G. Ward Beaudry
The Ethical Will -
Passing on the Priceless
The Ethical Will is designed to pass on the things to which you can't attach a price tag - the priceless things that say who you are, the things you want loved ones to know and understand.
I'm in the business of making sure that your financial wishes are carried out the way you choose after you are no longer around to choose. As my client, you trust me to steer you to the best options for you and your heirs, options that will stand up to legal challenges.
Trust and will documents are bare and legal and serve very specific purposes.
An Ethical Will, on the other hand, is non-legal, non-financial and non-binding, but they are increasingly seen as important to legacy-building and can even help avoid nasty family conflicts.
The newer ones are taking advantage of technology and often aren't paper documents at all, but rather digital files that can take the forms of videos, music or PowerPoint presentations. The audio and video can better communicate the desires the will maker wants to convey because of the emotion transferred through tone of voice, facial expressions and posture.
Please contact me if you have any questions or concerns. I am always happy to take your call.
(888) 330-1467 or (214) 969-0001
Leaving the Right Person in Charge
It is Often NOT the Obvious Choice
The decision to pick an executor, trustee or attorney-in-fact is a very important one as the position involves strict duties.
First, this person must always put himself or herself last in terms of his actions relative to the person served. The decision can be a difficult one, especially if the person chosen is a family member.
You want to select someone competent and trustworthy. Further, the person will have many complex responsibilities and might be actively involved with the beneficiaries for many years. The fiduciary does not need to be an expert on legal and financial matters, but should be trustworthy, possess common sense and be responsible enough to work with experts in investments, accounting, taxes and law.
Your candidates for this job should clearly understand the responsibilities, as they can be significant, often long term and sometimes involve conflict among heirs. If a competent and appropriate individual is not available, you may want to designate a Trust company. We can recommend several with exemplary reputations.
Choosing a trustee or executor of your will is one of the most important of the fiduciary decisions you will make. Sadly, this decision often receives less attention than it deserves.
If it is not clear that a family member will work best, alternatives should be considered.
For a more detailed discussion on this topic, see this article from
or my discussion on our website,
Competent advice is just a phone call away.
Blended Family Realities are Common - I Should Know
As many of you know, I was blessed to find and marry a wonderful lady in 2008.
Diana has four children and I have one son. That makes us part of the 42 percent of adult Americans who are part of what is referred to as a blended family, according to the 2011 Pew Research study.
This makes me intimately aware of the potential complications involved in preparing estate planning for a blended family.
We urge our clients to plan for the distribution of personal, sentimental items (like a family heirloom) and remain empathetic towards the family's unique situation. One concept, among many, that should be explored is including a Memorandum Clause dealing with personality items that have sentimental value.
It is important to ensure that the expectations of the children on both sides of the marriage are met. They might not even know each other. As is always the case in estate planning, it is better to make things clear and forestall potential problems up front. Doing otherwise often results in serious conflict during a time that is already stressful.
Barbara Bates Sedoric has a well-written article in Investment News that is consistent with my approach. Find it
For assistance with any estate issues, please contact Mr. Beaudry at 214-969-0001 or by email at
Advice for Handing Down an Estate
It is a daunting task to think about handing down an estate built up over a lifetime. Here are a few concepts to consider to help with peace of mind, well-planned giving and transfer of assets. Five of these are from a Forbes article by Karen Haywood Queen, but are in line with my strategies.
- If you have a high net worth, a charitable remainder trust might be appropriate. It will guarantee a lifetime revenue stream and offer great tax rewards.
- If you are handing down a family business, the beneficiary might face a large estate tax expense. To protect the family from making a bad long term move in the face of a large tax bill, use a fully funded life insurance trust to provide a source of funds for the tax bill.
- Set conditions on how the inheritance will be spent to protect beneficiaries from themselves. Even a minimal condition might prevent someone from running through their inheritance.
- Use a reliable third party as a trustee, particularly when many discretionary distributions will be made. This could preserve family peace if difficult decisions need to be made.
- It sounds simple, but make absolutely sure the correct legal names are used on a document. Failing to update beneficiaries or misidentifying a person may lead to burdensome consequences for loved ones.
- Consider the potential of identifying a Trust Protector to oversee the administration of the estate (see article below).
Mr. Beaudry is happy to assist with any estate issues. Phone him at 214-969-0001 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A "Trust Protector"
Another Level of Peace of Mind
To gain the full effect of tax advantages created with the formation of trusts, most times the trusts need to be irrevocable. A way to build in some future flexibility is to create a "trust protector," who can be granted authority to alter trust terms in the future.
The role has been compared to a corporate board of directors. While a CEO is taking care of day-to-day operations, the board can weigh in on critical decisions. The trust protector's role can be customized based on the oversight powers granted when the position is created.
Trust protectors offer many benefits. For example, a protector with the power to remove and replace the trustee can do so if the trustee develops a conflict of interest or fails to manage the trust assets in the beneficiaries' best interests.
A protector with the power to modify the trust's terms can correct mistakes in the trust document or clarify ambiguous language. Or, a protector with the power to change the way trust assets are distributed, if necessary to achieve your original objectives, can help ensure your loved ones are provided for in the way you would have desired.
This option is a recent concept. For a discussion giving more detail,
read more here.
Savings Plans for Families with Special Needs
New ABLE Accounts Predicted for 2016
Congress passed the ABLE Act (Achieving a Better Life Experience) in 2014, creating a tax advantaged savings plan similar to the popular and successful 529 College Savings Plans. The plans are implemented at the state level and Texas followed suit in 2015 and established its own plan.
The plans, known as 529A accounts, allow tax advantaged distributions for certain expenses for special needs individuals, including housing, transportation, health and wellness, education and more. Use of funds from the account would not disqualify the individual from other federal and state aid, including Medicaid.
The program is being administered by the Texas Comptroller's office and the Coalition for Texans with Disabilities (CTD) is keeping tabs on the status of the accounts. The CTD predicts the accounts will be available starting in 2016.
to see a document with more information on the accounts, a timeline for implementation and a link to join an Action Group to keep tabs on status of the accounts.
The accounts will not be appropriate for all estate plans, but it is another tool that can help some families.
G. Ward Beaudry, Esq.
4200 Thanksgiving Tower
1601 Elm Street
Dallas, Texas 75201-7203
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Who Needs a Will?
As a result of Congress' actions in 2012, estate taxes have been eliminated for all but the largest estates. If you have a large one, you probably already know you need a will. If your estate falls below the thresholds, please don't fall prey to the notion that you can do without one. The concept of a will is to ensure your assets go to the right people at the right time and in the right manner. Without one, the state makes those decisions. There are many other issues, including the care of minor children. Please don't leave these decisions to chance. We are here to assist.
In the Community
Ward couldn't ride because of an injury, but he still made the Top 100 Club for fundraising MS150 DFW bike ride. Ward finished #57 and has announced that although he will continue to participate in cycling events, he will no longer ask friends and associates to contribute. Thanks to everyone who has been so generous in the past!
Ward honored again for 2015 as a Top Rated Lawyer and a Top Attorney in Texas
Among G. Ward Beaudry's qualifications
- Accredited by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Member, National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
- Member, College of the State Bar of Texas