What’s the state of your estate?

No matter how humble your salary, job, habits and possessions you have an estate.

Whether you’re a GS-13 in Cleveland, a postal clerk in Bellingham, Washington, or a brand new Foreign Service officer in Athens, Georgia, two things are certain:  One, nobody regardless of age, sex, health or occupation gets out alive. And two, no matter how humble your salary, job, habits and possessions you have an estate.

What you probably don’t know is how much it is worth, or how to get it in the hands of those you love and want to help. Or maybe how can you protect it if your son or daughter married a slob or loser who will spend it in ways you can only imagine? This one is a keeper, and one to refer to a friend or colleagues.

So what do you need to do to identify, protect and make sure your estate — again, you’ve got more than you probably think — is handled in the way that’s best for everyone? Estate attorney Tom O’Rourke to the rescue. Tom is a Vietnam vet, a former IRS attorney and now counsels feds and retirees on estate planning. He’ll be my guest on today’s Your Turn radio show, which airs at 10 a.m. EDT on www.federalnewsnetwork.com and on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. area. The show will be archived on our website so you can listen again or refer it to a friend.

If you have questions please email them to mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com before the show. Here’s Tom’s checklist of things you should consider and take care of:

1. Are my beneficiary designations up to date?

Your beneficiary designation always supersedes your will. Some of your most valuable assets are controlled by beneficiary designations. When it comes to the Thrift Savings Plan, consider any adjustments to your investments and also whether your TSP beneficiaries should receive your entire account balance in one lump sum.

There’s also Federal Employees’ Group Life Insurance and other life insurance to consider, especially since your annuity which may be worth more than $1 million. Do you really want to have one of your children’s names on your bank and investment accounts?

2. Is my will or trust up to date?

Do you want to keep the same beneficiaries, trustee or personal representative? Does their health permit them to handle the job? Are they in a geographically convenient location? Has my net worth substantially increased or decreased? Are there any special concerns that need to be addressed?

Make sure you also consider minor children, handicapped children, spendthrift children, children going through a divorce or any children dealing with a substance abuse problem.

3. Do I have financial and medical directives in place?

Who is going to tell you if or when you should no longer be driving? Is your home conducive to your present needs? Should you give some thought to moving to a continuing care facility? Do you want to retain the same agent for financial matters? Do you want to retain the same agent for health care matters?

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Off the coast of Brazil lies Ilha da Queimada Grande, the most venomous 106 acres on Earth. The island which is uninhabited by humans, is covered with jungles, tall cliffs, blue water … and golden lancehead pit vipers. Their bite can kill a human in about an hour. Ilha da Queimada Grande, nicknamed “Snake Island,” is the only place the snakes are found, and therefore it is illegal to step foot there. But few would dare, as many legends persist about people who perished shortly upon arrival.

Source: How Stuff Works

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