We’d like to make a change from talking just about trusts and estate planning and shift to something more personal, which Old North State Trust has made something of a corporate goal. That is Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. These are a major health challenge for millions of people, and directly affect the lives of many millions more.

Even though many of us have personal reasons for being dedicated to this cause, it is also an important professional issue for people in my line of work. The fact is that Alzheimer’s and other dementias take a huge financial toll on families and on the national economy. It’s also true that helping families deal responsibly with the impact of these devastating afflictions is an important objective of many trusts.

In November 2017, our company sponsored a team in the Wilmington area Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s. The goal was to raise awareness of this dreaded disease and to raise funds by walking the 2.6-mile loop at Wrightsville Beach.  Our team raised $1,250, contributing to the overall total of $101,000 raised by 683 participants on 92 teams.

These funds, along with more than $75 million raised in more than 600 other communities nationwide, go to help Alzheimer’s patients, fund medical research, and to lobby for greater public commitment to fighting dementia.

The Walk has another purpose beyond money. It’s to help raise awareness.

Here are some important facts that we hope everybody takes to heart.

  • Alzheimer’s Disease is the only one of the top ten causes of death in the United States that can’t be prevented or cured. In fact, the disease’s progression can’t even be slowed.
  • It’s so prevalent that fully a third of all seniors have Alzheimer’s or another dementia at the time of death.
  • Alzheimer’s is the number six cause of death in America.
  • More than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s right now.
  • Those patients require care, usually around the clock, meaning almost 16 million other people are serving as caregivers to people with dementia.

Then there are the financial facts.

  • While some of those 16 million caregivers are paid, many others are not. They give an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care, valued at $230 billion. Many family members have to give up their careers to care for loved ones with dementia. Here’s a thought to consider: how much productivity would be returned to the U.S. economy if those hours could be devoted to other work?
  • Alzheimer’s disease’s total impact on the United States economy was $259 billion in 2017, expected to balloon to more than $1 trillion by 2050.

So, while we’re talking about money, it’s worth thinking about what the Alzheimer’s Association does with the funds it raises.

As with every charity, a portion of its income must be used for administration and fund-raising. But a full 79 percent of the funds the Association raises go toward Alzheimer’s care, support, research, awareness, and advocacy.

That includes offering care and support to patients and their families, through such tools as the online message boards called ALZConnected; local in-person support groups for caregivers and patients; and a free nationwide helpline.

On the medical science front, the Association has provided more than $405 million to over 2,600 research projects. One result of this work has been the development of new diagnostic guidelines for Alzheimer’s.

Finally, in its advocacy role, the Association is a voice for the needs and rights of people affected by Alzheimer’s. Its lobbying helped pass important legislation, including the National Alzheimer’s Project Act. This made the fight against Alzheimer’s a national priority. Just as important has been an ongoing push to make sure federal policy reflects the urgency of fighting this growing epidemic, and that government funding follows.

If you are interested in helping, you can learn more, including details about how to give, at alz.org, or from the Association’s helpline at 800.272.3900. A related effort, also raising money for scientific insight into the disease, is the Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, or CART, a national project supported by most local Rotary clubs.

While we’re on this subject, we’d like to say a few words about the importance of thinking ahead about the very likely prospect that you or a loved one may become one of the millions affected by Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. While not pleasant to think about, the chances are just too great to ignore that many people will become incapacitated mentally as they age.

To help ensure that adequate and appropriate care and living conditions are provided and that financial assets are protected, a carefully designed trust is invaluable. We have all heard horror stories about people being taken advantage of when their mental faculties have become impaired. A trust arrangement can ensure that objective professionals, who have no claim on the owner’s assets, can oversee the interests and the physical and financial well-being of a person who develops dementia.

A well-designed trust can also take a huge load off family members and other caregivers by ensuring they don’t have to worry about the patient’s finances.

 

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

A question we have to ask ourselves in this ever increasingly crazy and uncertain world is “Who do you trust?”.  With the surge lately of violence, cyber attacks and bad (if not downright criminal) behavior amongst celebrities, politicians, and institutions, it is hard to know who to have confidence in when dealing with your nest egg.  We don’t know who to trust with our families’ safety, with the safety of our country, the safety of our children or accumulated wealth.  So, we try to figure out how to control the things that we can.  One of our mottos at Old North State Trust (ONST) is to plan for the worst and hope for the best.  That motto permeates everything we do when advising our clients.  In fact, it’s the cornerstone upon which we built our company.  Planning for life with investment management, planning for death with estate planning and settlement, planning for Uncle Sam with tax planning, planning for retirement, planning for all types of issues that life throws at us.  Some of these things we do as a stand-alone company and some we must collaborate on with other professionals.  That is one of the distinctive qualities that makes us so different from others.  We are flexible enough to not only tailor our services to meet our clients’ needs, but we also work with their existing relationships or partners.  Another quality that makes us so unique is that we are an independent wealth management company.  This means that we are not beholden to shareholders, and we have no divided interest to pursue loans, mortgages, credit cards or deposits.  We can focus solely on our clients.

 

One very good example of how we do so is the Brown family (not their real name).  Our team has known this family for a very long time but lost touch with them over the last few years.  Recently, they contacted us and said that they were unhappy with their current provider.  They asked if ONST would consider acting as successor trustee.  We reviewed the agreements and asked what the issue was with the current trustee.  It seemed that the trustee no longer wished to hold the real estate which was an asset of the trust.  Since we were familiar with the account, we asked if anything had changed as the property was simply a piece of residential real estate.  In fact, it was a very nice home that was well-kept because it had been the home of the primary beneficiary’s deceased parents.  They maintained it and wanted to keep it in the family.  The current trustee, which was a large bank did not want to hold it, as the house represented a large portion of the account.  We understood the concern and discussed the issue with the clients, developed a plan to address the concern and agreed to take the account.  Our ability to be flexible, listen to their concerns and not just issue decisions from afar resonated with them and they were very appreciative.

 

This is not to say that we don’t have some beneficiaries that are not happy with the way their loved ones designated their funds upon their death.  Some beneficiaries would like to have everything given to them at once. They find it hard to appreciate the thought and planning that went into constructing the documents and inheritance given to them. They just don’t understand that one of our most important jobs as a trustee is to save these beneficiaries from themselves.  In fact, one of the closest relationships that we now have is with a client whose husband left everything in trust for her benefit, instead of outright to her.  We had the unpleasant task of explaining this to her at our very first meeting.  Her husband had just passed away, which is not the best time to have any type of communication with a new client, much less a financial one.  We explained that she would not receive funds in the way she thought she would and that she would have to work with us on an ongoing basis.  That wasn’t what she expected or wanted to hear.  We also had to tell her that she owed the estate some money.  That really was not what she wanted to hear.  However, due to our flexibility, we were able to work out an arrangement whereby we exchanged some assets in the estate, made a distribution and she did not have to pay anything back.  Over time we have worked with her to build a relationship in which we help her with all her decision making- estate planning, income taxes, bill pay, Power of Attorney -you name it, we do it.  In fact, we have established such a close bond, she now calls her advisor Momma!  That’s what we call a relationship.  It’s also what we call the heart of what we do at ONST.  It’s establishing relationships and caring for our clients by helping them to plan for the worst that comes their way and being there for them when the best happens

 

 

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

As the year is winding down, a topic on just about everyone’s mind is gifts. Not just the seasonal presents under the tree, but also those big transfers of assets between family members that often get made at the end of the current tax year, or the beginning of the next.

Which year a gift is made is important. That’s because of how the tax code treats gifts.

The good news is that gift-tax exemptions can benefit lots of people, not just those in the very highest brackets. In fact, the benefit is greatest for those who don’t qualify for multi-millionaire status. While gifts are technically taxable, that status applies only to those over the very generous annual exclusion of $14,000. Then there’s a lifetime exclusion, which is more generous yet.

All this means you can give up to $14,000 each year and neither you nor the recipient will owe any federal income tax on the gift. Here’s another useful wrinkle: You can elect to split gifts between married couples, effectively doubling the amount transferred tax-free. Say one spouse makes a gift to a child for $28,000 but states that it’s from both parents. That way each spouse gets credit for that maximum $14,000 gift.

This isn’t limited to family, by the way. You can make a tax-free gift to anyone.

As far as accounting the tax reporting is concerned, the easiest option is if the gift is cash. The gift is reported as whatever the cash amount is, and that also becomes the cost basis for both donor and recipient.

If the gift consists of non-cash assets, it gets a bit more involved. The asset — whether it’s securities, a car, works of art, whatever — must be reported at market value. For stocks, bonds, mutual funds and other easily traded assets, that’s easy to determine. But for more concrete “stuff,” it may be necessary to obtain an appraisal. That’s very much worth the cost, by the way, because the IRS can cast a very critical eye on what it might consider an over-valued gift. You’ll want to be able to back up any claim for what a gift is worth.

Once the market value has been obtained, it becomes the cost basis of the asset, both for the person making the gift and the one receiving it. But there is a tricky footnote to this. Say you give a block of stock worth $14,000 to your nephew. But your tax basis is less than that; you paid just $10,000 for the stock a few years earlier. If the nephew getting the gift (“donee” in tax-speak) sells it for $15,000, his tax basis is that “carryover” amount, essentially your cost basis when you originally bought the stock. So, the nephew’s capital gain is $5,000: the difference between what you paid and what he received from the sale. On the other hand, if the gift assets are sold at a loss, the donee’s cost basis is the lower of the two possibilities: the market value at the time of the gift, or the donor’s cost basis.

Does that make your head spin? Ours, too! Which is why a situation like this should be analyzed by a competent professional.

Back to the immediate tax consequences, though: even if a gift exceeds the $14,000 annual threshold (or $28,000 in the case of married couples), gift taxes still don’t have to be paid immediately. That’s because of the so-called “lifetime exclusion.” That’s now set at $5.49 million. The “lifetime” part means the value of gifts over the annual limit won’t be taxable until your death. And only then if they exceed that $5.49 MM amount.

Of course, any taxes due from your estate will reduce the amount available for your heirs. But by thoughtful use of gifts, while you’re living, you will have transferred appreciable assets out of your estate and into the hands of someone whose estate is likely smaller, and whose tax burden is likely less.

Right now, we’re working with some clients to accomplish exactly that result. Three siblings jointly own a piece of real estate they want to present as a gift to another family member. One of our duties is to obtain an appraisal for the property. Once the current market value is established, we’ll then deed the property to the relative. Right now, before the appraisal is done, it looks like the property will be valued somewhere in the neighborhood of $100,000. So, each of the siblings’ share of that gift will be well above the $14,000 limit.

That means each of these three donors will have to file a gift tax return. (That’s IRS Form 709.) They will declare the gift and attach a copy of the appraisal, but won’t actually pay any tax. For the amount over the annual limit — probably $20,000 or so for each of the siblings — they will take advantage of the lifetime exclusion. So, in this example, each will eat into their lifetime exclusion by that roughly $20,000. (That’s based on dividing the total value by three, then subtracting the annual $14,000 limit.) If this was the first time the lifetime exclusion was used, this would leave each of the donors another $5.47 million to work against in future years!

It’s only in very specific cases that clients actually bump up against that amount, so these tax law provisions can help almost anyone painlessly transfer funds to a family member or other loved one.

If you’re considering something like this, remember this very important fact: even if any gift tax should be due, it’s never the recipient who has to pay it. The donor is always responsible for any tax on a gift.

Finally, as to the timing: A gift of this kind can be made any time of year. The main reason these decisions are often made at year-end is to evaluate other tax considerations. For example, if an asset is producing income, it may make sense to collect any last-quarter dividends, interest or rent first, then make the gift at the beginning of the new year. But a donor’s personal tax situation may just as easily dictate that the gift should be made before the year ends.

There’s no simple answer about what timing is best. It all depends on the details of the donor’s finances. That’s another reason that these decisions shouldn’t be made without expert advice.

 

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

One essential duty for parents is to make plans for their children should the parents die prematurely. The first obligation, of course, is to decide who should be given the power and duty to care for them in the parents’ place. This is called guardianship of the person.

But it’s just as important to specify who will be responsible for the children’s inherited assets. One approach is to appoint a guardian for the estate, a person who will have to answer to a court as long as the surviving children are minors. The other approach, which has considerable advantages, is to put the children’s estate into a trust.

So, to define our terms: A guardian of the person is appointed, in place of the parents, to physically take custody of a minor or incompetent person and care for their physical needs. The guardian of the estate is someone who qualifies, with the approval of a court, to take responsibility for the child’s or incompetent adult’s finances. A trust is a contractual arrangement by which assets are entrusted to the care of a person – the trustee – who is obligated to manage them for the child’s benefit. A trust operates on a different legal foundation than a guardianship.

Why choose a trust? Without one, a guardian must be named to manage any assets left to minors. That guardian may also need a lawyer and accountant. All these people must be paid, and those costs come from the child’s assets. Guardians must be bonded (a form of insurance that requires annual premiums) and must make regular reports to the court.

That court oversight also requires a fee, which is based on the value of the assets involved. So, the seemingly easier option, in fact, comes with considerable costs and complexities.

If a trust is used instead, no bond or court accounting is required. The trustee would have full power to manage and protect the children’s inherited assets. That’s not to say a trustee isn’t accountable, however. The trustee would still be required to provide regular statements to someone that the parents appoint when the trust is set up. That might be the guardian of the person, but could just as easily be anyone else. Either way, no court costs are involved.

And while there’s a cost to having a trustee manage an estate, even under a guardianship someone has to be in charge. Either way, in other words, would involve some cost for investment management.

This is a situation our company has dealt with many times; we function as trustees to benefit our clients’ surviving children.

In one of those relationships, we manage trusts for two minor children. These were set up under a settlement agreement established through a wrongful death suit. We provide tuition and other expenses for the children’s private schools, camps, and other activities. We are investing the proceeds from the settlement to provide for their college educations and to help with whatever other needs may come up. Both are healthy, so they have only routine medical needs, but the trust would provide for whatever care they might ever need.

It might seem that setting up a trust is a complex undertaking. But it’s less involved than all the hoops somebody would have to jump through to set up a guardianship for a child who inherits an estate outright. Costs less, too!

All the decisions about how assets are managed, and when they are distributed, are up to you, rather than determined by a default that’s dictated by law. That’s important because sometimes it’s necessary to make provisions that a guardianship can’t accommodate. One obvious example: A guardianship automatically expires once a child reaches the age of 18. But there are plenty of good reasons to keep some level of oversight on that now-adult child’s assets.

Even if you are 100 percent confident you’ll live at least until your children become legal adults – and who can be that certain? — you still may want to shield them from the temptations of getting too much money too young. It’s a reality these days: despite reaching official adulthood, some young people haven’t yet matured in terms of their financial decision-making abilities.

Another reason to consider putting an inheritance in trust for adult children is to protect their assets from being taken by a future ex-spouse. (I know the phrase “future ex-spouse” sounds like a joke, but with more than half of all marriages ending in divorce, it’s simple prudence to consider the possibilities. Someday your child might marry someone who doesn’t work out.) Likewise, should a child get into debt trouble, a trust is shielded from creditors. So even if you have every confidence that your offspring will grow up to be responsible money managers, it doesn’t hurt to anticipate the worst that might happen. After all, even with the highest skills and the best intentions, anybody can run into bad luck, such as a business failure, accident, or catastrophic illness.

Here’s another possibility. You can continue to protect your heirs’ assets from creditors (including ex-spouses) even after they have been entrusted to make their own financial decisions. The trust can be structured so that, after achieving a specific age, the child becomes the co-trustee. So, while the original trustee may still have the power to decide how money is distributed, the (adult) child can name somebody else to that trustee’s position. That’s an excellent way to phase in a child’s financial independence.

What all this adds up to is that trusts are incredibly flexible, and can be structured to achieve a wide range of objectives, not just for minors but for people of any age.  But because of all the possibilities, and unavoidable legal complexities, it’s a subject that’s best discussed with a qualified estate-management professional.

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

Written by Susan Willett

In past articles, I have stressed the importance of having a plan and reviewing that plan on a regular basis.  That has and will always be my advice.  I have discussed various aspects of what should be included in the plan, who should be included, how often to review, what types of documents should be included, etc.  One thing; however, that I have not covered yet is a subject near and dear to my heart- our pets.  What happens to our furry, feathered or scaly friends when we pass?  With the recent hurricane activity we’ve seen, this has certainly been an issue that has been in the forefront of many people’s minds.  So, how can we make sure that they are properly taken care of?  There are several ways.  Pet trusts are one of those ways.  All fifty states (except Minnesota) now recognize pet trusts and allow owners to set aside funds for the care of their fur babies.  In most states, there are limitations placed on these trusts such as:

  • Amount of funds
  • Life of pet
  • 21 years
  • Whichever comes first

 

Like a regular trust, these plans typically name a trustee to oversee the trust, that funds are invested properly, and distributions are made for the benefit of the pet.  The agreement would also name a caregiver to provide for the physical well-being of the animals. So how do you go about establishing this plan?

 

  • Create a basic budget- how much does it normally cost to take care of your pet on an annual basis, including unexpected vet bills
  • Decide on who you would want to care for them and make sure to discuss it with that person(s) to ensure that they are willing and able to take on the responsibility
  • Decide on who should be the one to handle the funds since it should be someone different than the caregiver, for obvious reasons
  • Consider leaving a certain amount to the caregiver; however, for their time and efforts on your behalf and that of your beloved babe.
  • Ensure that the caregiver is fully aware of any medical needs, feeding habits veterinarian name/location, favorite toys/food and any other quirks specific to Fluffy that would be helpful in making the transition that comes with your passing.
  • Decide what happens with any funds that are leftover when Fido goes to that big fire hydrant in the sky. Do they go the way of the remainder of your estate?  To an animal related charity?  Either way, it should be spelled out in the agreement.

 

 

If your sweet little companion is as close to you as mine are, then you know that, when the time comes, the loss will hit them as hard as it does any human.  Unfortunately, we don’t know how animals view death, but we do know that they understand loss and separation, so anything that can be done to minimize the stress on everyone involved is worth the effort.  As always, if you would like more information on this subject or any other discussed in our articles, please feel free to contact one of our advisors here at ONST.

 

 

 

 

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

The Boogeyman has arrived!  And it’s not even Halloween!  When you hear about identity theft, you think that it won’t happen to you.  Especially when we write articles and teach others how to protect themselves against such occurrences.  With the recent Equifax breach, this nightmare has hit home to millions of Americans- 143 estimated million, in fact.  When it happens to one of the big guys that is supposed to help protect us from these thieves, then it really gets scary.  So, what to do now?  Well, there are a few steps you can take to determine if you have been subject to this breach and then, what to do about it.

 

First, go to the Equifax website- www.equifaxsecurity2017.com/potential-impact.  It will ask for information to determine whether or not they think you have been compromised.  If so, they will provide you with one year of free credit monitoring and identity theft protection services.  Once you enroll, you will be sent an e-mail to confirm your enrollment.  However, there is a very high enrollment rate, so the e-mail may take some time to arrive.

 

What should you do in the meantime?  The same things that we have suggested that you do in another article- which are steps that you should always take to protect your identity.  We will list a few here.

 

  • Obtain a copy of your credit report! That’s an obvious one.  Check it for errors, unauthorized information, etc.
  • Lock your credit report so that new creditors can’t access it unless you unlock it. Then, monitor the file on a regular basis.
  • Consider using a credit monitoring company. You may even have a service available to you from your bank or other financial company.  There are other companies available that offer a variety of fee-based services.
  • If necessary, freeze your credit report. You will have to contact each agency to do so, but if the breach is serious enough, it will be worth the effort.
  • Everyday efforts should include never having your Social Security card in your wallet or purse, maintaining strict controls over passwords and using ones that are not easy to figure out, utilizing a single credit card with a low limit for online purchases and shredding sensitive documents on a regular basis.

 

We live in a brave new world and we must take steps to protect ourselves.  It’s not fun and certainly entails taking additional precautions, but as the old saying goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”!

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

The most carefully thought-out estate plans can go badly awry if one simple detail isn’t attended to carefully. That detail is designating the beneficiaries for everything from trusts and wills to insurance policies and bank accounts.

It’s easy to overlook these important details, but as circumstances change, outdated beneficiary designations can completely derail your intentions. This is a matter that can require fairly frequent attention. Ideally – and your financial advisor can help with this – you’ll review all of these on a consistent schedule.

In estate planning, we’ll often do a lot of work creating a plan to make sure our clients’ assets — the accumulation of a lifetime’s wealth — are disposed of exactly as they wish. And yet it’s entirely too common for the client to go and mess up the whole thing by inadvertently changing – or neglecting to change — a beneficiary designation. This can easily defeat the estate plan’s whole purpose!

All that time, effort, money, etc. can go down the drain due to one simple oversight.

For example, just the other day we were talking with a client who has changed her will several times for various reasons. But through it all, she has been entirely consistent about one thing: she is crystal clear about what she wants her family to get. Or, in one case, not to get.

However, recently she has made some changes to bank accounts because she believes she is starting to experience dementia. That realization is a positive thing; sadly, too many people in the same situation are in denial and refuse to seek help. Fortunately, this client recognized that she does need help in managing her money. When we heard this, we asked her if she had added a certain family member’s name to her bank account. No, she said, not yet. But she was planning to do so.

That set off alarm bells. We told her that, if she did put this relative’s name on her bank account, all the money in that account would pass directly to that person at her death. We thought she was going to keel over right then and there! She has six figures in that account and absolutely does NOT want that money going to that particular relative.

She was under the very common misperception that putting someone else’s name on an account would just give them access needed to help pay bills and balance the checkbook. What she didn’t realize was that this change would remove that account from her estate. So instead of being distributed in accordance with her will, that money would just become the property of the relative whose name was on the account.

Whether it’s a bank account, an investment account or an insurance policy, people all too often designate beneficiaries at the beginning and then forget all about it. And unfortunately, a too common example is a divorced person who has neglected to remove the ex-spouse as a beneficiary.

Even if you don’t think a change is needed, it’s a very good idea to double-check these designations every so often, just to be sure everything is up to date.

We had a client who needed to change the designation on a life insurance policy. She found out that it listed an incorrect address and Social Security number for the previous beneficiary! Like so many people, she had not contacted the insurance company since she first bought the policy, so no one realized the information was incorrect.

Any important life event, such as a birth, marriage, divorce, etc., should trigger a review of all beneficiary designations. The objective is simple: to ensure that they are still what the owner intends. This is crucial for a very important legal reason. No matter what intent is written into a will or trust, it will be superseded by whatever beneficiary designations are on file.

The best-laid plans of mice and men! If the designations are out of sync with the will or trust, all that planning will be for naught.

Some types of assets or accounts will get special treatment if the spouse is named the beneficiary. Those include such retirement accounts as IRAs and 401(k)s. So, assuming the marriage is harmonious and there’s no other reason not to do so, it’s a good idea to name the spouse as beneficiary.

If in doubt about whether beneficiary designations are in sync or at odds with the rest of your estate plan, you should review everything with your estate planner or investment advisor. It would be a shame for all your planning to end in a stalemate.

One other very important consideration is naming contingent beneficiaries. Just in case the person or persons you name don’t survive you, specifying who would be next in line eliminates any guesswork or uncertainty. Yes, we all think we’re invincible, and we can predict who will go in what order. And yet I have seen 80-year-old clients who have outlived heirs in their 30s. It can and does happen. Consider the rare but real possibility, for example, that both estate owner and beneficiary might die together in a car wreck or plane crash.

A somewhat related matter is that if any of your beneficiaries are minors, you should be sure to specify who will be handling the money for them.

The bottom line: any well-designed investment portfolio or estate plan requires periodic checkups. It’s always a good idea to review your beneficiary designations as part of that process.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends.  The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics.  Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances.  The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely. 

As we continue our steadfast dedication to our clients and our community, we are excited to share the news of the repositioning of our corporate headquarters to the eastern corridor of the historic Revolution Mill.  Ours is a company with an extensive history, upheld by humble concepts that have been passed down for generations: a dedication to taking care of clients and employees and staying above board and honest in all business transactions.  The underpinning of such efforts is a history of proven customer satisfaction – a product of our having remained an independent company, providing the most personalized service available.

The origins and philosophy of the Old North State can be traced back to the early 1900’s, shortly after the Sternbergers and Cone Brothers broke ground on what would later become the world’s largest exclusive textile producing mill, and later dubbed Revolution Mill.  Denis de St. Aubin, founder and CEO of Old North State Trust, formed our company over two decades ago in an effort to manage family assets tied to the sale of a family clothing and hosiery business that was first established in 1916.  In 1992 he started a Registered Investment Company, which soon-after evolved into a full-service provider with expertise in Financial and Estate Planning, Portfolio Management, Retirement Plans, and Trust Services.  Having received its charter from the Commissioner of Banks in 2004 to officially operate as a trust company, Old North State Trust remains the only Greensboro-based financial firm whose entire team of experts work in unanimity and under the same roof, bolstering the synergy among different departments that results in higher efficiency and superior results for our clients.

The new year will help to commemorate where it all began for Old North State Trust, as we look forward to relocating our Greensboro headquarters to the recently restored Revolution Mill.  This measure will weave together the antiquity of the historic North Carolina landmark and our dyed-in-the-wool culture of family success realized strictly through that of our clients and the families we serve.

We thank you all for joining us in support of our history – and our future.

 

 

 

Note – we plan to celebrate our new office transition appropriately, and we hope you will be able to join us in that celebration.  Please expect further details in the very near future!