Educating Yourself on Estate Plan Essentials

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Acquiring new knowledge shouldn’t stop when one ends his or her formal education because success in life and in business is contingent on learning and growing. It’s a philosophy that Ted Austin, Market Leader for The Private Client Reserve, embraces as an adjunct professor at University of Portland, where he has taught estate planning in the Certified Financial Planners program since its formation. While Austin and other U.S. Bank representatives can’t provide tax or legal advice, or draft legal documents, they can provide guidance on what items you should consider.

 

Why do you enjoy working as an educator?

 

It’s so rewarding. Not a day goes by that a student doesn’t ask a pointed, challenging question. It keeps me sharp and helps me stay on top of changing trends and tax laws. If I can teach a class full of students, I can talk to just about anyone about estate planning.

 
Ted Austin, Market Leader for The Private Client Reserve; photo by Annie Lindekugel

 

Why doesn't everyone do estate planning?

 

Estate planning is easy to put off. People don’t think about their mortality because it’s uncomfortable. Estate planning isn’t just about planning for your death, but planning for the future of your family and the legacy that you will leave.

What insights can you offer on estate planning?

 

Everybody needs to think about their estate plan. For some people, it’s a simple will. For others, it’s a more complex trust plan. A good foundation starts with a well-drafted durable power of attorney naming someone that you trust to step into your financial place in case of your incapacity.

 

Everyone with minor children should have a will. This is where you name the guardians for your children should something happen to you and your spouse. If you don’t name a guardian the court will appoint someone, but it may not be the person that you think would be the best person to raise your children. It’s also important to work with good legal counsel who specialize in estate planning.

 

What are the biggest mistakes people make?

 

Many people go through the process of creating an estate plan and signing the documents, and then they let those documents sit on a shelf and collect dust. In order for a trust to be effective it has to be funded, meaning the assets are re-titled into the name of the trust. As you and your family evolve, so should your estate plan.

 

What are the things most people don't know about trusts?

 

In general, trusts aren’t understood very well. They can be very simple or complex. You create the rules. As long as the rules are within the scheme of reality, you can draw up your estate plan through a grantor trust any way you like. A grantor trust survives your incapacity and death, and goes on to provide for future generations, like a family business for the transfer of wealth. 

 

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