would more of us talk about Final wishes & Funerals ?

Party Planning or Funeral PlanningFunerals are changing

The Toronto Starrecently ran a good article on Funeral planning that we thought was well worth sharing. Actually the Star has run a good series of articles on Death & Dying that are well worth a read. 

But one article stood out, as surprisingly more uplifting than the typical reading about this particular subject matter that often does not get spoken of (!) It was uplifting in a spirited way and that’s because the good news is that Traditional funerals are being transformed & that means the funeral industry is being transformed as well.

Traditional funerals are apparently on their deathbed 

Less of the 2 days of visitation variety, followed by an internment at the cemetery. Yes. that definitely sounds like my own Dad’s funeral, which for my family & I’m sure most, seems like more like an endurance test.

Some of that change is coming from consumers who are looking for more choice and less cost these days. cremations have certainly become more popular than burials (moving from just 4% in the 1970’s to 60% currently). Family members are looking to mourn less and celebrate more, the lives of those loved ones who have left, remembering in different ways which do not always include a traditional religious ceremony.

  • A wine and cheese instead of a traditional funeral ?
  • Ashes scattered across the Pacific Ocean instead of a traditional burial plot?
  • Body dealt with in the most inexpensive and environmentally friendly way

The cute lady pictured and quoted in the article, Margaret Adamson, 82 years young said it best “I feel whatever of me remains will be in the memories of my family and friends, and how the body is treated is not important to me. Once I’m gone”

 

Count me in. (Does my spouse follow this blog?)

 

Here’s the best part almost of this article being about more uplifting final wishes and funeral planning….It’s easier to print it or share it by sending it to someone you care about or who cares about you to start a conversation if one has not already begun. Too often, those kinds of conversations (like about estate planning, funerals, final wishes, WILLS etc.)  are delayed and that increases the risk that a conversation does not happen and more grief in the form of more stress and trying to guess occurs.  

You can read the entire article here 

LegacyTracker wants you to talk about your final wishes, plan for what if scenarios and share that information with your loved ones. We’ve included a spot for those plans and wishes right inside the Estate section of LegacyTracker

Live Well. Live Long.

Speak up! Have a Conversation – Advance Care Planning

This is a perfect video for sharing with family members as it explains why Advance Care Planning is important for you and your family. Learn more and find the resources you need to start a conversation at  http://www.advancecareplanning.ca/

 

Advance Care Planning – Questions/Answers

April 16th is National Advance Care Planning Day, an initiative sponsored by the Canadian Hospice Palliative Care Association and Carenet (Canadian Researchers at the end of life network)

It’s a day for Canadians to have or begin a conversation with a loved one about their wishes for end of life care. Here’s some information & resources to get started.

Resources: Advanced Care Planning options  ON Advanced Care.Guide  Advanced care planning in Ontario  & help making that plan and having that conversation here

And yes. We have included a place for these plans and for sharing these plans inside LegacyTracker

Advance Care Planning FAQ

April 16 is National Advance Care Planning Day

As Canadians learned this week, Life can get complicated too fast. We or a loved one can meet with a tragic event suddenly.

The National Advance Care Planning in Canada initiative is challenging Canadians to tell their stories on April 16, 2014.

Have a conversation. Speak up. (and yes, you can document & share those plans inside LegacyTracker)

Advance Care Planning

 

Estate Mistakes – Ted Williams Baseball Legend

Estate Mistake: Document your final wishes & if you change those wishes – make the change formally & share the info so that information can be accessed quickly. Advanced Directives will help you outline those wishes between cremation, burial or something else as well as your medical care and end of life care

Baseball great Ted Williams by all accounts was a private person in life and it’s quite likely he wished to remain that way in death. Unfortunately, for Ted Williams, his Estate Plan also has become legend. In his will, Ted Williams said he wished to be cremated & his ashes sprinkled at sea off the coast of Florida.

However, a long-standing & bitter rivalry between his 3 children, Bobby-Jo, John Henry & Claudia made that impossible when the children from his 2nd marriage produced a grease-stained, handwritten note stating that he wished that his body be cryogenically frozen after his death. It was unclear if the handwritten note was written by Ted Williams or whether or not he had sufficient capacity to make that change to his final wishes.

His eldest daughter fought to have his body unfrozen and cremated, but gave up the fight when she ran out of money.  No one will ever know the truth behind the decisions made by or on behalf of Ted Williams-much has been written & is still being written about this particular case which was definitely not the intention of Ted Williams.

LegacyTracker helps families and individuals better prepare themselves for emergency situations that all happen to be on the rise including death, incapacity, Identity Theft, Natural and Physical Disasters. With the added feature of Alerts & Reminders, we hope LegacyTracker will help facilitate important family discussions that too many have put off, concerning estate planning and final wishes. The flexible sharing feature built into LegacyTracker allows individuals & families share any or all of their information with loved ones or Advisors. 

Life is…. complicated. Death more so. Get Organized.

Orginally published Jan 13 2013

Stop procrastinating…Get your stuff together (please)….

This is a poster published first in the Wall Street in 2011 – It’s a good one..with an article from Saabira Chaudhuri titled “The 25 documents you need before you Die”  It’s cdrtainly an attention grabber.

25 important documents article

It’s a great poster and a fascinating story which talks about the financial consequences that befalls your family and loved ones if you fail to keep all your documents and important papers in order. In the US where they track, report and actively look for owners of unclaimed funds they know that the toll is great. $33B (now $58B) approximately in unclaimed bank accounts and other assets like paid up insurance policies.

You may or may not know (maybe this is your first visit here) that Canada is not so lucky. Only 2 provinces have any real unclaimed intangible property legislation in place (Alberta & Quebec).  That’s not the way it should be but that’s the way it is right now in Canada.

That sad fact, makes it even more critical to ensure that your records are organized and shared to make sure you reduce the financial risk that comes from not being so organized. So yes. Please stop procrastinating around this topic.

Read the article from the Wall Street Jounal here