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I A Little Planning Can Make A Big Difference t is never an easy moment when we learn someone dear to us has passed away. The profound feeling of unrecoverable loss is coupled with a sense of confusion and anxiety about how best to move forward. So how do we reduce the burden on our family that survives us? The answer: A little bit of forward planning can go a long way. Not just for the wealthy, basic estate planning is important for individuals with a wide range of fi nancial situations. In fact, it may be more important if you have a smaller estate because the fi nal expenses will have a much greater impact on what your heirs receive. Wasting even a single asset may cause your loved ones to suffer from a lack of fi nancial resources. HERE ARE A FEW QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF: Do I have a will? A will is a legal document that lets you state how you want your property distributed after you die, who shall administer your estate, and who will care for your minor children. This is probably the most important tool available to you. Anyone with property or minor children should have a will that is kept up to date. By Daniel T. Newquist, CFP®, AIF® Do I have a Trust? Dan Newquist, CFP®, AIF®, Principal & Senior Wealth Advisor with RNP Advisory Services, Inc., a registered investment advisor, Morgan Hill. He can be reached at 408-779-0699 or dnewquist@ Securities offered through Foothill Securities, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC, an unaffiliated company. A trust is a separate legal entity that holds your assets that are then used for the benefi t of one or more people (e.g., you, your spouse, or your children). You will need an attorney to create a trust. Are my assets and accounts properly titled? Make sure assets such as your house, vehicles, investment accounts, and other real property are titled properly. This will help ensure that your estate will pass as intended to benefi ciaries. Who are my designated beneficiaries? You would be amazed how many times an ex- spouse is named as benefi ciary. Make sure your accounts are updated. Did you remember to add your children? Do you have a contingent benefi ciary in the event that your benefi ciary pre-deceases you? How about a “Transfer-on death” benefi ciary for individual brokerage and bank accounts not titled to a trust. Who will make decisions for me if I am incapacitated? A health care directive will allow a designated agent to make health-related decisions on your behalf. A fi nancial power or durable power of attorney will help you ensure that in the case of your incapacitation, a designated person will be responsible for your fi nances. Do I have a life insurance policy? Life insurance can provide tax free money for your benefi ciaries for taxes and fi nal expenses. Make sure family members have access to the policy information, carrier, and agent associated with your policy. Where are my documents? Surviving family members will need access to your bank, retirement and investment accounts. Make certain someone you trust has access to and list of your user names and passwords, account details, a list of all debts including credit cards, car payments, loans, expenses. Also keep a contact list of your fi nancial advisor, tax person, attorney, and insurance agent. Keep this information updated and in one secure spot. This is just a starting point. Your situation will be unique with its own complexities and may require the assistance of a legal professional to put your plans properly in place. At RNP Advisory Services we are happy to answer any of your questions regarding investments, retirement, and fi nancial planning. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” Mahatma Gandhi This article is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended for investment, legal or tax advice. Always consult your financial, legal or tax professional for guidance with respect to your specific situation. GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN JULY / AUGUST 2016 35