What You Don’t Know…Or Don’t Do…Will Cost Your Family

11 Common Mistakes That Cost Your Family Money When You Die…..

And How To Avoid Them

If  you think life is complicated, death can be even more so, as authors Kathy Lane and Christine Hughes explore in Die$mart.

Most people, myself included are not aware of the mechanics of will’s, trusts, gifts, and the other plethora of terms that are used when dealing with the estate of someone who has passed on. It transpires that death is indeed a very complicated business unless you want the government to claim a large portion of the assets. In fact problems can arise even before you die. A good example of that is health care, if you are incapacitated in some manner what are your wishes as to care?

A great example of that problem occurred several years ago. Terry Schiavo was a 26 year old woman who suffered brain damage following a heart attack. The damage left her in a permanent vegetative state and was being kept alive by feeding tubes. Terri’s husband Michael argued that Terri would not wish to live this way and the tubes should be removed and Terri allowed to die with dignity. Terri’s parents on the other hand argued that their daughter should be kept alive, a miracle might happen. For seven long years this case meandered its way through the court system, eventually arriving in the US Supreme Court. The Supremes sided with Michael and the tubes were removed. It is unknown what the financial burden on the families was, but likely several hundred thousand dollars. All because there were no written instructions.

The Schiavo story reveals that incapacity and death is not just for the old. Die$mart suggests that regardless of your age you should take action to ensure that in the advent of some catastrophic event your wishes will be followed.

Another issue is what happens to your assets after your death? ‘No problem, I have a will’, I hear you say. Well a will is a good start, but are you protecting your assets, or are you merely handing them over to the government?

The one thing that I did learn from reading Die$mart, do not make assumptions. The tax status of your assets is a very complex area. In fact even through Die$mart does an excellent job of explaining some strategies, it is my contention that everyone has a unique set of circumstances and you should spend some time talking with a professional, it will be money well spent. If your  estate is valued at $1,000,000 I am sure that you would like your heirs to receive that million, not just 50% of it.

Death is not a subject that many people want to contemplate, yet it is an inevitability, as the saying goes there are two certainties, death and taxes. One you cannot avoid, but the other you can minimize by exercising some good judgment.

You can order your copy of Die$mart from Amazon, there is also a companion web site with additional tools. The text makes frequent reference to sections on the web site. While I said earlier that you should talk with a professional, I do think that Die$mart is a valuable tool, it will assist you in understanding the benefits and drawbacks of what the professionals recommend. There is after all, no free lunch!

Simon Barrett

Be Sociable, Share!