Saturday, September 5, 2015

The "Stuff" of Estate Planning

At the law firm of Rebecca W. Geyer & Associates, our goal is to be a resource for clients, combining clear and concise legal recommendations with responsiveness and compassion.
As estate planning lawyers, we know that you want to protect not only the people most important to you, but also the assets you’ve worked a lifetime to achieve. Often, those include not only financial assets and real estate, but also “stuff”. For today’s post, our blog team interviewed three professionals:

Ronnie:  What sort of “stuff” problems are you helping your clients solve ?

Steve Yoke:  When seniors are in the process of downsizing, they have so many different financial decisions they need to make that dealing with their non-financial assets becomes overwhelming. Sometimes the transfer to assisted living or a nursing home must be done quickly, and family members are left with the task of disposing of assets and selling the home. Many individuals worry about their spouses outliving them and needing to deal with disposing of all their items. A natural disaster may have happened, such as the recent flood in Mooresville, that forces a decision to move. And, of course, after an owner’s death, the heirs need help distributing or disposing of the collected items.

Ronnie: Obviously, it would be better if a senior didn’t wait for an emergency to arise when disposing of their assets. What do you advise clients when it comes to downsizing?

Brandon Roger:  We call it “rightsizing”, and of course the best idea is to start early. “Stuff’ takes up space, and space planning begins with where the senior is going. An accurate space plan determines what can be moved, the amount of space available for treasures, and household items that need to be liquidated. Assets often have high emotional value yet low financial value. One of our clients, for example, had taught music at her home for many years and owned close to 300 music books. There would be no room for this music library in her new retirement community unit into which she was headed, and her children had no need for the books whose resale value were very low. The happy outcome came in the form of a donation of the books to a charity that provided piano lessons for underprivileged youngsters. There’s a lot of thinking that goes into each detail when seniors are making a transition to a smaller residence.

Ronnie:  It sounds as if all of you are part of a growing industry that has to do with seniors transitioning from homes to retirement facilities. How does the process typically start?

Rita Woll:  We’re often called in by adult children to help organize their parents’ move. And, yes, we are part of the move management industry which has been around since 2002. There is, in fact, a National Association of Senior Move Managers of which I’m a member.  I think all professionals who help seniors make a transition to a new residence would agree that the work is incredibly detail-oriented. We help you sort, organize, de-clutter, even going through jacket pockets and draws to make sure no personal items are lost or left behind in your move. We have to make sure that electronic elements such as old cell phone parts and computer parts are properly recycled, and that hazardous materials such as paint and cleaning solutions are properly disposed of.

At Geyer Law, we found that many of our clients needed estate disposition assistance which extends beyond the legal aspects of estate planning and estate settlement. As our senior clients downsize, perhaps making a transition from a home to assisted living, the assessment and disposition of “stuff” is one important step in the process. After a death in the family, heirs settling an estate appreciate compassionate counsel when it comes to disposing of a loved one’s non-financial “stuff”.

- by Ronnie of the Geyer Law blog team

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