Reflecting on the All-Important Will
Just One Part of Your Complete Estate Planning Package
With fuel and food prices sky high, it's natural for a family to think about its future financial security. The last place you might think to look for help in such matters is a Hindu monastery. But, in addition to spiritual direction, monasteries around the world offer practical guidance to help stabilize society during changing times. Many of you have supported the monastery for years, and we in turn want to help your family's future. That is one reason the monastery is happy to provide a free, well-thought-out estate planning tool kit.
A good estate plan will not make high prices lower. But it will protect your family from unnecessary court costs, attorney fees and taxes. These can do real damage, especially at a time when prices continue to trend upward.
One of the most basic but misunderstood estate planning tools is the will. Some people think a will avoids probate, the costly court process that supervises the distribution of wealth to others at death. Not true. Your will is a ticket to probate court. Think of your will as a letter to the judge, telling him or her who gets your estate. The judge supervises distribution following your will, making sure the right people get the right things.
Some think the executor of your will can step in and manage your assets if you are too ill to do so. Not true. The executor has no power until after your death.
Some think wills can direct who gets everything you own. Not true. Some of your assets--life insurance and retirement plans, for example--indicate who gets what through their own beneficiary designations. Wills cannot simply override these designations.
Despite these and other limitations-- costs, delay, and their public nature--wills are a blessing to families who would otherwise watch helplessly as the court distributes their loved one's estate according to an impersonal formula that might have little to do with the decedent's wishes.
This is why a will is usually the first document people think of when drafting an estate plan. Even so, 58 percent of adult Americans don't have one according to a new survey from lawyers.com. Here are some other interesting statistics from the survey's findings:   * 18 percent of Americans experience problems, due to a lack of or a flawed estate plan, after the death or incapacitation of a loved one.
* Nearly eight percent of Americans without an estate plan say they do not have one because they do not want to think about dying or incapacity.
Most attorneys encourage their clients to consider a living trust, a power of attorney for property management, an advance health care directive and a will. These are all topics covered in the estate planning tool kit.
Strengthen your family's future and continue your support of Kauai's Hindu Monastery by requesting your estate planning tool kit today. Contact Shanmuganathaswami at 808-822-3012 x 244 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive it by e-mail.
Hindu Heritage Endowment is a publicly supported, charitable organization recognized as tax exempt by the IRS on April 22, 1994. Employer ID 99-0308924. Founded by Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami, its philanthropic mission is to provide secure, professionally managed financial support for institutions and religious leaders of all lineages of Sanatana Dharma.
Halbert/Hargrove, Investment Counsel; Sonoda & Isara, LLP, CPA. HHE is a member of the Council on Foundations, an association of more than 2,000 foundations which interprets relevant law and management and investment principles, and of the National Committee on Planned Giving, the voice and professional resource for the gift planning community.
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