February 10, 2014
Black Enterprise Financial All-Star: Lori Ann Douglass Talks End of Life Planning
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 ifÂ 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.
BeforeÂ serious illness or disability strikes,Â I recommend that you: 1) appoint aÂ healthÂ careÂ proxyÂ to make your medical decisions,Â 2) prepare aÂ livingÂ will to set forth yourÂ preferences in regards toÂ end-of-lifeÂ options andÂ 3) execute a financial power of attorney to ensure that your finances will beÂ used to take care of you and your dependentsÂ during any period of incapacity.
Having aÂ last will and testament (a “will”) is critical. AÂ will,Â including trusts for those withÂ assets requiring aÂ more complex estate plan,Â ensures that yourÂ estate is administered byÂ representatives of yourÂ choice inÂ accordance with your wishes.Â If you do not have aÂ will, state laws rule.
None of us want the government to decide whoÂ inheritsÂ ourÂ home and otherÂ assets such as realÂ estate,Â cash, stocks, bonds,Â mutual funds, retirement accountsÂ (including a 401(k), IRA or other deferred compensation plan),Â life insurance benefitsÂ orÂ business interests.Â Moreover, when we die there are not only assets to distribute, but debts, including estate and income taxes, toÂ pay.Â Without a will,Â theÂ estate administration is often overlyÂ time-consuming,Â expensive and often results in life-long hostilities among beneficiaries.
The most difficult part of my practice is watchingÂ the destruction of a close-knit family and financial legacyÂ that could have been avoided simply by having an effective disability and estate plan.Â Moreover, as African Americans we need to acquire, preserve and transfer ourÂ estates in a matter that willÂ create, not diminish, generational wealth. A comprehensive disability and estate plan isÂ the best way to care for yourself if you become incapacitated. Successfully transfer your assets upon your death and demonstrateÂ to your family members that you are concerned about their futureÂ today and always.
Simply stated:Â do yourÂ disability and estate planningÂ now.
Stay tuned for more expert advice from our financial all-stars in the coming weeks.