Are You Ready for 2014 National Estate Planning Awareness Week?

In 2008 the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (or NAEPC for short), in conjunction with Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and 49 of his colleagues, co-sponsored and helped pass H. Res. 1499, which declared the third week in October National Estate Planning Awareness Week (or NEPAW for short). This means that in 2014, National Estate Planning Awareness Week falls on October 20 through 26.

NAEPC works with over 230+ local estate planning councils to educate its 27,000+ members on all areas of estate planning and emphasizes a multi-disciplinary approach to estate planning involving all members of a client’s financial advisory team, including attorneys, accountants, financial advisors, and life insurance agents. In addition, through its foundation known as The NAEPC Education Foundation, NAEPC has an ongoing commitment to promote financial awareness and literacy in estate and financial planning throughout the year.

As leaders in the financial and estate planning community, members of NAEPC have first-hand experience with the challenges Americans face with regard to saving, investing, and planning for their financial futures. For example:

  • The majority of Americans over 65 are totally dependent on their Social Security checks. With proper knowledge and planning, future generations can have a more secure retirement.
  • It is estimated that over 120 million Americans do not have an up-to-date estate plan to protect themselves and their families, making estate planning one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. By planning now instead of after a crisis happens, issues such as guardianship of children, managing bill paying and assets in the event of sickness or disability, care of a special needs child, long-term care needs, and distribution of retirement assets can all be handled with sensitivity and care at a reasonable cost.
  • The majority of Americans lack the ability to adequately plan for their retirement. This can be changed immediately with knowledge and the right planning tools.
  • Many people mistakenly believe that since they aren’t “rich” they don’t need to do any financial and estate planning at all. Estate planning is not just for the wealthy and is important for everyone. This attitude can be financially harmful in the long-run and can be avoided with a proactive approach.

With these factors in mind, NAEPC is offering a free, one hour webinar on Monday, October 20, 2014, at 3 pm EDT, presented by Martin M. Shenkman, CPA, PFS, MBA, JD, AEP® (Distinguished), called “Basic Estate Planning in 12 Steps.”  Visit NAEPC’s website to sign up:  NAEPC – For the Public.

In addition, local estate planning councils will be offering programs to educate the public on the importance of initial estate planning as well as updating old estate plans as the years go by. A list of local estate planning councils can be found on the NAEPC website so that you can check for a program in your area, or if there is not a local estate planning council close to you, then make it a point this week to locate and meet with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area to discuss all of your estate planning needs.

You can also visit The NAEPC Education Foundation’s website called EstatePlanningAnwers.org for informative articles about estate planning, disability planning, long term care planning, estate and trust administration, and financial planning.

Do You Still Have a Last Minute Vacation Estate Plan?

It’s that time of the year again – time for estate planning attorneys to slap together a few quickie, last minute estate plans that are signed in a hurry right before mom, dad and the kids head out for summer vacation. While I’m sure that statistically speaking the odds of dying while you’re on vacation aren’t any different from the odds of dying when you’re not, for many the family vacation is the tipping point for deciding to get their final affairs in order.

Don’t get me wrong – I really do believe that anything that motivates someone to put together an estate plan is a good thing. But what I find to be the biggest problem with a last minute vacation estate plan is that in many cases the plan is viewed as a “stop gap plan” to cover the bare minimum and will be updated to a more comprehensive plan when the family returns from vacation. And then low and behold, the quickie plan is thrown in a drawer where it sits for years and is never updated, and when the time comes to use the plan it fails miserably.

I have one favor to ask – when you return from summer vacation, please pull your estate planning documents out of the drawer, dust them off, and see if they still make sense for you and your family.  If the documents were signed in a hurry right before you went on vacation, then chances are they will be out of touch with your current personal and financial situations.  Of course, the same goes for any estate planning documents that are more than a few years old, since significant changes have been made to federal estate tax laws since 2010 and the plan that made perfect sense in 2010 may create a mess in 2014.  The same goes for state estate taxes – there have been lots of changes recently to those laws too.  Thus, there’s no time like the present to get your estate plan up to date.

Photo: Old Savannah Cotton Exchange, Savannah, GA (can you guess where I went on vacation?)