Securing Your Estate Plan
Key Points – Securing Your Estate Plan:
- Estate planning examples
- The consequences of dying intestate
- The costs of probate
- Advanced healthcare directives
- 20 minute read | 37 minutes to listen
Did you know that the most expensive estate plan is actually the lack of an estate plan? Join Dean Barber and Bud Kasper as they discuss securing your estate planning and mistakes to avoid. They have some interesting stories to tell and some tricks and tips to make sure that your estate plan is right for you.
Securing Your Estate Plan
Dean Barber: Thanks so much for joining us here on America’s Wealth Management Show. I’m your host, Dean Barber, along with Bud Kasper.
Estate Planning is Critical
Bud, we’ve got a subject today that is not a lot of fun to talk about, but it’s critical, it’s part of a comprehensive financial plan, and it’s the part that I think is overlooked an awful lot, doesn’t get enough attention. And the
It doesn’t get enough attention because it’s not a subject that people want to discuss.
Bud Kasper: Nobody wants to talk about dying, but it’s just part of life and something critical, and it’s an essential part of the planning process.
Dean Barber: Yeah. So what we’re going to do is we’re going to walk you through some estate planning mistakes today, some estate planning mistakes that we want you to avoid.
Estate Planning Podcasts
Dean Barber: Be sure to find The Guided Retirement Show™ on your favorite podcast app; look for episodes eight and nine. Bud, I just completed an interview with a guy named Dr. Molk, and he is an emergency room physician for, I think it’s 35 years.
Bud Kasper: Wow.
Dean Barber: And the things that he has seen.
Bud Kasper: I bet.
Upcoming Guest Dr. Molk’s Experience with Healthcare Directives
Dean Barber: The lack of healthcare directives and lack of healthcare powers of attorney, he’s like, “I don’t understand why people don’t talk about this. I don’t understand why people don’t.”
Subscribe to The Guided Retirement Show™, and you’ll get a notification when my interview with Dr. Molk comes out. That podcast will come out on August 17th.
No One Wants to Talk About Dying
Bud Kasper: Yeah, that’s great. One of the issues I think is that people don’t want to talk about dying, and who blames them?
Dean Barber: Right.
Bud Kasper: But it is a fact of life. And how ridiculous is it that you’ve saved all your life, you’ve accumulated wealth in a lot of different areas, and not being able to distribute those the way you want them distributed-
Dean Barber: Yeah.
Bud Kasper: It’s a huge mistake. And by the way, Uncle Sam’s just over there wringing his hands waiting for the money to come in if you don’t do it the right way.
It’s Not All About Dying
Dean Barber: Well, and yeah, that’s a part of it, Bud, but the other part is that people know where they want their assets and their money to go when they’re gone. Whether it’s charitable, whether it’s individuals, you want your money to go to the people you love and the causes you love and care about.
Bud Kasper: Right.
Dean Barber: And you want it done right.
Example: Divorce & Estate Planning
So, we have an example right now of something happening where a client passed away; the client happened to be divorced, okay? The client went to an attorney, and he got an estate plan done. In the estate plan, he said that he wanted his son to inherit his IRA.
Bud Kasper: Okay.
Dean Barber: Okay? And yet, he never changed the beneficiary on his IRA to be his son. He thought because he put this in his will, that that would make it happen.
Well, unfortunately, his ex-wife was still the beneficiary of the IRA. And as you and I know, because we’ve studied for years with America’s IRA expert, Ed Slott, that the IRA will go to the ex-spouse, not to the son.
Bud Kasper: Yeah. So what you’re saying is that the IRA document superseded anything that was in the will.
Dean Barber: Right.
Update Your Beneficiary Forms!
Bud Kasper: That’s also true of 401(k)s as well, so it’s a critical point, and we’ve seen that breached many times.
One of the things we do at these Slott meetings, folks, is we go through all these private letter rulings, which are people who made an error in their estate planning, and now they’re trying to get the government to come in and come in to reverse it for them.
Estate Planning Isn’t Only for the Ultra-Wealthy
Dean Barber: Right. And I think, Bud, that a lot of people believe that, “Well, estate planning is only for the ultra-wealthy,” and that’s-
Bud Kasper: Not true.
Dean Barber: Not true at all.
Bud Kasper: No.
Dean Barber: The previous example is a perfect illustration. It wasn’t a huge IRA, maybe two or $300,000, so it’s not like this was a big deal, but people don’t understand that whatever your beneficiary form says on your retirement account, it trumps what your will or trust says.
Bud Kasper: Yeah. And remember, that includes IRAs-
Dean Barber: and 401(k)s. Yeah.
Repeat it for the Back: Update Your Beneficiary Forms!
Bud Kasper: Every meeting we have with a client, the first thing we do before we get into the actual content of what the meeting is about is we go through the beneficiary forms—every time.
Dean Barber: Yeah.
Bud Kasper: We’ll tell some more stories as we go through the program, but there are some horror stories out there.
Dying Intestate Comes with Consequences
Dean Barber: There is. Here’s the thing. If you don’t have an estate plan, many people don’t do anything, but it’s called dying intestate if you die without a will.
Bud Kasper: Right. Yeah, without a will.
Dean Barber: And if all you have is a will, then you’re essentially guaranteeing that your estate will go through probate, okay? So without a will, if that’s all you do, you’re going to go through probate, okay? So I want to run through some costs here, Bud.
I jotted these down. Missouri is the easiest one to discuss here. On $100,000, it’s $6,600 to go through probate. For a $500,000 estate, it’s $28,100. On a million-dollar estate, to go through probate, $53,100. If you have a $2 million estate, $93,100 to go through probate.
The Costs Compared
Now, listen. A well-done trust with the trust fully funded, meaning that the company that set up your trust took the time to make sure all of your assets are titled correctly and all your beneficiaries are correct.
They did it all, $3,500, $4,000 to get everything completely done. If you’ve got a $100,000 estate and it goes through probate, it’s $5,000 to go through probate, and then it’s public, and it takes forever.
Bud Kasper: Right. Oh my gosh. I hadn’t heard those numbers. Those are critical.
Dean Barber: Isn’t that crazy?
Bud Kasper: Yeah.
Dean Barber: Bud, I mean, you and I have so many stories that we’ve witnessed over the years of just what not to do.
An Example: Another Divorce & Estate Planning Story
Bud Kasper: I wish I could recall all of them. To that end, though, I do have a story. I was introduced to a woman whose parents were pretty well off, and they were in the late stages of their life. Long story short, they passed away. They left everything to their daughter.
In the process of that, when she received this money, and it was a seven-digit situation, they put it into an account in both her name and her husband’s name. Now that might seem logical to you, but in this horrible situation I’m talking about, now we have a different title on there. What I mean is its marital property.
Dean Barber: Yeah, joint tenancy with right of survivorship.
Bud Kasper: Yeah. And this guy came in, and he filed for a divorce. So now he had a windfall that came in from her parents, and he got half of that money in the divorce settlement. There are no issues with it. Marital property is just what it is, and that’s where it’s going to favor.
Beneficiary Controlled Trust
Dean Barber: Yep. So one of the ways you fix that is by creating something called a beneficiary-controlled trust. When you make a beneficiary-controlled trust, it gets created at the death of the original trustees. So let’s say, for example, Bud, that my wife and I have a trust, which we do.
If both of us were to pass away, there would then be beneficiary-controlled trusts set up for each of our five children so that the assets they receive would go into a trust, an irrevocable trust created by my trust. What that does is it allows the children to be the trustee of the trust.
Then if something happens where there is a threat to breach those assets by divorce, by a lawsuit by bankruptcy, creditors, whatever it is, they can step down as trustee, appoint a corporate trustee, and lock the assets down. The idea here is to ensure that the money passed to the next generation stays in the family bloodline. Right?
Bud Kasper: Exactly.
Protecting Beneficiaries from Themselves
Dean Barber: But it doesn’t remove control from your beneficiaries. Now, if you want to limit control to them, you can do that as well.
Bud Kasper: Sure. I’ve seen people do that. I had a client years ago, passed away, didn’t have any children. Her sister had two children that she adopted as their own. These people were not children. They were in their 50s. Yet, with her estate, what she did is she had it doled out over five years, rather than getting one lump sum. She did that because, in her words, “I’m protecting them from themselves.”
Dean Barber: And a lot of times, that’s exactly what you need to do.
Bud Kasper: Yeah. They didn’t want to get a big windfall of money and blow it somewhere. So she controlled that from the grave, and that’s part of what trust work can provide.
Dean Barber: Absolutely.
Leaving a Legacy More than Just Money
Bud, just recently, I had a conversation. It was just this last week with one of my clients, and he’s in his 80s. We were talking about his estate plan and just reviewing it. And he said, “Hey, I want to do something.” And I said, “What do you want to do?” And he said, “I got a son that I want to buy a house for him.” And I said, “Man, that’d be great.” I said, “So you can actually watch him get to enjoy his inheritance.”
Now, he didn’t pay for the whole house, but he did put down a nice chunk of money so that his son could continue to save and build for his retirement and everything. So we adjusted his estate plan, took the amount out that was for this one child. And he was able to give the child the money and then see and enjoy and witness this whole event.
Bud Kasper: Yeah, the benefit.
Dean Barber: So, to me, that’s estate planning. But a lot of people think, well, estate planning is only when you die, but it’s not. There’s a lot of estate planning that’s for when you’re alive.
Bud Kasper: Sure. Of course, there is.
The Cost of Not Having an Estate Plan
Again, one of the biggest hurdles that come up is cost. The charge will range based on the amount of work or hours in terms of how the legal community deals. But the numbers that are worth repeating that you shared with us-
Dean Barber: For sure.
Bud Kasper: -are telling you that you’re a fool if you don’t go in and do the proper thing and spend the money because the government’s going to get it. The state or the federal government’s going to get it either way.
Dean Barber: Yeah. So let’s do; I did Missouri. So if you have a $100,000 estate that goes through probate, and remember, if you have a will, or if you don’t have a will, you’re pretty much guaranteed to go through probate. All right.
It’s called dying intestate. But if you have a will, and that’s all you have, then what happens is it still goes through probate because the courts have to read your will and determine where the money is supposed to go even though the will says it.
Bud Kasper: You have to put a notice in the paper so that any creditors can say, “Well, we put the notification. If you had any liens against us, you got a window here, and that’s all.”
Dean Barber: So probate on $100,000 estate is $6,600. It’s crazy.
Bud Kasper: See? And most trusts are going to be less than that.
Missouri Probate Costs
Dean Barber: Yeah, most trusts are going to be about half. Yeah. A $500,000 estate going through probate in the state of Missouri is $28,100. A $1 million estate is $53,100. A $2 million state is $93,100.
Bud Kasper: Incredible, isn’t it? Hands down. I swear, why would your state come in and kick you right in the keister by charging these kinds of rates? Because they can, and you’re dead.
Dean Barber: Yeah, you’re dead.
Bud Kasper: What are my choices here?
Kansas Probate Costs
Dean Barber: Now, Kansas is more complex. 5% of the first 5,000, 4% of the next 20,000, 3% of the next 75,000, 2.75% of the next 300,000, 2.5% of the next 600,000, and then 2% of everything over a million dollars. So it’s more complicated.
The bottom line is you’ll be less than what the state of Missouri is, as far as probate costs go, but still, it’s out of control. So do the proper estate planning so that your assets don’t have to go through probate.
Make Sure You Do Things Correctly
One of the mistakes that we see is that people will make a trust, but then they don’t correctly title everything. They don’t go through every single beneficiary on every asset they have and title that properly.
So they spent money to get the trust done, but they never funded the trust because the attorney says, “Hey, look, here’s what you got to do. Here’s a list of all the things that you need to go do now.” And that is the hardest part.
Bud Kasper: It is. And you’re so right. People who procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate because you have to go on down some physical work to put this in order with the people you have your money with.
Dean Barber: Don’t let that be you.
Advanced Healthcare Directives Matter
Bud, as we talk about estate planning, a critical piece is your advanced directives, your living will. Everybody remembers the name Terri Schiavo, right?
Bud Kasper: Sure do.
Dean Barber: 15 years in a vegetative state because her husband and her parents couldn’t agree on whether or not she should stay.
Bud’s Recent Experience with Advanced Healthcare Directives
So you had an experience here just recently where you’re getting some knee surgery done. So tell us that story.
Bud Kasper: Well, after all these years and having knee pain and everything, I finally broke down and had a knee replacement. In the process of that, as I’m sure so many of our audience have experienced themselves in one way, shape, or form, they asked the question, “Do you have a health directive?”
My reply was, “Yes, I have a health directive and all that,” but what we’ve learned, and I think you had this quote from one of the physicians that you knew and interviewed that what, 7% of people that enter into surgeries do not have a health directive.
Dean Barber: No, 7% do.
Bud Kasper: Do. Yes, right.
Dean Barber: So the vast majority of people do not have healthcare directives.
Bud Kasper: 93%, right?
Dean Barber: Yes.
Another Healthcare Directives Story
Dean Barber: Yes. That interview that I did on The Guided Retirement Show, of course, you can find The Guided Retirement Show on your favorite podcast app is Dr. Mock. He’s an emergency room physician for, I think it’s 35 or 40 years.
Anyway, the guy’s got some tremendous stories. That is going to premiere on August 17th on The Guided Retirement Show™. So if you subscribe, you’ll get a notification when that comes out. But he tells a story.
In that podcast, he tells a story about two daughters, both in their sixties that bring their mother into the emergency room. And he said, “Dean, I’ve watched, and I’ve seen so many people.” He says, “You can tell when there’s just nothing you can do. You can tell when somebody is going to die.”
This lady comes in, and it was evident to him that it wouldn’t be good. She wasn’t conscious and had comorbidities.
Bud Kasper: Right.
Dean Barber: And she was in so much pain, and the daughters brought her into the ER, and they’re like, “You got to save mom.” He said, “I can try.”
Bud Kasper: Make it easier.
Dean Barber: Right. “But with everything that’s going on with her, she may have a week. She may have two weeks. Maybe it’s a month but look at her. She’s in pain. Do you have healthcare directives? Does she have something?”
He said, “Because the most humane thing to do is to give her some pain medication so that it takes the pain away.” And so finally they talked back and forth, and they said, “Okay, that’s what we’ll do. Let’s relieve her of her pain.” And he said, “Literally in 30 minutes, she passed away.”
Bud Kasper: Oh, is that right?
Dean Barber: Yes.
Bud Kasper: Okay.
Dean Barber: He said that was a civil situation that occurred.
Terri Schiavo as an Example
Earlier, we mentioned Terri Schiavo, where she laid in a vegetative state for 15 years.
Bud Kasper: And that was a conflict between her parents and her husband, and they couldn’t agree as to. And she lost oxygen supply to her brain, which means that she was brain dead. I remembered vividly because it was such a court battle that was going on. Husband is saying, “Please let my wife pass in peace.” And mom and dad said, “We can’t let go.”
Dean Barber: And see, this is where the problem comes in because she wasn’t that old.
Bud Kasper: No.
Don’t Put Your Estate Plan Off
Dean Barber: Okay. The thing is that people think, “I’ll start worrying about that estate planning stuff when I get into my fifties or sixties or seventies. Then, towards the end of life, I’ll make sure that I get that done.”
Look, if you’ve got kids, you need an estate plan. If you don’t have kids, you need an estate plan. Why? Because there are things that the estate plan does while you’re alive.
Remember what I said, a good estate plan will ensure that your wishes are carried out, both health wishes and financial wishes, while you’re here and unable to make decisions.
It’s a Small Price to Pay
Bud Kasper: Right. And now that we’ve unveiled to people what the cost is by the states for going through probate, you have to ask yourself, ladies and gentlemen, yeah, it costs money to be able to do that, to have an estate plan, but what is it, $2,000?
Well, it depends on the complexity. It depends on the number of hours necessary for the attorney to forge, if you will, form the wishes that you have and how they can legally disperse after your passing. Small price to pay for peace of mind of knowing things will be how you want them.
Another Example: Taxes and Estate Planning
Dean Barber: Exactly right. I was speaking with one of my clients here just this last week who’s the client’s daughter. So dad and mom are clients, daughter’s a client. And anyway, we were talking, and she said, “Boy, mom’s confused about what they’ve got.”
I said, “Look.” She says, “Mom thinks they’re going to run out of money.” I said, “Look, there’s no way. It’s virtually impossible.” She says, “What about this insurance policy that they’re paying on?” And I said, “Do you understand why we did this insurance?” She’s like, “I don’t get it, no.
So what happened was that the mom and dad owned a farm, and there were pretty sizable capital gains on the farm.
Bud Kasper: I can believe that.
Dean Barber: He didn’t want to sell the farm. He wanted to give the farm to a charity.
So I said, “Well, wait a minute.” I said, “Let’s not do that.” I said, “Let’s create what’s called a charitable remainder trust. We’ll give the farm to the charitable remainder trust.” Sold the farm for $1.2 million after the charitable remainder trust owns it. Now there are no taxes, Because in the end, after both husband and wife have passed away, the trust then gets the proceeds.
Dean Barber: We invested the money in income-producing assets.
Bud Kasper: That they received.
Dean Barber: Right. With about a third of the income-producing assets, we purchased a $1.2 million life insurance policy that will be owned again by an irrevocable life insurance trust. So it’s going to pass tax-free to the beneficiaries.
Then there’s extra income coming out of that charitable remainder trust that the husband and wife can live on during their lifetime. So when I explained that, she goes, “Wow, that makes a lot of sense.” She goes, “I’ll tell mom exactly what it’s all about. She’ll probably forget, and I’ll have to tell her again.”
You Need to Talk to Your Beneficiaries
Still, I think a big part of an estate planning mistake is failing to dialogue with the ultimate beneficiaries properly.
Bud Kasper: Right. I know there are many moving parts in what you just said, but you’re right. I understand perfectly what you were saying, what the objective was as well. Let me add something else to this. What’s going to happen if the government comes in and takes away the stepped-up cost basis?
Dean Barber: It’s going to be a nightmare.
Bud Kasper: It will be a frigging nightmare, folks, and don’t let your politicians vote in favor of that.
Dean Barber: Oh my gosh. That would be horrible.
Don’t Forget About Taxes!
Bud Kasper: It would be one of the most upsetting things that have ever happened to citizens of the United States since we could pass assets onto our heirs without a tax consequence.
Dean Barber: Look, there’s zero question that tax laws will change. I mean, we went from 1945 to 1981 without a significant tax law change—’81 to ’86. And then you know in the ’90s and 2000s, man, it was boom, boom, boom, more and more.
Look, proper estate planning is also part of proper tax planning, which is part of proper financial planning.
The Importance of Talking to Your Beneficiaries
Dean Barber: You need to have conversations with your kids and your grandkids and the people who will inherit that estate.
Now, I will tell you that I’m in excellent health, my wife’s in great health, our children range in age from 20 to 30, and there’s five of them, and we sit down with them every year, and we have a discussion about what’s going on with our estate plan.
Is there any thinking that one of us will not be around in 20 years? No, we think we are, right? So that’s what we plan on, but I have seen so many things happen, Bud, where there is no plan. Then, bad things start to happen, okay?
That’s why I encourage people to get their estate plan in order and have those family meetings. Have those conversations with the people you care about so that there’s no burden placed on them having to come up and make these decisions.
Another Quick Estate Planning Story
Dean Barber: I’m going to tell a story real quick about something very close. So this the mother of two nieces and two nephews. So it’s my brother’s ex-wife, all right.
Now, they don’t live here in Kansas City, so I don’t want to get too personal, but the bottom line is she remarried a super nice guy, part of the family, everybody got along, he passed away suddenly of a massive heart attack. His wife, my brother’s ex, was a beneficiary on life insurance and jointly owned the property they owned.
Bud Kasper: Their home.
Dean Barber: Right. He didn’t have a trust, didn’t have a will. So his daughter comes, and it’s all-out war, “This was my dad’s stuff, and we’re going to take this and blah, blah, blah. And the estate does this, and the estate says that.”
Of course, she winds up with nothing because of the way that all the assets are titled. If her dad wanted her to have something specific, the only way that could happen in the state of Kansas is to have put a document in writing through a trust or a will. That would have allowed those things to happen. Again, young, okay? So this guy wasn’t old, he was in his mid-sixties, but the point is there’s no plan. And look, death is inevitable, right? We just never know what’s going to happen.
Intestate is Public!
Bud Kasper: We use the word intestate. Intestate means a person passed without a will or trust, and their estate is in the throws of their state’s rules. Of course, anytime you get the state involved, there will be more costs involved with that, and probably more important is the time element to get things right.
Dean Barber: Well, and it’s public then, every single thing is public then.
Bud Kasper: Yeah. Many people don’t know that when you pass away, you’ve got to have an ad, if you will, in the paper, so that if there are any creditors out there that have any claims against that estate, they can step forward and do that. How public is that? About as public as you can get, right? Other than taking some time on our radio show to declare that.
Some Estate Planning Education
Dean Barber: It’s critical that you make sure that you get this all done right. Get a copy of the Estate Planning Guide and check out our video, Is a Will Enough? And check out the article 4 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid.
The SECURE Act
So, Bud, I think that relying too heavily on your beneficiaries is a critical thing.
Dean Barber: Also, some of the tax law changes that have come out. If you remember, it was almost at the stroke of midnight on December 31st, 2019, and the SECURE Act was passed.
It wasn’t quite exactly that, but it was one of these last-minute deals, and they built the SECURE Act. It stands for setting every community up for retirement enhancement, and I call it, setting every Congressperson up for retirement enhancement, right?
The SECURE Act forced anybody who passed away after January 1, 2000, if they have children who are the beneficiaries of their IRAs, forcing these children to take all the money out of those IRAs within ten years.
And you know what that does? They have to pay taxes on all that. So it’s the biggest money grab I’ve ever seen. So now, Congress has this great thing called the Son of the SECURE, right?
The Son of SECURE
So this is the add-on to the Secure Act, it’s not passed yet, but it did pass the House Ways and Means Committee with very strong bipartisan support. And again, there’s more money grab here, and they’re going to sell this thing as if it’s something that’s going to help you.
You’re going to love this when you listen to Ed in the season five premiere of The Guided Retirement Show™. We talk about the Son of the SECURE, and Ed says, “Anytime something says secure, or the government calls it something that’s going to benefit you, you better watch your wallet because they’re coming after it.”
Bud Kasper: And money grab is the right word on that, Dean. We had the ability before for the people to allow beneficiaries in qualified accounts, meaning IRAs or 401(k)s, to stretch out the amount they would have to pay in taxes over their lifetime and which was highly beneficial.
So when they went in and said, “Okay, no longer are we going to permit that, we’re going to have you distribute over in a 10-year timeframe.” In other words, you’ve got to empty the account.
Here Comes the Tax Man
What does that 10-year rule mean? Well, out of an IRA account, that means taxes. And that’s what this is all about, don’t disguise this as anything other than what it is. It’s a money grab to get more tax money out of people’s estates to fund some of the ridiculous programs that Congress comes up with.
Dean Barber: Well, and here’s the truth. The truth is that people that inherit money are generally in their peak earning years. They’re in their fifties or early sixties. Mom and dad are in their eighties or nineties, okay? And when they inherit that money and they’re in their peak earning years, and then you’re forced to take money out of the IRA.
Bud Kasper: You’re in the top tax bracket.
Dean Barber: In the top tax bracket and the top tax bracket, by the way, in 2025, goes back to sunset provision comes into play, and it’s a 39.6% on that top end.
Bud Kasper: There you go.
Dean Barber: The SECURE Act was one way of increasing revenue. The son of the secure is another way of increasing revenue without raising the tax rate. But you and I both know that what’s going on in Congress right now. It looks like there are more tax hikes ahead. Look, get ahead of this, get your financial plan done.
Understand How Your Estate Plan Impacts Your Overall Plans to Retire
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Bud Kasper: People need to keep their eyes open for the word “comprehensive.” I see other people using the word, and yet, when you look at what they considered to be comprehensive is about half of what we produce for our clients. Be sure you understand what that means.
Dean Barber: The only way you’re going to know is by getting that complimentary consultation and going through the experience that we have been providing for people for decades here in the Kansas City area.
Make sure and subscribe to America’s Wealth Management Show on your favorite podcast app, as well as The Guide to Retirement Show™. Thanks for joining us. We’ll be back next week, same time, same place.
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The views expressed represent the opinion of Barber Financial Group an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Barber Financial Group does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.