Unaddressed Estate Issues Create Problems And Delay

Have you heard the idea –  “When you are dead, you won’t know.  It will be difficult only for the others.” There are many whose estate plans that are based on that belief. It is easy enough to do and says, “I won’t care, so why worry.”


Would the dead make diferent arrangements if they knew what would happen? Probably, if they knew.

As a public service, I have devised a test so that a dead person may find out that they have passed on. It allows them to have insight. There are several questions.  Each should be answered either Yes or No.

  1. Are you wearing your best clothes but have nowhere to go?
  2. Are your children fighting over your property?
  3. Are there people in the room who you know but have not seen for more than five years?
  4. Has your lawyer just ordered a Mercedes?
  5. Has it been more than 12 hours since your last meal?
  6. Is your business out of control?
  7. Are you cold?
  8. Do you owe an exceptional amount of income tax?
  9. Is your blood pressure lower than usual?
  10. Does your bank want its loans and guarantees liquidated?
  11. Are your eyes closed but you aren’t sleeping?

If you have answered “Yes” to more than six questions you are quite likely dead.  Three or fewer, you are probably alive.

Some questions matter more

Go back and look at the even-numbered questions. The even numbered questions are ones you can do something about. Anticipation is the key to cure. If you can anticipate the problem you can reduce or remove the problem while living but not later.

Unless you make the decisions and provide the tools, your executor cannot solve any of them effectively.

The twelfth question. “Would my executors prefer not to be involved?  Executors can withdraw. No one wants unpleasant disputes and unsolvable problems. Would you want to be the executor of an estate like your own.

Things to aim towards

A good estate plan addresses problems in advance and provides:

  • An equitable division of property including a sesntive allocation of heirlooms and family monuments.
  • Minimizes costs and taxes. You probably cannot go to zero without taking unreasonable risks or incurring excessive costs.
  • Provide enough liquid assets to meet unavoidable obligations. The irreducible minimum.
  • Completion of a plan of business ownership and management succession
  • Optimal income and security while you are living
  • Efficient asset growth while living. Growth that does not compound the estate problems.
  • Most estate problems have solutions, but you need to start early.

The bits to takeaway

  1. A good estate plan operates from now until a year or more after the second death of a couple.
  2. Many estate problems are predictable. People who have experience know about them and often how to reduce their effect.
  3. You built your wealth by hard work, planning, and putting off pleasure today for growth tomorrow
  4. It does not make sense to work a lifetime and then give up a large share at death.
  5. Most problems in an estate are about two things – enough money to pay the costs, and an heir gets assets another cares about more. Equitable or fair is good enough. Equal is a fluke in any complex estate.
  6. Fewer problems is a good thing. Speeding up settlement pleases everyone.

Help me please. If you have found this useful, please subscribe and forward it to others.

I build strategy and fact-based estate and income plans. The plans identify alternate ways and alternate timing to achieve both spending and estate distribution goals. In the past I have been a planner with a large insurance, employee benefits, and investment agency, a partner in a large international public accounting firm, CEO of a software start-up, a partner in an energy management system importer, and briefly in the restaurant business. I have appeared on more than 100 television shows on financial planning, have presented to organizations as varied as the Canadian Bar Association, The Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants, The Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food, Banks – from CIBC to the Business Development Bank.

Be in touch at 705-927-4770 or by email to don@moneyfyi.com

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