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National News

Monday, 16 July, 2007 1:05 AM

Who Gets Your Money When You Die?

Nationally Acclaimed Estate Planner Reveals How To Avoid Critical Mistakes

Most of us don’t like to think about our own death. But if we don’t plan ahead, death can place our families under even greater duress and anxiety while they’re grieving. After all, if you think the concept of probate is confusing under normal circumstances, imagine your loved ones trying to navigate the system in the midst of emotional despair. Equally troubling is the uncertainty your family faces while financial assets that are supposed to support them are tied up in probate for months-- and possibly years. That’s why estate planning is crucial to give your family a sense of security. Yet a whopping 70% of Americans have not planned for their families’ future.

David Phillips, nationally acclaimed estate planner and author of the new book, “Estate Planning Made Easy” (Kaplan Publishing 2007) believes that once more people understand the harsh reality of what can happen without an estate plan, they’ll realize why it’s critical to make sure their families are taken care of when they die. “Listen, no one likes to think about their own death,” says Phillips. “But the fact is that we all unfortunately will die and we can’t take it with us. If you plan ahead, you ensure that the bulk of your wealth is given to people of your choosing and not the government.”

Truly, would you actually write a will leaving all of your earthly belongings to the IRS, or would you leave them to your family? The estate tax codes are confusing and that’s one reason why many people balk at the mention of estate planning. Estate Planning Made Easy walks people step-by-step through the process and explains clearly what the laws mean.

“Confusion over recent tax codes is a key reason why you should develop a strong estate plan,” says Phillips. “After a loved one has died, everyone is emotional and in some cases, people are truly shell shocked. So understandably, they simply don’t have the ability to grapple with complicated issues--who wants to deal with tax laws and guessing what a loved one’s intents were? But the truth is without proper planning the IRS can wind up with a dramatically bigger chunk of what you’ve worked so hard to earn.”

Many people operate under the delusion that estate planning is only for the super rich. It’s not. Or they believe that simply picking up a ‘fill-in-the-blanks will’ at an office supply store will suffice. “While that’s a step in the right direction, estate planning involves some complicated strategies,” says Phillips. “The most valuable piece of information I can give anyone is to seek qualified professional help. Deciding how to distribute your assets is not a good time to dabble in do-it yourself ventures.”

Phillips points out that by not planning ahead, you risk the chance of significantly reducing the size of your estate and causing emotional chaos for the family members left behind. With his 35 years of experience, he’s seen first-hand the impact a solid estate plan can have for a family. He also knows the most common pitfalls people make. In addition to estate planning strategies, interpretation of the new estate tax laws and a wealth of other helpful information, Estate Planning Made Easy outlines those common mistakes and how to avoid them:

  • Failure to have a plan/or having an improper plan
  • Misunderstanding the 2001 Tax Act (EGTRRA)/the impact it has on your estate
  • Improper use of jointly held property
  • Blindly leaving everything to your spouse
  • Not properly using the IRS-approved annual gift allowances
  • Failure to properly plan the distribution of your pension/retirement accounts
  • Lacking liquidity to cover estate settlement expenses
  • Improperly arranged and owned life insurance
  • Not properly preparing for exorbitant cost of long-term medical care
  • Not leaving your life story for your family to enjoy forever

 

Estate Planning Made Easy
by David T. Phillips and Bill S. Wolfkiel
239 pp., Hardback $21.95 US
Publisher: Kaplan, 2007


Available at www.amazon.com www.epmez.com, Borders, Walden’s Books

 

About the author:

David T. Phillips is a best-selling author and nationally recognized consumer advocate for insurance, annuities and estate planning. He has been recommended by many respected high profile investment advisors and financial editors including Suze Orman, Terry Savage and Andrew Tobias. He is a frequent guest on national TV including Money Talks, The Financial Advisors, Bloomberg and CNBC. His best-selling books include Estate Planning Made Easy and Profiting From the Insurance Revolution. His special reports and articles have been published in hundreds of periodicals.

He is the CEO of Phillips Financial Services LLC and CEO and founder of Estate Planning Specialists LLC. With clients and Select Estate Planners in every state, his companies have helped thousands of Americans in properly planning their estates. He is a featured speaker at investment conferences nationwide.

Phillips is the coach of the Arizona State University Water Ski Team. He and his wife Jane have four children. Todd, their oldest, is the President of Estate Planning Specialists, LLC.

Source: Event Management Services, Inc.

 

 

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