Buy Life Insurance Like a Pro

Usually, folks buy life insurance just once or twice during their lifetime. So it’s no surprise that a lot of folks aren’t familiar with the ins and outs of policy protection. The potential pitfalls are significant, however, so review the following tips before buying a life insurance policy.

Get the Right Type and Amounts

Do some preliminary research. You need to be sure you are in the know, so you don’t buy a product or amount that you don’t need or overlook the types and amounts that are right for you. Your estate planning attorney can help you make objective decisions about your insurance needs.

If You Can, Supplement Your Employee-Benefit Life Insurance

Let’s face it, jobs change. You shouldn’t rely on an employee benefit that may not carry over if you leave the company. Also, you may experience medical issues before you leave the company, which may make it more difficult to buy coverage later. So consider buying outside coverage while you can.

Don’t Name a Minor as a Beneficiary

If you’ve named a minor child as a beneficiary, or even a secondary beneficiary, after your spouse, you could be creating double trouble. First, your life insurance would have to go through a court process and subject to the control of a financial guardian, and then second, whatever is left would be distributed to your minor child when he or she turns 18. You can easily avoid this by naming a trust as beneficiary of your life insurance, thereby keeping your life insurance out of court and ensuring your child doesn’t receive control until he or she is ready. Plus, then you get to decide who takes care of the life insurance money you are leaving behind, until it’s distributed to your child. And you can even build in protection against your child’s future divorce, or any creditor issues.

Term Insurance to Fund Divorce Settlements

If you receive child support or alimony, insist that your ex-spouse have a term life insurance policy to guarantee you are able to collect on your settlement or support obligations, if your  ex-spouse dies before completing the payments.

Compare Quotes for Whole and Term

Many experts suggest that folks only need life insurance to cover their working years and while they raise a family. But before you decide on what kind you want, think about your budget and your goals. Term life insurance is typically affordable and covers you when you need it most. Permanent insurance typically costs more, but is helpful to cover estate taxes or if you want to use it as an investment vehicle with guaranteed returns or for creditor protection.

Don’t Overlook Living Benefits

A living benefits rider could allow you to access funds if you were diagnosed as terminally ill or with a chronic and debilitating condition. Keep in mind that the chances of becoming disabled before you retire are increasing. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, just over 1 in 4 of today’s twenty-year olds will become disabled before they retire.

Consider the Big Picture

Insurance is a valuable part of your estate plan. If you’re interested in learning more about how insurance fits in with protecting your family and achieving your goals, start by sitting down with attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. As your family’s personal lawyer, she can walk you step by step through creating a plan that will help you provide for your family if something happens to you.






Teaching Your Kids About Money

Part of being a parent involves preparing our kids to make good choices when they grow up, especially when it comes to finances. So, how do you teach kids about smart financial decision-making? What lessons should you teach? Is leading by example enough? Raising a child to be money savvy doesn’t have to be hard, especially if you have valuable lessons to pass down.

We can best teach our children to be money savvy by modeling the habits we want them to take on for themselves and by involving them in the process. A good place to start is by being transparent about your financial habits.  For example, you could have a monthly financial meeting and include your kids, and each month review your household income and expenses, like a business owner would when reviewing their profit and loss each month.

Modeling sound financial decision-making for your child is an excellent opportunity to take a deeper look at your own financial habits. This is a good time to take an honest look at your finances to make sure you are on track to meet your goals. Assess your financial health and consider taking steps now to secure your financial future. Practice what you preach and know that your children are watching, so make sure you are modeling habits you’d be proud for them to develop as they enter adulthood.

And when it comes to estate planning, your financial health is important because you want to make sure that your family is taken care of if something happens to you. It’s not enough to accumulate assets, save money and buy insurance, you need a plan for structuring your assets and beneficiaries in a way that ensure your assets go to the right people and that your intentions are carried out.

Don’t know where to start? Schedule a Life and Legacy Planning Session with attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. As your family’s personal lawyer, she can guide you in creating a comprehensive plan that protects your family’s future. Call us at (813) 514-2946.



Protect Your Assets Now

Asset protection planning is an important step to take in safeguarding your hard-earned assets from being lost, inadvertently, because you overlooked something important. The most foundational level of asset protection is to plan for what will happen to your assets in the event of your incapacity or death because you are 100% guaranteed to have one or both of those happen to you.

If you become incapacitated or die without proper planning in place, your assets could get stuck in the court system, and could be delayed in getting to your loved ones’ or even lost. If you have not reviewed your planning for death or incapacity in the past couple of years, consult a qualified estate planning attorney.

And, what about planning to protect assets from things that could happen during life, such as potential litigation from accidents or other mishaps? First and foremost, buy insurance! Insurance can pay to defend you in the event a lawsuit is brought against you. If you own a business, make sure you’ve fully separated personal and business assets. And make sure that you are using your business entity properly, to ensure that any business activities are kept within your business entity. You should also review whether you personally guaranteed any loans, so that you can understand your potential exposure.

To be effective, asset protection must be set up ahead of time. Consult an estate planning attorney now to review your current asset protection strategy and learn how tools like insurance fit into the big picture of protecting your hard-earned assets and providing for your loved ones. If you want to learn more about asset protection strategies and estate planning, contact Myrna Serrano Setty at (813) 514-2946 to schedule a planning session.





August is National Make-a-Will Month

According to a recent national survey, over 75% of people ages 18 to 36 don’t have a will and over 60% of people ages 37 to 52 don’t have a will. People tend to put this off because they don’t want to think about death or think they don’t have enough assets to worry about estate planning.

Having a will is important for every family, regardless of how much money they have. It provides some peace and certainty about how things will be handled after someone passes away. Without a will, the state could get involved in the costly job of trying to determine who inherits. That can complicate things, cause financial hardships and unnecessary drama. It is especially important for parents of young children to document their wishes for the care of their children, should something happen to them. Without any plans, their children could be raised by people that the parents would have never chosen.

This article is a service of attorney Myrna Serrano Setty. Myrna doesn’t just  draft documents; she helps you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why Myrna offers a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling Myrna’s office today at (813) 514-2946  to schedule a Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this valuable session at no charge.



DIY Estate Planning? Buyer Beware!

Of the handful of major life events that require your serious consideration, few are as emotionally charged as how to leave your assets for loved ones at the time of your death. This often complex process is accomplished via testamentary documents such as wills and trusts, which are readily available for purchase online as standard forms. The assets you have acquired during your life and the ways that you own them are often far more complex than a standard legal document or online service can anticipate.  When you make that important decision to create a will or put your assets into a trust, you need an experienced estate planning attorney to guide you so that your wishes for life and death can be carried out without risk of your family getting stuck in court or conflict, when it’s too late.

Your incapacity or death will be an emotional time for your family. During this time, they need guidance, not a set of documents, which may not have even been kept up to date or adequately cover after-acquired assets.

In certain cases, such as being married multiple times, having minor children, or owning a small business, legal assistance is especially necessary. There may also be a variety different tax or asset protection implications for your beneficiaries. Is a trust right for your situation? Is there a way to transfer an asset before you pass, so that it will be protected from claims, creditors or taxation? DIY sites can’t help you with that. The right lawyer can advise you on the best way to handle the different assets you own such as real estate, investments, a small business, or personal property.

You may save money initially if you have a simple, small estate with few assets by just using a form that you find online. However, if you become incapacitated before death, your family could get stuck with a long drawn out court process, as they attempt to get control of your financial assets. And if your document is unclear, contestable, or wholly or partially invalid, it’s your family who will be paying the price down the road. You need a plan that protects you and your loved ones.

Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty doesn’t just draft documents, she will work with you so that you can make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and your loved ones. That’s why she offers a Life and Legacy Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make the best choices for the people you love. Call our office today at (813) 514-2946 to schedule your session today.


Include Your Pet in Your Estate Plan

If your pet is beloved as a family member, you likely want to ensure that he or she will be well cared for if you get very sick or die. Without explicitly stated wishes, these furry family members could end up without a home of their own, if you die or become unable to care for them. To prevent this tragic outcome, include plan for your pet in your estate plan. Here are a few important issues to consider when planning your estate with your beloved pet in mind.

Who will get your pet?

Pets are property and not people. Because of this legal distinction, an agent must be named in your estate plan to take ownership of your pet or arrange for your pet to have a loving home. Without a legally enforceable document stating your wishes, your pet could suffer the fate of many when their owners pass on: an animal shelter.

How will that person provide for your pet?

Pets require food and medical care. These costs can be significant if your pet has a health condition or is aging. Money can be set aside for your pet with specific directions about how those funds can be used and by whom.

How will your pet be cared for?

You may want to consider leaving instructions on how your pet should be cared for, as well as consider financial incentives for the person you’ve named to care for your pet to care for your pet pursuant to your wishes. This is especially important if your pet has any health conditions, is aging or is an exotic animal. Detailed instructions (and the money to carry them out) will ensure your pet’s new guardian can provide the same quality of care you provide now.

To ensure all your loved ones are cared for when you die, you need to create a comprehensive estate plan that will ensure all your wishes are carried out, even if you don’t consider yourself financially wealthy. If you are ready to take that step toward peace of mind, begin by coming in to meet with us.  Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty can help you create a comprehensive estate plan that will protect your assets, your wishes and all your loved ones, furry friends included.

Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty doesn’t just draft documents, she helps you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why she offers a Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make the best choices for your loved ones.  Call us today to schedule a Planning Session. Mention this article to find out how to get this valuable session for free.


Talking About Your Estate Plan

Is it time to have “the talk” with your kids? No, it’s not the a “birds and bees” talk, but one that is equally important, perhaps more so.

Everyone worries about what will happen when they die. Some people worry about their homes, cars, or money. Others worry about their children. But rarely to people want to talk about these things with their loved ones.  Opening these conversations with your family will be difficult, but nowhere near as difficult as it would be on your family in the absence of advance planning. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to help it go more smoothly.

Preparation Is Key

As with many things in life, preparation is a key to success in these conversations. First, when you choose important decision makers, make sure you match the skills of the person to the job. For example, the Personal Representative (also known as the executor) of a will must be able to gather assets, prepare paperwork, handle finances, and deal with potential family disputes. It would be unwise to select an executor who lacks these capabilities. Too often, people choose executors, trustees, guardians, and powers of attorney based on emotions or arbitrary factors, such as who is the oldest child or who might be offended if not chosen. These are difficult, demanding jobs, and you need to choose people who can handle them. It also helps to talk these issues through with an experienced attorney or confidant in advance of making your selections.

Next, prepare your paperwork before your family meeting. Work with your lawyer to make the best decisions possible, and commit them to writing. This will help reduce any misunderstandings about your wishes.

Before the meeting with your family, consider the questions that may arise. For example, if you are worried that one child will be upset because you named another child executor, be ready to answer questions about why you made that decision. It may be that the person you chose is an accountant and would be well-suited for the job, or it may be that you’re worried about overburdening the other child. Whatever the case, be prepared to offer your reasoning. Your explanation will go a long way toward reducing any hard feelings and potential disputes after you’re gone.

Come Prepared for Business

Once you have your family together, it is important that you not only let them know what your decisions are, but also that it is important to you that they support you and each other. Have copies of your documents available so your family can ask questions about them.

Come prepared to answer potential questions. And remember, this may be an uncomfortable topic of discussion for your family members. If someone just can’t get onboard, remember that you are dealing with your life and your assets. The ultimate decisions as to how you handle them are yours, and you can even terminate the meeting if necessary. Also, make sure your family knows that your decisions may change as time goes on.

Finally, remember the goal for this discussion is to provide your family with more than just a set of legal documents outlining your wishes. By talking to them about your intentions you are helping them gain understanding, comfort, and even buy-in with your plan.

Attorney Myrna Serrano Setty believes in developing trusting relationships with families for life. That’s why Myrna offers a Life and Legacy Planning Session, where she can explain wills, trusts, and other alternatives to help identify the best strategies for you and your family. You can begin by calling her office today to schedule a time to sit down and talk because this planning is just too important to put off.