Where there’s a will isn’t always the way!

Many federal workers and retirees don’t bother with estate planning. Mostly because they don’t think of themselves, long-time civil servants, as the estate type. Get a will off the internet, get it notarized and all is well, right?

Not necessarily. Wills are great, but if you are or were a career civil servant, if you own a house, if you have money in your TSP account, bank or investments — chances are you have an estate. If you check all those boxes and are still married to your first spouse, you almost certainly do. So what next?

Tom O’Rourke, an estate/tax attorney in the Washington D.C. area, says many people have estates but don’t realize it. He’ll be my guest today on our Your Turn show at 10 a.m. EST, streaming here or on 1500 AM in the D.C. area. If you have questions for Tom, email them to mcausey@federalnewsnetwork.com before the show.

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Many of his clients are long-time feds or retirees. He says having an estate plan can keep your loved ones out of court and make a difficult time, like an extended illness or death, much less stressful for all concerned. He wrote the guest column below to explain why you should consider estate planning, starting with listening to today’s show. If you miss it or cant’t listen now, the show will be archived on our home page so you can listen anytime or spread the word.

Your Estate Plan is More Than a Will

Virtually every conversation I have with a prospective client about an estate plan starts with the client saying, “I need a will”. While a will is certainly an important part of an estate plan, it is by no means a complete estate plan. If you have a will and nothing more, you have a deficient estate plan.

The purpose of a will is to distribute your assets in the way you want following your death and to name a person to oversee that the wishes expressed in your will are carried out. This person is your personal representative or executor. A will can be very simple or extraordinarily complex and may include one or more trusts. A will only becomes effective at your death!

Many of the issues that need to be addressed in an estate plan arise while you are alive. For example, how do you wish to be cared for while you are alive, but incapacitated? Who is going to make decisions about how you are cared for? Who is going to make sure that your financial affairs are being taken care of who? Who is going to pay your bills, file your tax returns, elect your insurance coverage and care for your home?

A complete estate plan should not only address how your affairs will be handled after you die, but also how you are cared for while you are alive. A complete estate plan should include all of the following:

  • A will or revocable trust.
  • A financial power of attorney that authorizes an agent to manage your finances if you become incapacitated.
  • An advance medical directive that includes a health care power of attorney (or health care proxy), a living will, and a HIPAA authorization authorizing your agent to have access to your medical information and to discuss your care with your physicians.

Other matters you may wish to include as part of your estate plan include a personal property memorandum that outlines how your personal property should be distributed and funeral or burial instructions.

Dealing with the death or incapacity of a loved one is always difficult even if the loved one has a complete and thorough estate plan. If there is no plan, the only way to deal with the issues that need to be addressed is through a court proceeding.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Alazar Moges

Buzz Aldrin is one of the most famous astronauts of all time. He is best known for,  along with mission commander Neil Armstrong, being the first humans to visit the moon. But Aldrin’s path to space exploration almost seems like destined from birth. Aldrin’s mother Marion’s maiden name is actually Moon. That’s right, Buzz Aldrin is the son of Marion Moon.

Source: Buzz Aldrin

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