Question of the week: Do you have a will and trust? If yes, please read on. If no, please read on.
Answer: What did Prince and Aretha Franklin have in common besides prolific performers and writers? Both of these musical icons passed away without a will or trust. There could be many reasons why. Prince, who passed away suddenly, perhaps he thought he had more time to live and prepare an estate plan. Aretha could not have had such thoughts as she had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer several years ago, a disease which median survival rate of one year or less. Now the attorneys in Minnesota and Michigan have a tremendous amount of work as they represent various potential heirs to large estates. Who gets the real estate, the rights to their royalties, family heirlooms and memorabilia?
Why they had no plans for their estates baffles the mind of anyone in the legal and financial industries who spend their careers encouraging their clients to have plans for their families and estates for when the inevitable happens.
There are many objections that many individuals and families raise for not preparing a will and or trust, some of the most common are, “I am still young,” “I do not own enough to worry about having a will,” “my family will know what to do.” Instead of “objections,” I should have said “excuses” as none of these are valid reasons not to have an estate plan that includes at minimum a will and ideally a will and trust.
If you have children you must, not “should” but must, have a legal written directive as to who will take care of your children should both parents become incapacitated, i.e. hit by a bus while on vacation in Mazatlan. A family consists of mom, dad and three children ages 12, 9 and 6. Mom and dad are on a long ski weekend in Utah and tragically killed in an avalanche. They each have two siblings. Where will the children live? Can they be kept together? What will happen with the home the family owned, who receives the proceeds? They had life insurance with only each other named as beneficiaries, how are those proceeds divided and ensure the children benefit? Eventually all these questions will be answered, but it will be expensive and the state, i.e. the courts, will be making the decisions for the family. It will take a lot of time and money at a time when everyone, especially the children will be deep in grief.
Will your family know what to do? What if your sister and your spouse’s sister do not get along and both feel they should be the guardians of your children should something tragic happen? How does that play out? “Bob told me we would get the children and raise them.” “Well Susie told me we would get the children and raise them.” The children have lost both parents and now will be in the middle of a legal fight between their aunts.
Even if you do not have a home or significant assets, you should have a will and ideally a trust. The will determines how your assets are divided upon your passing, the trust determines whether the bulk of your assets are transferred as you wish or if the bulk, or majority, of your assets will go through probate and potentially be subject to higher taxes, leaving less for your intended heirs.
Age is not a consideration. While statistics indicate that you should live into your late seventies as that is the life expectancy in the United States, one must consider the key word in the phrase “life expectancy.” Accidents and diseases happen to people of all ages. Whether you are 28 or 78 it is strongly advised you have a plan in place that protects your assets for your heirs and dictates what happens to those assets.
Once you have a plan make sure you keep it current. Did you prepare your will and trust when your children were in elementary school and now one or more are over the age of 18? Did you prepare your plan more than five, ten, fifteen years ago? Laws have changed, especially in California regarding inheritance and trusts, is yours compatible with current laws?
I have too many clients who when I ask if they have a trust say, “We keep planning on doing this…” Well, no you haven’t been planning on doing it, you have avoided doing it. Planning is sitting down with an attorney and discussing all the issues and matters that need to be addressed, saying you need to do it is not planning.
Every family needs to have an estate plan, and most single adults as well. A proper comprehensive plan will cost a bit of money. For those who want to save money, or get a “deal” or “bargain,” keep in mind that you will never know if your trust and estate plan was properly prepared or was able to fulfill your intentions. But your family will know and the legacy you do not want to leave is them having to spend significant time and resources with attorneys and the courts because you wanted to save money when creating your estate plan.
Being an adult, a responsible adult, comes with responsibilities. Many of those responsibilities cost money. There are many areas where it is advised you do not scrimp, save or look for deals. Some that come to mind for you and your family are brain surgery, an unlicensed electrician re-wiring your home, or a car seat for your baby. Add to this list estate planning. Scrimp, save money or look for deals when it comes to the $5 daily Starbucks purchase, the eating lunch out every day, buying a new car every two years, flying business class, don’t try to get by on the cheap when planning your estate when the results will have tremendous impact on your heirs, and ultimately your legacy with your family.
Don’t be Prince or Aretha.
Need someone to talk to? Call or email me.
Off my soapbox.
Have a question? Ask me!
Home sales softened in July. Data from the California Association of Realtors and the National Association of Realtors show existing home sales have softened in the number of sales and/or prices. Nationally existing home sales dipped 0.7% in July from June and the annual rate dipped to the lowest level since February 2016. More locally, sales of existing single family homes in California dropped 0.9% from June to July and 3.4% from July 2017 to July 2018, the statewide single family median price was down 1.9% month over month and up 7.6% from last July. Even more locally…sales in Los Angeles County were down 20.3% for the month and down 0.9% for the year, the median priced home in July was $597,520, up 2% for the month and 5.5% for the year. Moving south to Orange County 5.8% fewer homes sold in July from June and 1.4% fewer than July 2017. The median Orange County home sold for $829,000, down 0.8% from June and up 5.6% from a year ago. Inventory is still very low which has the impact of restricting the number of sales and putting upward pressure on prices as long as there is demand—which there appears to be as the median homeowners in Los Angeles and Orange Counties “made” $31,280 and $44,000 respectively with the price increases from last year. Between the higher prices and rates up around one-half of one percent (0.50%) from last July those who have been waiting to purchase a home have cost themselves quite a bit of money.
Rates for Friday August 24, 2018: Not a lot of economic news to move rates this week and all the domestic political talk did not impact markets. Looking ahead to next week there is potential for some rate impacting news, primarily the first revision of second quarter GDP and personal income and spending report which includes the inflation data the Fed uses for rates. If GDP is adjusted significantly higher and/or the inflation number comes in higher than June’s 0.4% price increase rates could bump up. Neither of these is expected to be reported, keyword “expected.”
FIXED RATE MORTGAGES AT COST OF 1.25 POINTS LOCKED FOR 45 DAYS:
30 year conforming 4.375% Flat
30 year high-balance conforming 4.50% Flat
Please note that these are base rates and adjustments may be added for condominiums, refinances, credit scores, loan to value, no impound account and period rate is locked. Rates are based on 20% down with 740 FICO score for purchase mortgages.
Long time readers of the Weekly Rate & Market Update, actually original readers received the first year or so of the update monthly, have tangentially watched our daughters grow up. When I started the WR&MU our oldest was probably in kindergarten and youngest in pre-school. Tomorrow Leslie and our oldest board a JetBlue aircraft early in the morning and head to Boston where our daughter will be moving into her dorm room at Boston University to start her freshman year. Seems like a long time ago I was writing in this space about tooth fairies and braces, while also seeming like yesterday. Go Terriers!
Have a great weekend,