The Thirty-A Review September 2020

l e g a l e a g l e s

Seasonal Solutions b y F r a n k Wa t s o n a n d K i m b e r l y Wa t s o n S e w e l l

L ife is lived in stages, and the rhythm of our lives mirrors the rhythm of the natural seasons. Whether you are in the spring, summer, autumn, or winter of life, your Life & Estate Planning objectives will inevitably change. This article is relevant regardless of whether you currently have a Life & Estate plan. If you do not have a Life & Estate Plan, it will help you appreciate the need for property planning. If you already have a Life & Estate Plan, it will reinforce the need to keep your plan up-to-date as you move between seasons. SPRING In the context of Life & Estate Planning, spring begins on your 18th birthday. On that magical day, you become responsible for your own personal, health care, and financial decisions. The adults in your life suddenly become your peers in a legal sense. Unless you give your parents, or other trusted adults, proper legal authority in advance, they cannot make personal, health care, or financial decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated due to an injury or an illness. For example, they would not be able to select a rehabilitation setting for you, have access to your medical records, represent your interests regarding the course of your treatment or even file your income tax return. The failure to make proper legal plans in advance could force you and your loved ones into the Incapacity Probate process by default, because these decisions must be made even if you are unable to make them yourself. Making proper legal plans now could avoid creating potential problems for your loved ones later. SUMMER As you grow older, you may get married. It has been said that a marriage may be made in heaven, but the maintenance must be done on earth. As part of your marital maintenance, you should review and update your Life & Estate Plan periodically. For instance, your legal plans should be updated to appoint your spouse as the primary decision-maker for personal, health care and financial decisions, if you wish for your spouse to have authority to make such decisions. In addition, you should take steps to ensure that your separate and mutual assets would be distributed as desired should either spouse predecease the other, or in the event of your simultaneous deaths. First comes love, then comes marriage, often followed by a baby carriage. If you have children, make

proper business succession planning is a must. (This planning is essential, especially since family businesses have a dismal survival rate.) WINTER Through advanced legal planning, you can even disinherit the IRS and leave more wealth to your descendants by maximizing the Generation-Skipping Transfer Tax Exemption available under the Internal Revenue Code. Have you made proper legal plans for the distribution of your charitable legacy to your favorite causes and institutions? In fact, many of the charitable legal plans available can help you increase your current income and offer valuable tax deductions! Regardless, be sure to seek appropriate legal counsel to ensure compliance with tax laws. This is not a “do-it- yourself ” project. ASK YOURSELF... These Questions Regarding “Seasonal Solutions”. 1. Have I made proper legal plans to appoint someone of my own selection to make my personal, health care, and financial decisions should I ever become incapacitated? 2. Have I made proper legal plans to appoint legal guardians for my minor children in the event they ever become orphans? 3. Have I made proper legal plans to protect any inheritance I leave for my children from squan- dering, divorces, lawsuits or bankruptcies? 4. Have I made proper legal plans to protect any inheritance I leave for my children in the event my surviving spouse remarries? 5. Have I made proper legal plans to continue my family business upon my death? 6. Have I made proper legal plans to leave a finan- cial legacy for my loved ones and a charitable legacy for my favorite causes and institutions?

Kimberly Watson Sewell and Frank Watson

certain that your legal plans are updated to appoint guardians should your minor children be left with- out parents. AUTUMN When your children become adults, you may wish to update your legal plans and appoint your children as secondary decision-makers should your spouse be unable to serve in such a capacity for you. Consider creating Long-Term Discretionary Trusts for your children to protect their inheritance both from them and for them. Otherwise, your financial legacy could be lost to squandering, divorces, lawsuits, or bankruptcies. While you are at it, consider including remarriage protection provisions in your legal plans to protect the children’s inheritance by disinheriting your surviving spouse’s next spouse in the event of remarriage. Is a major asset in your estate a family business? To preserve both the business and your family relationships,

For more information, please contact: Watson Sewell, PL (850) 231-3465 -

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