What is a Trust?

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Trust ● a legal entity created through a written document that creates a fiduciary relationship in which one party, known as the trustor, gives another party, the trustee, the right to hold title to property and/or assets on behalf of one or more individuals, the beneciciary.

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Prince’s Estate Hires 2 Music Execs to Oversee Assets

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Prince died on April 21, 2016 and one of the most urgent questions for the music industry was how quickly the estate could hire professionals to handle the star’s vast collection of songs and other media content.

The answer was two months. On Friday, Bremer Trust, a Minnesota bank that is acting as the special administrator for #Prince’s [#probate] #estate, confirmed that it had appointed two seasoned executives, L. Londell McMillan and Charles A. Koppelman, to manage Prince’s entertainment #assets, according to Marcia A. Jensen, a spokeswoman for the bank.

Read the complete NY Times article here

I Am Not Famous, Do I Have a Legacy? Who Needs Legacy & Estate Planning?

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So many of the clients that I sit down with begin their objections with I am not some famous celebrity such and such so I do not have a legacy that anybody is going to care about. But what many of us often fail to realize is that in our worlds and to those closest to us, especially our relatives in most cases, we are each and every one of us a superstar – the only difference, the size of our stage. So when you have kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews who looks up to you and hang on your every word – those are your fans; that is your audience. And if you close your eyes for ten seconds, maybe you can see their grandkids’ grandkids many generations off into the future.

Each life is a unique story woven and developed over the special circumstances of your lifetime and is therefore priceless and irreplaceable. Once our stories are lost, they are just that – lost, forever. Is there a pressing question that you wish you could pose to one of your ancestors? Do you ever sit and wonder how your family came to be settled in blank place, somewhere town?

Every life is a story, every life is a legacy. We all have the opportunity to be proactive and plan for how our stories, our philosophies, business practices, beliefs and belongings will be handled now in this present moment of our lives as well as moving forward in a strategic and planned manner. This is the foundation of legacy and estate planning. When you look back throughout history you can find some excellent examples of excellent planners. Examining their lives and bodies of work what do rock legend John Lennon and crooner Bing Crosby have in common – seemingly not very much. However, following their passing, it became clear that each man had been both thoughtful and proactive in planning how their estates would be discreetly handled and efficiently dispersed.

We each have the opportunity to follow the examples of well-organized and proactive individuals or we can take the oft traveled path of the many whose stories are destined to the trash bins of history and who estates and affairs will be sorted out however by whomever. Which person are you? Are you going to be proactive and Celebrate Life? Or just let chips fall where they may and do nothing at all?

What is an Estate?

Everything you own constitutes your estate.

Everything you own constitutes your estate.

There is a common misbelief that “estates” are something that only the rich and famous possess. This misconception is possible because most people have no idea what constitutes an estate to begin with. On TV and in the movies the term estate is only used to describe or reference the rich and the wealthy, often describing huge lavish property and elegant decorations. In fact, any property, no matter how small or large, humble or extravagant is part of an estate. Land, condos, duplexes, townhomes, apartments and the single family home all make up people’s estates.

Simply put, an estate is everything that a person owns. It includes your favorite guitar, your collection of family photographs, your residence, cash, stocks, bonds, and other investments, retirement plans and businesses you own. If you are a creator, your estate includes all your works, including your paintings, drawings, prints, manuscripts, copyrights, trademarks and patents. For estate tax purposes, your estate also includes all life insurance policies in your name as well as your IRA’s or other retirement accounts. So again, your estate includes everything that you own, this includes all of your personal property, such as vehicles, jewelry, collectables and other treasured items.

Your estate is everything that you own. You own things, so congratulations… you have an estate.

*****

Donald L. West, Jr., JD, CTLP,  serves as the Associate Director of Education to the Legacy Institute, is a Chartered Legacy & Trusts Planner, a Personne De Confiance, the Creator of the Legacy Pyramid and co-author of A Step-By-Step Guide To Crafting Personal Legacy Statements.

The Legacy Institute, (A.I.L.E.P.), is an organization devoted to empowering families and closely-held business entities cultivate multi-generational connectedness, growth and prosperity.

Four Building Blocks for Your Legacy Plan

By: Don West, Jr., @DonWestJr

To Will or Not to Will?

Probably because June is National Make-A-Will Month, (promoted by LegalZoom, and brilliant for our industry and the families we serve), I have been entertaining the question,

Is estate planning just having a Will?

Certainly for centuries, possibly for millenia, a Will has been about the only practical tool available for those interested in multi-generational strategic planning and wealth transfer. With regards to estate planning today, the field has grown to be one of the most technically demanding and comprehensive areas of the law. With the growth of the field there are now dozens upon dozens of tools and instruments to assist and customize your estate planning goals.

Because estate planning embodies actions associated and tied to your hopes, dreams and concerns for yourself and for your loved ones there are many examples throughout history that show the use of Wills & Trusts to deal with personal property all the way back to the Roman empire. Additionally, Wills are functionally spoken of in the Old Testament (in Genesis 48), where Jacob bequeaths to his son Joseph, a portion of his inheritance, double to that of his brethren. Personal trust law developed in England at the time of the Crusades, during the 12th and 13th centuries. So you may be asking, what about my Spiritual or Intangible Estate, those intangible things that truly matter, the stories and ideas that uniquely make me, me? That is what Legacy Planning is all about.

What is Legacy Planning?

Legacy Planning is a compliment to the estate planning process and focuses on the intangible assets a person or family posses. In short, Legacy Planning deals with gifts from the Soul. A critical element in the generation of a legacy is the ability to maintain a tangible presence beyond the actual span of one’s lifetime. While physical assets may be deemed a component of a person’s ultimate legacy, the focus on family or institutional history, values and the stories that define us dictates that every individual, family and entity can be enriched through implementing a strategic legacy plan.

It must be pointed out that the requirements of Legacy Planning place you on an inward spiritual journey. As such, comprehensive Legacy Planning is not for everyone, however, the four tools we discuss here can be utilized by any one who is seeking to improve their processes and development.

So let’s jump right in, here is a quick introduction to the Four Building Blocks of a Basic Personal Legacy Plan. They are:

#1 – Definitive Chief Aim, Purpose and/or Vision;
#2 – Personal Mission Statement;
#3 – Personal Legacy Statement; and,
#4 – Strategic Life Plan

Definitive Chief Aim, Purpose and/or Vision

Success requires a concentration of effort. Most people disperse their energies over too many things and so fail to develop to be outstanding in anything. In the words of new age thought pioneer Orison Swett Marden,

“The world does not demand that you be a lawyer, minister, doctor, farmer, scientist, or merchant; it does not dictate what you shall do, but it does require that you be a master in whatever you undertake.”

So to be successful, one must align their energy with their higher aims and goals and industriously pursue their realization.

Personal Mission Statement

Is a series of guiding principles strategically developed to guide both your daily and major life decisions. Best-Selling author and productivity-entrepreneur Stephen R. Covey is a pioneer in the area of Personal Mission Statements, here he is with concise guidance on how to develop your own:

If you are ready to get started on your personal mission statement, Covey’s company, FranklinCovey, offers an excellent free online tool.

Personal Legacy StatementAllows you to articulate what is closest to your heart. It creates a record of the messages and information to valuable too be lost and captures your reflections for the benefit of others as a timeless gift to future generations. Tim Morrison and I put together this resource to assist with crafting your Legacy Statement:


Synopsis:

Decades from now, when your grandchildren peak to their grandchildren about you, what would you like them to share? Are there family traditions that you hold dear and hope that they continue for generations to come? How will future generations learn the origins and importance of those traditions? A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Personal Legacy Statements helps you identify and generate responses to these questions and more. This is not a “how-to” book for writing a life story or family history, but a dynamic tool for sharing a legacy, your or your family’s legacy. Who and what have shaped your life? What do you value most? What do you want future generations to remember about you? A Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting Personal Legacy Statements enables you to create powerful personalized messages to be shared at the time of your choosing during your life or after your time has passed.

Strategic Life Plan

Puts purpose and direction with quantifiable goals and objectives tied to your personal mission statement. This plan allows you to dream your perfect future and then develop the steps to actually achieve your desires. Blogger and Publishing guru Michael Hyatt has excellent free tool for Creating Your Personal Life P lan:


*****

Don West, Jr.

is a Personne De Confiance, the Creator of the Legacy Pyramid and co-author of A Step-By-Step Guide To Crafting Personal Legacy Statements. Don serves as the Associate Director of Education to the Legacy Institute and assists the NFL’s Ricky Williams and other professional athletes plan and execute their second-careers and Personal Legacies.

To Will or Not To Will?

June is National Make-A-Will Month

By: Don West, Jr., @DonWestJr
 

 

Why do people write wills?

 

Is it because they have realized the multi-generational connection between themselves and their families? Every person is unique and will have their own motivations for laying plans that reach beyond this mortal walk. Perhaps they desire that no one in their family get a dime and want to leave it all to charity? Whatever the motivation for you, reports state that only 30% of Americans have taken the time to put their wishes down in writing. That is only 3 out of 10 people. Are you 1 of the 7 who have not made written plans for the future? What would it take for you to get a written plan in place by the end of this month? Would that be something of value to you and your family? If you are 1 of the 3 out of 10 who do have a written plan, when was the last time you checked it for accuracy? Is it time for a tune-up?

 

What exactly is a Will?

 

A Will or Last Will & Testament is a legal document usually requiring the signatures of witnesses and outlines the final distribution of your property and possessions, designating your wishes for who takes responsibility for your minor children and/or disabled dependents on the event of your passing, as well as other issues you desire to address.

 

Should everyone have a Will?

 

Not necessarily. I will is an often used tool, but there are a few things to consider when choosing if a will is right for your situation. A Will requires a process called Probate, which takes place in a Court and all the documents are public records. As you may recall was the case with Michael Jackson, his mother had to go to Court and ask permission to spend money and ultimately we all got to read and see what MJ did with his earthly wealth. Is Probate the only option? There are many ways that you can execute your plans, one of the most popular and well known after the will is Revocable Living Trust or Living Trust for short.

 

The Living Trust has its own distinguishing attributes including that it does not require Probate to transfer your property and it is intended to keep your instructions private and shielded from the public record. Before jumping into the deep-end of the Living Trust ‘pool’ you should understand that all your property that has a title must be transferred to the Living Trust and no longer be held in your name. A seasoned adviser can answer your questions and help you determine if a will or a trust is right for you.

 

What about my stories and our family history, do they go in a will or a trust?

 

Both a Will and a Living Trust are legal documents are are only intended to handle the disposition of your tangible possessions. However, if you engage the services of a Legacy Specialist such as myself, we also provide tools and resources that allow for the orderly accumulation and preservation of what may be your most valuable assets – your thoughts, processes and opinions. Your interesting point of view is currently 1 in 7 billion and that makes yours priceless and invaluable if you choose to organize, preserve and share it. Your life has a story and that story is a part of your legacy. Every life is a legacy.

 

 

Who needs a written plan?

 

Almost everyone can benefit from having a written Legacy & Estate Plan. If you own things or have minor children something must happen when you transition, there is no way to avoid this absolute of life. Take control and responsibility today, it is very important.

 

Have a question, just ask. So, do you have an up-to-date written plan?

 

LET’s GET STARTED TODAY

 

Don West, Jr.

is the Creator of the Legacy Pyramid and counsels individuals, families and organizations on the subject of Legacy Development & Preservation. Don serves as the Associate Director of Education to the Legacy Institute and assists the NFL’s Ricky Williams and other professional athletes plan and execute their second-careers and Personal Legacies.

 

EP-Article: A Candidate’s Tax Return Shows Estate Planning

US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney tax returns show that his family has taken the opportunity to organize and plan for their future generations.  Wonder if their family has a Legacy Plan or a written 100-Year Plan?   You can read this article to see what his tax returns reveal:

American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys Blog http://www.aaepa.com/blog/2012/01/candidates-tax-return-shows-estate-planning/