Fort Worth, TX (PRWEB) August 02, 2013
Helen Stephens, CFP®, EA, financial planner and wealth manager, with Aspen Wealth Management (http://www.aspenwealthmgmt.com) in Fort Worth, Texas, works with families who have great hopes and goals for their financial plans. As families focus on education and retirement savings, they tend to forget to plan for their death. Estate planning is for everyone, regardless of asset level, because unexpected situations can happen at any age. Helen Stephens offers these tips, which can save families money, time and hardship.
Tip 1: Make certain estate documents are up to date. This goes beyond the will. An individual needs to have a durable financial power of attorney, a medical power of attorney and a living will (also known in Texas as a directive to physicians and families). These documents allow appointment to a trusted person to be in charge of financial and/or medical affairs in the event of incapacitation. The living will gives instruction for what type of medical treatment an individual would or would not like to receive.
Tip 2: Ensure the beneficiaries on retirement plans and IRA accounts are as they should be. These accounts bypass probate and go directly to the named beneficiary. Many people forget to add beneficiaries to accounts when they are established. Death, divorce and family trauma create situations where individuals forget to update these plans and the percentages going to beneficiaries. Just as important is to make sure that retirement and IRA accounts also have contingent beneficiaries listed. Should an individual become co-deceased with the primary beneficiary (such as a spouse), the plan will look for contingent beneficiaries.
Tip 3: On non-retirement investment and bank accounts, individuals should consider a Transfer On Death (TOD) or a Pay on Death (POD) designation, particularly if they are single. These designations allow the transfer of property directly to the listed beneficiaries, bypassing probate. Understand that if this titling is used, the accounts will be distributed upon death to the listed beneficiaries even if the will designates otherwise.
Tip 4: If an individual has a living trust, it is a good idea to review it every couple of years. Only items belonging to the trust are protected and will bypass probate. If and individual buys or sells property, or opens a new bank or brokerage account, s/he should make sure those assets are titled properly.
Tip 5: If a family is in a position to leave wealth to children or other family members, it is wise to make certain the beneficiaries are prepared to receive the inheritance and handle it in a responsible way. Most families have the best of intentions when they pass along wealth, but often, the heirs are not knowledgeable in how to manage what they receive. Open communication, organized records and financial education are all keys in preparing heirs.
Helen Stephens, CFP®, EA is a financial planner and wealth manager with Aspen Wealth Management, serving a select group of clients who wish to receive objective, comprehensive financial planning and wealth management services, including retirement planning, investment management, estate planning and risk management. Stephens’s professional experience includes over 20 years in various aspects of financial services, including banking and personal finance. Prior to passing the CFP® examination, Stephens earned a degree in finance from Southern Methodist University.
Aspen Wealth Management is an all-female, comprehensive financial planning and wealth management firm known for its close relationships with clients. With offices in Fort Worth and Colleyville, Texas, the firm provides clients with personalized strategies and solutions which help clients meet their unique needs and goals. Aspen Wealth Management is online at http://www.aspenwealthmgmt.com/.
The registered trademarks in the press release identify those individuals who have met the rigorous experience and ethical requirements of the CFP Board, and have passed the CFP® Certification Examination covering the following areas: the financial planning process, risk management, investments, tax planning and management, retirement and employee benefits, and estate planning. CFP® certificants also agree to meet ongoing continuing education requirements and to uphold the CFP® Board’s Code Of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, Rules of Conduct and Financial Planning Practice Standards. For more about the CFP® Board, visit http://www.CFP.net.