The Public Employee Podcast, also known as P.E.P. Squad, now has seven installments!
In this episode, the Squad talks to Adrienne Jack from Kirton McConkie about a new benefit available for UPEA members!
Hello everyone! Welcome back to the PEP Squad! Thanks for joining us. We’ve got a full studio here today, I’m joined by our Executive Director Todd Losser, Hannah and Christy as well as our special guest and new vendor. Todd is going to introduce our guest.
Hi, yes, today with us is Adrian Jack, an attorney from the law firm of Kirton & McConkie. And she’s going to be providing a discounted rate for helping our members write their wills and trusts. This is going to be a huge benefit and it’s something we’re excited to roll out for our members. Anybody who has been considering creating a will or trust or anyone who needs to update their existing wills and trusts can have access to this great service. We’re excited to have her here and so I’ll turn the time over to Adrian and she’s got a presentation and she will talk about what wills and trusts are, how they work, what Kirton and McConkie will be offering you. If you have questions about this, she’s going to leave her contact information, or you can call the UPEA office and then we can set you up to meet face-to-face. I’ll turn the time over to Adrian.
Thank you. I am excited to be here. I first became interested in estate planning when I was in high school and my grandfather passed away. My grandmother had already predeceased him, and he had remarried, so I had another grandma in my life. Once he passed away there was a lot of family drama about who should receive what assets in the family. The family continued to fight about it and attorneys had to be hired and get involved. A part of my family to this day is not on good terms with other parts of the family because of this. I’ve seen firsthand how the lack of estate planning can really cause a strain on relationships/family and put a burden on families that could be easily avoided with some simple estate planning documents.
So, at a high-level, when people think of estate planning, the first thing they think of is who will receive my assets at my death and that is a crucial part of estate planning. But there are several other components that are just as important. You might also consider when do they receive the assets? Other considerations include if there’s a large sum of money or you have children or family members that aren’t financially responsible; you may want that money to be distributed to them in a way.
Also, one of the critical parts of estate planning is making sure that your estate is distributed as efficiently as possible to help avoid the probate process. Probate is a process when the court decides where to distribute a person’s estate and they oversee how that is handled. There are some easy ways to avoid probate which I’ll talk about shortly. Probate can be a hassle, burdensome and expensive for families. Then also to keep in mind with estate planning is making sure you’re being as tax efficient as possible. Right now, the estate tax will only apply if you have $11.5 million to contribute to your beneficiaries. That doesn’t apply to a lot of us, although, I wish it did! So, estate taxes might not be at the forefront of your mind right now, but keep in mind that that 11.5 million is scheduled to go back down to 5 million in 2026; and then it can also change with whoever holds the presidency or Congress.
What happens is that a person is appointed as personal representative or executor of the estate and they then have the power to distribute a person’s assets. To be appointed as a personal representative you often must go to a court hearing to do so and that requires you to hire attorneys and it can be expensive. The court filing fee alone is $400. To probate an estate costs between $2,000-2,500.
Whereas compare that to a simple estate planning that we are offering to UPEA members which is only about $1,000 for an estate plan for a couple, or $700 per state plan for individuals. Avoiding the probate process by planning your estate now will save you a lot of money, headache and hassle for your beneficiaries.
So, when the court goes to distribute your assets it will be done according to your will, if you have one. If you do not, then your assets are distributed according to state law. State law might not meet your best interests. For example, if you have family members that are estranged or that you’re not on good terms with, you may not want your assets going to them. However, if there is no will, state law specifies who will receive those assets and that is not something you can control unless you have an estate planner.
If you do not have a will but you have a spouse and all the children that you have are from that spouse are from a first marriage with no step-children, then all your assets will go to your spouse but if you have children who are from prior spouses, those children can get involved and then half of your estate will go to your spouse and half will go to the children. If you have no spouse, then all your assets will be distributed amongst your children. If there are no children, then your assets go to your parents. If your parents are not alive, then it goes to your siblings, and so on and so forth. So, state law specifies that certain people receive assets and that is not something you can change no matter how tense or adversarial your relationship is.
To avoid the probate process, the simple way to do that is to put in a simple estate plan that transfers assets automatically at your death to the people you want so the court doesn’t have to oversee who receives them. Because it happens automatically, some benefits, like a life insurance policy or retirement plan, will automatically go to your beneficiaries at your death. However other assets like a home, bank account or other personal property does not automatically go to somebody at your death and so that is why your estate-planning can make sure exactly what you want happens.
To avoid the probate process, you need four key documents for your estate planning. The documents we will use in drafting your estate plan. The first is your will, your will state that everyone in your estate will be put into your trust. Within your will is a personal property list and that is where you can specify where certain pieces of property like artwork, guns, heirlooms, jewelry, etc. can pass to a particular person that you specify. That is something you can do after your estate-planning and change it as many times as you like without having to see an attorney. Your trust will when distribute your assets to your beneficiaries and you can specify when you want those assets to be distributed, such as immediately at your death or at certain ages. Once everything has been distributed, your trust will terminate.
Within your trust will need a designated trustee who can handle those assets for you. Oftentimes the same person that serves as trustee will also serve as the personal representative because the rules are very similar. Your personal representative is gathering your assets and your trustee is distributing them. It makes sense that one person as filling that both of those roles.
The third document is a Healthcare Directive and that is giving someone the authority to make healthcare decisions for you as well as make your end-of-life care decisions. Healthcare Directives are sometimes known as living will too. This is an important role to have filled by someone you trust because this role will be someone who can admit you to the hospital, obtain your healthcare records, and be able to decide on life-support options. This person can also help if you become incapacitated and are no longer able to make those healthcare decisions for yourself.
Finally, the fourth document is a Power of Attorney. The power of attorney allows somebody to act on your behalf for financial matters. If your mental health condition deteriorates, you can appoint somebody who is able to help you. They can pay your bills and expenses, access your bank accounts. Additionally, the power of attorney allows them to sell your property on behalf, and act in any way that is beneficial to you. If you don’t designate a power of attorney or a healthcare directive agent, the court will designate that person for you. That might not always be in your best interest. So, it is important that while you have the capacity to do so, you are prepared.
These estate planning documents are what you need to be working on now, gathering your asset information. Think about what assets you have, what their value is, and who you want your assets to go to. Other information you need gather is what life insurance policies you have, your policy number, who your life insurance agent is. You need to ensure that you know where you bank and what are your bank account numbers are. This is especially important not only for your estate planning attorney but also your family. Unfortunately, we see clients all the time who are struggling to find where their parents’ assets were, and they have no idea where their parents banked or if they even have life insurance policies. All that information is vital to estate planning. Oftentimes, the only way for children to find their parents’ information is to get bank statements in the mail and that can take a long time. So, it is very important to gather that information now and have it accessible for your beneficiaries so they can know exactly what you have and where to gather it. You can also start thinking about who you trust to make these decisions for you, and who would you like to be your personal representative or trustee.
At our law firm we have prepared packets of information on estate planning that we can give our too interested individuals. These documents can help you make these considerations and determinations to begin the process of estate planning.
I am very grateful to work with public employees; my husband is a public employee and I appreciate all the UPEA members in all that they do to make our state so wonderful. I’m happy to meet with you to discuss any estate planning objectives you have. I can meet with you in person as I mentioned, it costs about $1,000 for couples and $700 for individuals.
If you’d like to contact me, you can contact the UPEA offices or my email is: AJack@kmclaw.com My phone number is 801-850-7644. Thank you and I look forward to working with you.
Great! So, if members are interested in taking advantage of this great offer, going forward, how long would something like this take?
Typically, before we meet, I will send you a list of documents you need to gather and a packet of information to fill us prior to us meeting. That way you can work on your own time. Our first meeting is usually 30 minutes to an hour. After that meeting our law firm will prepare the documents you bring and ensure they are acceptable. We will send up a written estate plan to you to ensure it is acceptable on your end. From there, we will meet once more to sign the documents which takes another 30 minutes. It does take a bit of your time, but it will save so much time, money and resources in the future.
When is a good time to begin estate planning?
That is a great question. Usually when people have children, they begin to investigate guardianship of their children if something were to happen to them. This helps to ensure that their children’s guardian will be somebody that they’re comfortable with. Once you are older and reach your 40s or 50s, that’s a great time to start figuring out your estate planning. All the information that we put into your estate plan are totally amenable so if something happens you can change it to reflect new information.
I know Adrian talked a little bit about cost in her presentation, but I just want to clarify that this is an awesome deal! As she said I just it is about $700 for an individual and $1,000 for a couple and you get this for this all-inclusive package to plan your estate fully with a highly rated law firm. When you ask for a quote at other places their estate planning can range from $2,500 to $4,000, so this is a huge deal and the members to take advantage of.
Awesome, thank you Adrian for sitting down with us and going over this. We’re excited for our members to take advantage of this opportunity. Like Adrian mentioned, you can contact her directly or just reach out to the UPEA office we will put you in touch.