WILLS, TRUSTS, POWERS OF ATTORNEY,
JOINT OWNERSHIP, AND BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
A life of STEWARDSHIP WELL DONE includes creating a plan to ensure that your loved ones are well cared for after you are gone. You can also leave a meaningful legacy by providing a gift for those ministries that have been important to you during your lifetime.
Below you will find a brief explanation of several basic estate planning tools:
WILLS AND TRUSTS
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
Over the years, assisting people with estate plans has been one of our most impactful ministries. If you choose to engage with us regarding an estate plan, we want you to be well informed of our document process each and every step of the way. We work with outstanding Christian attorneys who help provide documents to you below market cost.
WILLS AND TRUSTS
A will and a trust are two common estate planning instruments. Which one you choose will depend on your assets, beneficiaries and goals.
LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT
A will is a signed and witnessed document that describes where you want your property to go when you pass away. Each state has its own rules regarding how to create a valid will. Many people first create a will in order to appoint a guardian to care for minor children in their absence. A will is also the place where you appoint a personal representative (executor) to manage the administration of your estate following your death. A will is revocable, which means you can make changes to it at any time. Initially, a will is less expensive to create than a trust, but there will likely be more expenses after you pass away due to the will going through the public probate process.
DID YOU KNOW … more than half of all Americans do not have a will? If you die without a will, assets owned in your name only without a beneficiary designation will likely be distributed according to a formula determined by the state in which you reside. The attorneys we work with advise that EVERYONE should have at least a simple will as part of their estate plan.
REVOCABLE LIVING TRUST
Unlike a will, a revocable living trust is a private document that is not subject to the time consuming and costly public probate process. While a will only goes into effect after your death, a trust provides a trustee to manage your property during your life, including any time of incapacity, as well as after you pass away. Like a will, the provisions of a revocable living trust can be changed. A trust does take more time, money and effort to set up and manage properly during your lifetime, but it should be less cumbersome and costly for your heirs upon your death. For estates valued over the current state or federal estate tax exclusion amount, additional provisions can be included in a trust for married couples to maximize savings and reduce estate taxes.
If you have a revocable living trust, you will need to make the time and effort to transfer your assets to the trust during your lifetime. CLICK HERE for more information about the FUNDING PROCESS, including a short video.
CREATE YOUR OWN LEGACY
Whether you choose to create a will or a revocable living trust, there are a number of ways you can include Free Methodist ministries in your plan and create a legacy to be remembered. One of the easiest ways to fulfill your charitable goals and help continue the work of Free Methodist ministries is through a BEQUEST. Specific language can be incorporated into your will or trust making a gift to a particular ministry of a specific asset, a specific amount, a percentage of your estate, or the residue (what’s left after specific bequests are made to your family). Your estate will receive a charitable deduction for the gift. We would be happy to discuss with you which assets may be more beneficial to use for charitable gifts and which may reduce the taxes owed by your heirs.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
In addition to a will and/or trust, financial and health care powers of attorney are part of any good estate plan. These documents prepare you for a time when you may become incapacitated and are unable to care for your everyday needs.
FINANCIAL POWERS OF ATTORNEY
This document allows you to name a person (and successors) to take care of your finances, much as you would do if you were able. It is usually effective as soon as it is signed, so you will want to name an agent you thoroughly trust.
HEALTH CARE POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to choose who will make health care decisions on your behalf. In general, this person will only act if you are absolutely unable to communicate in any way, including by blinking your eyes or squeezing a hand.
This document tells your doctors and loved ones what heroic life sustaining measures you would like to be taken or refused. It will also likely address artificial nutrition and hydration and when they may be withheld or withdrawn. Depending on the state where you reside, a Living Will can be a separate document from a Health Care Power of Attorney, or they may be combined into one document.
JOINT OWNERSHIP AND BENEFICIARY DESIGNATIONS
Joint ownership and beneficiary designations are often used with a will and/or trust to distribute your assets to loved ones or ministries upon your death. When used correctly, joint ownership and beneficiary designations help to keep assets out of the probate process.
Joint ownership allows, you can name someone to be a joint owner of that asset with you. This is commonly used by husbands and wives for bank accounts and real property. When the first owner passes away, the remaining owner will continue to own the asset without the involvement of the court.
Beneficiary designations allow you to name someone to become the owner of an asset once all owners of the asset pass away. In many cases, you can name more than one beneficiary, such as naming all of your children to receive equal shares. It is also possible for you to name a ministry you love to receive a percentage. You can usually also name a contingent or secondary beneficiary in case your primary beneficiary passes away before you.
Joint ownership and beneficiary designations can be useful in some specific circumstances with good legal counsel. But they can often have unintended consequences. You should not rely solely on joint ownership and beneficiary designations to take care of your entire estate. They should be always be coupled with a will or a trust.
GET IN TOUCH WITH US
Ready to begin the conversation? If you have any questions about any of these estate planning documents, contact us today! Our REGIONAL REPRESENTATIVES would be happy to talk with you anytime.
CONTACT US TODAY TO BEGIN THE CONVERSATION
We believe that with effective counsel and financial management, each person can multiply the impact of the resources entrusted to their care.
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Tuesday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Wednesday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Thursday: 8:00am – 5:00pm
Friday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
FMF Financial Services
8050 Spring Arbor Rd
PO Box 580
Spring Arbor, MI 49283
(517) 750-2727: phone
(517) 750-2752: fax