So you think that your children can avoid probate if you just add their names to your accounts? Think again. What if one son's business venture sours, and his assets are subject to creditors' claims? There goes your estate-and your children's inheritance.
Books on estate planning most often deal with issues such as reducing estate taxes. Barney (an estate planning attorney) and Collins (a financial planner) take a more human approach. They use the device of poignant letters representing what has happened to real people to illustrate their conviction that lack of understanding about passing on your assets can lead to unforeseen (and sometimes unfortunate) consequences for your heirs.
The authors see the act of making a will not only as an opportunity to pass on physical assets, but also as an opportunity to reflect your values. They build a case for taking the time to decide what your desires are and then to seek professional advice (making sure that the advisor is reputable) in order to assure that your wishes are carried out.
It is imperative to communicate your intentions quite clearly, not only in terms of a will or trust for the formal transfer of wealth, but also in regard to the distribution of personal belongings such as Mother's china service. Clearly expressing your desires assures that your intentions will be carried out with a minimum of misunderstanding among your heirs.
Communicate as well your exact wishes in terms of end-of-life preferences, burial preferences, organ donation, etc. to all the people who might ultimately become involved in making those decisions for you. Don't just tell one of your children; tell all of them!
The best approach is to write out your preferences so that your family will be clear about your desires and - where appropriate -your reasoning. For example, if you feel that it is important for young adults to have the experience of earning money, explain your decision that, should you die unexpectedly, the monies will be distributed in stages, when the heirs reach certain ages, so that a large inheritance will not come to younger children all at once.
This book does not discuss QTIP trusts or A-B trusts. It inspires you, by a succession of thought-provoking examples, to consider the implications of various strategies and to take steps to ensure that the distribution of your wealth will accomplish what you want. Whether your net worth is $10,000 or $10,000,000, you can benefit from Best Intentions.
If you are setting out on your own for the first time, you'll need to become self-sufficient in ways that you probably never thought about, or needed to know, while you were living at home. Although The Hip Girl's Handbook is written in a breezy "girlfriend-to-girlfriend" style, it will guide you through many of the real-life situations that you're likely to encounter when you start college or rent your first apartment.
What would you do if you had to unclog a drain or a garbage disposal? What about leaky faucets and unpleasant plumbing problems? Do you know what to do when your electrical system gets overloaded? The handbook offers step-by-step instructions for tackling these common household problems, and also tells you when it's time to bring in the experts!
A Hip Girl knows that buying a car is a milestone in her life. You'll find out what to look for, the questions you should ask, and how to negotiate a fair price and reasonable financing terms before you sign the contract. After you buy your car, chances are good that a road trip will be in your future. Before you leave, you'll find out how to check under the hood, how to cope with roadside emergencies, and what you should do if you are involved in an accident.
If you have never opened a checking account, filled out a credit card application, or set up a budget, you will be well advised to read what a Hip Girl should know about such matters. And it's never too soon to start saving for retirement or building a nest egg. If you have difficulty saving money on a regular basis, you'll find several ideas for trimming expenses (including going to the public library to read current magazines and borrow videos!)
You don't necessarily have to be a young girl leaving home for the first time in order to benefit from reading this wise and witty book. It will also help those who are newly independent or living with a husband/roommate/boyfriend who is similarly clueless. Parents will find that this is a diplomatic way of getting this information across to newly sprung offspring. The authors tell us "… a woman who is self-sufficient exudes a special aura. It's in all that she does; her walk, her talk, and just the way she carries herself." That kind of confident glow comes from knowing how to clear most of those household, automotive, and financial hurdles in the racetrack of the real world.
Contact the business librarians, who also answer questions about business, money, and work, at (412) 281-7141 or at www.carnegielibrary.org/locations/downtown/contact.cfm.