Black Enterprise Financial All-Star: Lori Ann Douglass Talks End of Life Planning

Advice from Black Enterprise's top experts

Black Enterprise talked to some of the top financial planners, investment advisers, real estate professionals, tax accountants, and insurance agents to get their best advice for your money. Over the next few weeks, BE will share their tips.

BE Financial All-Star: Lori Anne Douglass, Partner, Moses & Singer LLP

Advice from Douglass:

It’s difficult to think about who will make decisions for you if you become disabled or who will inherit your property in the event of your death. However, the reality is many of us will become physically or mentally disabled for a significant period in life and all of us will die—we just don’t know when.

Before serious illness or disability strikes, I recommend that you: 1) appoint a health care proxy to make your medical decisions, 2) prepare a living will to set forth your preferences in regards to end-of-life options and 3) execute a financial power of attorney to ensure that your finances will be used to take care of you and your dependents during any period of incapacity.

Having a last will and testament (a “will”) is critical. A will, including trusts for those with assets requiring a more complex estate plan, ensures that your estate is administered by representatives of your choice in accordance with your wishes. If you do not have a will, state laws rule.

None of us want the government to decide who inherits our home and other assets such as real estate, cash, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts (including a 401(k), IRA or other deferred compensation plan), life insurance benefits or business interests. Moreover, when we die there are not only assets to distribute, but debts, including estate and income taxes, to pay. Without a will, the estate administration is often overly time-consuming, expensive and often results in life-long hostilities among beneficiaries.

The most difficult part of my practice is watching the destruction of a close-knit family and financial legacy that could have been avoided simply by having an effective disability and estate plan. Moreover, as African Americans we need to acquire, preserve and transfer our estates in a matter that will create, not diminish, generational wealth. A comprehensive disability and estate plan is the best way to care for yourself if you become incapacitated. Successfully transfer your assets upon your death and demonstrate to your family members that you are concerned about their future today and always.

Simply stated: do your disability and estate planning now.

Stay tuned for more expert advice from our financial all-stars in the coming weeks.

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