Your Summer Checklist

A checklist helps to ensure there are no gaps in your health care, financial, insurance, or estate plan documents.

Power of Attorney Checklist

  • Are your agents outdated because of age, disability, or residence?
  • Is a minor now old enough to be your agent?
  • Update your Health Care Power of Attorney to include authority for your agent to access health care workers remotely and to visit you via Zoom or Facetime.

Health Care

Whether a trip to the hospital is sudden or planned, you will need a current Health Care Power of Attorney document. You will be asked for this legal document, and if you do not have one, you are required to sign something you do not understand while in the hospital, under stress, and with plenty of other things on your mind.

A Health Care POA appoints a person to make all health care decisions for you if you cannot do so. This person can access your medical records to accept or withdraw treatment, admit or discharge you from the hospital, and make decisions on life support. If you have arrived at the hospital unconscious, it is chaos with your family and medical personnel. This isn’t a situation you want to be in or one you want for your family.

Take a minute to review your existing Health Care POA and ensure your agent is correct and that the document is current.  If you do not have one, now is the time to get one.

Financial

The law holds that no one, not even a spouse, can legally sign your name unless you have a valid Financial Power of Attorney that designates an agent to do so.

Your Financial POA agent has the legal authority to manage your financial affairs if you can no longer make these decisions yourself. A Financial POA is an important document to ensure that your financial matters are handled efficiently in an unfortunate occurrence.

Now is the time to review or obtain a Financial Power of Attorney document.

Beneficiary Designations Checklist

  • Were any children born after you opened your insurance policies or tax-deferred accounts?
  • Have any beneficiaries died?
  • Has your marriage ended, or are you separated from your spouse?
  • Do any beneficiaries have a legal disability? Name your Living Trust to avoid government reimbursement from your estate.
  • Are any beneficiaries minors under the age of 18? Name your Living Trust to avoid Probate.

Living Trust or other Estate Plan Checklist                        

  • What has changed in your family? Have you moved?
  • In the event something happens to you, does your estate plan reflect your current wishes?
  • Are your beneficiaries the same? Do you need to remove a beneficiary or add a new one?
  • Are any changes needed on the timing of the transfer of your assets to your beneficiaries?
  • Do your beneficiaries require asset protection because of disability, legal trouble, or a failing marriage?
  • Is your Trustee or Executor still appropriate?
  • Are all your assets titled in the name of your Living Trusts?

Real Estate Deeds Checklist

  • Did you remember to retitle your property deed into the name of your Living Trust after the refinance closing?  
  • Have you moved your residence? Did you take the title of your new property in the name of your Living Trust?
  • Are you still working?  If so, as the active police and married, the title to the deed of your principal place of residence should be in Tenants by Entirety for maximum asset protection.
  • Have you gotten married?

Living Trusts, if Not Now, When?

We all know that we need an estate plan, and we should take care of it sooner rather than later. However, almost everyone procrastinates when it comes to this essential task.

At the end of your life or incapacitation, they risk Probate if you have property, investments, or bank accounts in your name.

Advantages of a Living Trust

  • A Will is Probate. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as the beneficiary. This is subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
  • A Living Trust contains a No Contest provision and beneficiary Asset Protection clauses.
Tom Tuohy
Tom Tuohy

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

POD and TOD Account Disadvantages

Probate Court

POD and TOD Accounts

What are POD and TODs? They are an increasingly popular method of providing for the distribution of financial accounts at your death. They are helpful in certain situations; however, there are critical limitations and risks associated with using them.

Payable of Death (POD)

A Payable on Death (POD) designation is commonly available at banks and used for checking and savings accounts and CDs. Other financial institutions usually use a Transfer on Death (TOD) designation. A POD and TOD are both used to name a beneficiary for which the account balance transfers on death.

  • Advantages
    • Useful for transfer on death in smaller estates of less than $100,000 in total assets with no particular circumstances. (see below)
    • Appropriate for many checking accounts, particularly those held at Chase Bank, to avoid inconveniences.
    • Avoids Probate, but comes with risks.
  • Disadvantages
    • Disinheriting: Regardless of the size of your estate, you might unintentionally disinherit a child or other intended beneficiary. Or the beneficiary might not share the funds with your other children as you had hoped. The account ownership automatically transfers to the only person(s) named on TOD or POD. These funds now become part of the named beneficiaries’ family estate if that person dies simultaneously with you or shortly after your death.
    • Creditors: Since the funds are owned by your beneficiary immediately, they are also subject to any creditor claims, lawsuits, or divorce filed against the beneficiary.
    • Minors: The same as with life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts and IRAs or other beneficiary designations. If the beneficiary is under 18 at the time of your death, the proceeds or funds go to Probate.
    • Disability: If your beneficiary has a disability now or acquires one from an accident or illness before your death. In that case, the POD and TOD funds could end up with the government or jeopardize their Medicaid and SSI.
    • Predeceased Beneficiary: If your beneficiary dies with you or before your death, the funds are subject to Probate. There are no alternate beneficiaries on TOD/POD accounts.
    • Squandering Inheritance: Statistics show that most inheritance is spent within18 to 36 months. I am confident the time shortens, the younger the beneficiary.

POD vs Living Trusts

I write about Living Trusts frequently because they are much more than an estate plan. Living Trusts organize your assets now and safeguard them after your death. They also can avoid all of the above disadvantages of POD/TOD designations.

Living Trusts also protect your assets from Guardianship Court if you acquire a disability. Additionally, if you are contemplating a second marriage, a Living Trust is essential to segregate your assets from future marital funds acting as prenuptial protection.   

Living Trusts, if Not Now, When?

We all know that we need an estate plan, and we should take care of it sooner rather than later. However, almost everyone procrastinates when it comes to this essential task.

At the end of your life or incapacitation, they risk Probate if you have property, investments, or bank accounts in your name.

Advantages of a Living Trust

  • A Will is Probate. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as the beneficiary. This is subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.
  • A Living Trust contains a No Contest provision and beneficiary Asset Protection clauses.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

George Halas Prince, and a Chicago Cop

alt="judges gavel and scales of justice ruling in Probate on estate plan"
Probate Court

What could those three people possibly have in common?

Horrendous estate planning.

Not Having an Estate Plan

Prince

Let's dispense with Prince first and then find out why George Halas and a Chicago police officer have unofficially ranked #1 and # 2 as the two worst estates the decades-long Chief Judge of Cook County Probate ever heard.

The musician Prince died on April 21, 2016. He had no estate plan. Six years later, his estate, valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, is still in the predictable mess of the Probate Court system. Because Prince left no estate plan, the state is left to determine how much his estate is worth and who will receive it.  

Having a Plan, but not a Good Plan   

If it sounds unimaginable that someone with assets, royalties, and a legacy eventually worth billions didn't plan for the inevitable day he wouldn't be here, the list of well-known people who did the same can fill a book. The court ordered Jackie Onnasis's personal property sold to pay otherwise avoidable estate taxes. James Gandolfini, "Tony Soprano," had a Will, but not a Marital Trust, and because of that mistake, his estate paid the IRS $30 million, and his 13-year-old son ended up in the center of, you guessed it, a Probate battle. 

Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Tony Hsieh, founder of Zappos (that estate may never settle), Kobe Bryant; the list goes on.  

George Halas

On October 31, 1983, George Halas died without a Living Trust or a workable succession plan for the Chicago Bears. He wanted his son, Mugsy Halas to take over the Bears, but Mugsy died suddenly in 1979 and George never created an alternate plan. For over a dozen years the children of Mugsy and the children of his daughter Virginia McCaskey battled in Cook County Probate Court to the extent ownership shares of the Bears had to be sold to pay for the legal fees. The Halas kids weren't even invited to the Super Bowl. Today many fans wish the McCaskeys sold all their shares.

Most importantly, this mess is not what George Halas wanted, for his family and for the Chicago Bears.

The Chicago Cop

A Chicago Police Officer died leaving a Will as his estate plan to provide for his seven children. His kids fought each other in Probate Court for 18 years until there was nothing left in their father's estate. One day I stood before the chief judge who told me he hated this case as much as he did George Halas' case. 

Whether it was the grandchildren of George Halas and the future of the Chicago Bears or the children of a Chicago Police Officer and a family's entire savings and legacy, none of it should have happened, and all of it avoided.

Having a Will or no Will as an Estate Plan = Probate 

If there's a Will, there's relatives. And if there isn't a Will, there are even more relatives.

A Will is merely your wishes that a Probate Court follows to distribute your assets. A Last Will and Testament must be probated. This rule comes from the law that no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, if you die with assets in your name, a Probate Court judge must appoint an Executor to sign your name for the asset transfers to your named beneficiaries. If you do not have a Will, the court determines who receives your assets.

The system cannot handle everyone's estate. Therefore, it can take years to get through the process. And that is if no one contests, which is very easy to do. It doesn't matter if you are a celebrity or not, Probate is not the way to go.

The police officer's kids fought with each other because they could. Every example I gave above was easily avoidable.  

Living Trust Estate Plan Avoids Probate

I have spent more time in Probate Court than I ever want to remember. So, I dedicated my career to helping people avoid the system, keep their affairs private, and their families at peace with each other, and grateful for you and your memory. No matter who you are, that is a legacy you deserve.

The first hurdle of planning is just getting it done. Estate planning is not high on anyone's list. But we all know how uncertain life is, and none of us are getting out of this thing alive. And none of us know when we will go. 

To avoid massive headaches and expenses for your family, and give yourself peace of mind now, what you need today is a Living Trust estate plan. 

How does a Living Trust Work?

Your real estate titles (in all states) transfer from your name to your Trust name. Life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations. 

A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate. 

And finally, a Living Trust contains a No Contest provision, as well as beneficiary asset protection clauses.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

312-559-8444
17W220 22nd Street  
Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, 60181

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Know Your Health Care Rights

We have all experienced the health care system. Honestly, can you say you are looking forward to your next experience? Part of it is the uncertainty of what we will find out. However, most of our anxiety and frustration is about the feeling we are not in control. Well, you can be, and you have the right to be in total control of your health and your care.

HIPPA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is an often abused federally protected patient health care protection.  Unfortunately, most of us roll our eyes at the mention of those letters, because typically the process brings bureaucratic delivery, endless seemingly unnecessary paperwork, and lack of ease. Consequently, HIPPA is often a sword against us rather than a shield protecting us.

Essential Health Care Rights        

HIPPA guarantees your fundamental health care rights:

  • You have the right to request and receive copies of all of your health care records.  Don't let any medical provider tell you differently or delay producing your health care records. I know from legal experience that with medical errors or less than ideal treatment, the production of records slows down. If you are ever on the receiving end of improper care or malpractice, immediately demand to see every single one of your records, including all nurse's notes, lab testing, x-rays, act. This information is essential even if your care was excellent. It is your health care history, and it can be critical to successful and timely treatment in the future.
  • You have the right to share this information with others and request that your provider do so.
  • Your must receive your medical records within 30 days.
  • Medical record production cannot be denied if your bill is not paid in full.
  • You can request delivery of records on paper, digitally, or viewed online. Today, having a digital health care dashboard is a feature that should be common for health care providers. It allows you to have all your records in an easily viewed and indexed digital platform. Your entire health care history can be available to you and, importantly, be available for your subsequent health care treatment and discussion of options.

Informed Consent

This notion that we are in the dark about our health care history and options for treatment and hand over our health and welfare to medical providers is what we grew up expecting.

Most hospitals have patient advocates available to help you fully understand your condition and treatment options. Use them.

Always insist on a thorough and understandable explanation of your treatment, options, expected outcomes, and access to second or third opinions. It is your health and your future.

Health Care Power of Attorney

You have the right to appoint an agent to act on your behalf to make all health care decisions for you if you are unable or unwilling to do so. Therefore, please do not risk leaving that power in the hands of medical providers instead of your family or trusted friend.

Importantly, this essential document also includes your comprehensive instructions on life support, access to your medical records, and whether you wish to avoid prolonged suffering or extend your life for as long as possible. You can also choose to spend your last days at home and provide for your final plans and wishes.

Power of Attorney documents are readily available and customized to your specific wishes. In the POA's I prepare, I include the insistence that your family has access to be with you in your hospital room or to see you electronically via Facetime, Zoom, or other digital means. This recent practice of allowing people to suffer alone and even die alone is unconscionable.

All your health care directives are included in your preferred Living Trust estate plan.

Docubank

Unfortunately, when we seek medical treatment we almost certainly do not have our Health Care POA with us. Today there is a service, Docubank, that will provide you with a wallet card that allows any medical provider to access your POA 24/7 365 anywhere in the world.

Docubank gives clients a 65% discount – only $25 a year for this card that also can include your emergency contact person, family members, and a medical snapshot.  Call our office and we will make sure you are given the discount.  

Living Trusts

At the end of your life, or at incapacitation, if you have property or bank accounts in your name, they risk Probate.

  • A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the Probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Firearms Transfer Rules Update

Firearms Transfer

Whether it is at your retirement or your death, an often overlooked issue can cause many problems. Whether you have two firearms or 20+, there is a process to transfer them to another person. I know you are fully aware of how someone did that a few months ago. However, like everything else, times have changed.

Firearms Transfer During Your Lifetime

During your lifetime, you may choose to acquire and later transfer any number of firearms. 

New FOID Rules        

On August 2, 2021, FOID rules changed. Many of the changes deal with record-keeping and identification procedures. However, as to firearm transfers, it is essential to know these rules:

Illinois State Police Firearms Transfer Rules

  • If a private party sells a firearm in Illinois to another private party, they must go to the Illinois State Police website and verify that the Buyer has a valid FOID card. Visit the ISP website, click on "Firearm," "Firearm Owner Identification (FOID Card)," and "FOID Person to Person Firearm Transfer."
  • Seller and Buyer must possess a valid FOID card.
  • Seller and Buyer must verify local firearm ordinance requirements.
  • Beginning January 1, 2024, the seller must initiate and complete an automated search of Illinois State Police criminal history record information files and those of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, including the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and of the files of the Department of Human Services relating to mental health and developmental disabilities to obtain any felony conviction or patient hospitalization information which would disqualify a person from obtaining or require revocation of a currently valid Firearm Owner's Identification Card. 
  • The Illinois State Police website will generate an "Approval Number." You must list the Approval Number on the paperwork generated by the Sale of the Firearm. 
  • Buyers must abide by the State of Illinois waiting period before taking possession of the firearm. The waiting period for a long gun is 24 hours and 72 hours for a handgun.
  • The seller must keep a record of such transfer for ten years from the date of transfer. The record must contain the date of the transfer, the description, serial number, or other information identifying the firearm if no serial number is available.
  • It is required to unload and enclose firearm in a case for transport.

Firearms Transfer Rules Exemptions

  • Persons buying a firearm from a Federal Firearms License (FFL) are not covered by this law, as the records are generated under federal law. 
  • Persons buying or selling a firearm to family members are exempt under the law. Family members are spouse, son, daughter, stepson, stepdaughter, father, mother, stepfather, stepmother, brother, sister, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, grandmother, grandson, granddaughter, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, and daughter-in-law.  However, to legally possess the firearm, the family member must still have a valid FOID card.

Firearms Transfers at Death

This issue of disposing of your firearms at your death is an issue I cannot share enough.  

Suppose you own a registered firearm at your death. In that case, the Executor of your estate, or preferably the Trustee of your Living Trust, is responsible for legally transferring the gun to your chosen beneficiaries. However, if you have no estate plan, the Probate process determines your surviving heirs at law.

So what do you do now? Above all, start your estate plan. However, as an essential part of that plan, determine the ownership of your firearms after your death. Your Trustee can distribute them to a licensed gun dealer. However, any chosen beneficiaries must have a valid FOID card in the state in which they reside.

If the beneficiary does not have a FOID card, the law provides a sixty (60) day grace period. Indeed, do not put your Trustee or beneficiary in that position. For instance, it will delay the distribution of your estate and be a burden on your beneficiary during an already difficult time. Moreover, during those 60 days, the statute does not provide an exemption for your Trustee who has possession of the firearms. As a result, the Trustee is now subject to an immediate FOID requirement.

Living Trusts and Firearms

At the end of your life, or incapacitation, along with your firearms, they risk probate if you have property or bank accounts in your name.

  • A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Have Your Beneficiaries Been Updated Lately?

<img src="clients.jpg" alt="Young couple with beneficiaries Tuohy Law Offices">
Family Planning

You may have heard the horror stories of officers who divorced and never changed their insurance policies, deferred comp beneficiaries, or estate plan, and the ex-spouse got it all. It is easy when hearing dramatic stories to assume you are safe. But are you?

There are various reasons why your listed beneficiaries might not fit your current intentions. It can also prove costly because of circumstances beyond your control.

Outdated Beneficiaries

It is very common to have beneficiary names listed on policies and accounts that are not current to your wishes. The chances are you have beneficiaries listed right now that include a person you no longer wish to receive the benefit or it excludes someone.

Here are some examples:

  • Previous marriages: That is an easy one. However, please know that when you die the beneficiary on any legal document will receive the proceeds of that policy, account, or estate plan. I have had those phone calls from surviving spouses who discovered the ex on policies after their spouse died.
  • Not listing all your children:  You took out the insurance policy years ago before having that second or third child. 
  • Intentionally listing only one child: You figure that child will take care of their siblings. That mistake is widespread. However, the child you list has legal ownership. What if the child's spouse has different ideas? Or before making distributions to siblings, the beneficiary child dies. All the funds are now part of that child's estate. The funds could end up in the beneficiary child's divorce, lawsuit or creditors claim. Then there are possible gift taxes when making distributions depending on the tax code at the time.
  • Countless clients were in one of those or other situations as we reviewed their assets and policies during their Living Trust signing. Fortunately, they were still around to fix it.

Minor Children Beneficiaries

Suppose you have listed a minor as a primary or successor beneficiary on a policy or account. Unfortunately, you die before the minor reaches 18 years of age. If so:

  • If you die before the minor reaches age 18, all of the proceeds will go to Probate. The assets stay under the court's control until the minor is 18. 
  • Secondly, not many people want their children to receive large sums of money at 18; when Probate will release it all. 18 may be the age of majority; however it is rarely the age of maturity.

One of my favorite truths is that the human brain does not fully form until age 25. Everything is there except the frontal cortex, which governs reason. And that explains a lot! That fact should also inform your decision about the final distribution age of all funds. A Living Trust best accomplishes a sensible distribution strategy.

A Trust protects the funds outside of Probate. The minor can receive distributions before age 18 for health, education, and welfare at the discretion of your chosen Trustee. You chose the final distribution age.

Beneficiary Financial Troubles

No matter what age you feel is appropriate for your beneficiaries to receive their inheritance, there is no way of knowing whether they are going through a divorce, bankruptcy, or lawsuit at the time of your death.

If you name your Living Trust as beneficiary, the Trust protects against all of those risks. A Trust's Spendthrift Provision prevents any creditor or spouse from claiming the gift of your estate.

Benficiary Disability Issues

Suppose one of your beneficiaries acquires a disability through accident or illness before your death. In that case, your estate funds will go to the government for reimbursement of public benefits. Or your beneficiary will lose their SSI or Medicaid benefits.

You can prevent this from happening with a Living Trust that has precautionary Supplemental Needs provisions.

Living Trusts

At the end of your life, or at incapacitation if you have property or bank accounts in your name, they risk Probate.

  • A Will must be Probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the probate process, which averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • Your financial accounts, life insurance policies, and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents. It also consists of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is necessary for guardianship of minor children. It also transfers assets in your name out of Probate.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Do You Have Umbrella Insurance?

Umbrella Insurance, the Most Important and Least Expensive Liability Insurance

The chances are you have the average vehicle policy coverage limits of liability - $100,000/$300,000.

Those figures represent the limits of your insurance protection for damages as a result of injuries you cause to others in an accident. However, if the damages exceed $100,000 per person or $300,000 per accident for all persons injured in the accident, you must pay the excess.

Umbrella Insurance Coverage

A standard umbrella policy covers all vehicles on your policy and your home for injuries caused to guests or visitors on your property. An umbrella policy also may cover libel or slander claims. For instance, posting a bad review or social media comment. You may also have coverage for malicious prosecution claims and overseas travels. Importantly, the policy limits begin at $1,000,000,00 and average only $230 per year.

Consequences of Inadequate Insurance Converage

A few years ago, someone I represented in my law practice neighbor's child tripped on a Play Station cord while visiting his home and struck her head on a table. Tragically, the child suffered brain damage. However, my client had only $100,000 liability coverage on his home. Consequently, nearly everything my client earned over 20 years on the job was lost.

Another client came to my office to discuss an accident. She was stopped at a stop sign in Park Ridge, Illinois, at dusk. This suburb has few street lights and short concrete posts for street signs. Moreover, while inching forward to see the street name, she did not notice an older woman who stepped off the curb simultaneously. As a result, my client bumped the woman who fell and struck her head on the sidewalk. The woman died that evening. My client had a 100/300 policy and approximately $600,000 in net worth. There was nothing we could do to protect her savings or the equity in her family home.

The Other Drivers

Consider the flip side of you not having adequate coverage - the thousands of uninsured or underinsured drivers you drive alongside every single day. You must protect yourself from damages another driver with too little or no insurance might cause to you or someone in your household.

Whether it is your home or vehicle, the time to ensure that you are adequately protected is now - before you drive again or invite a guest into your home.

Learn More

Contact CBA today for help finding the right Umbrella Insurance coverage.

Learn more about Umbrella Insurance by viewing this short video or reading this brief article.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

Are Your Assets Protected?

Asset protection is more important than ever before. Today, you have risks at every turn. Lawsuits, high cost of long-term care, auto and home accidents, or years of Probate. All too often, we settle and fail to consider the importance of comprehensive protection. In other cases, all we need is the best legal document to protect what we own. It is not worth rolling the dice and sacrificing your savings or your hard-earned assets. And it is next to impossible to keep up with what you need for protection. Many changes you need come without warning.

Homestead Real Estate

Suppose you are married and currently working as the police. In that case, your principal place of residence should be titled in Tenants by Entirety. This form of legal title protects your marital property from the creditors of one spouse.

Firearms

With the growing availability of concealed carry laws, more citizens are choosing to carry firearms and to keep them accessible for defense in their homes.

However, even for justifiable acts of self-defense, a claim for monetary damages can be made against you by your assailant or innocent bystanders. You can also be held liable for gun-related incidents while hunting, in gun clubs, or while shooting at commercial or private ranges.

Check out the Benefits Plan website for more information.

Asset Protection with Automobile Insurance

The most common auto policy written today is the same as it was 25 years ago – $100,000/$300,000.  It means you have $100,000 in individual protection for damages caused by you or a covered driver on your policy. Similarly, you have $300,000 total coverage for all injured parties. 

Consequently, you are personally responsible for damages that exceed these amounts. Even a minor accident can result in hospitalization, extended medical care, or death. However, Umbrella Insurance only costs an average of $250 per year. The policy provides an additional $1 million in liability protection for each covered vehicle and your residence.

Investment Real Estate

If you own commercial property, your renters can sue you for various reasons. For example, claims made for injuries resulting from property defects inside and outside of the residence. First, be sure you have the right coverage and are not overpaying. Secondly, eliminate any personal liability concern for excess claims by holding title to any investment property in either a Corporation or an LLC.  Moreover, a Series LLC allows you to separate liabilities from each property if you own more than one investment property.

Long Term Health Care

Will you need it?  For those who live longer than age 65, 70% will need some long-term health care. To clarify, only 40% of people will require inpatient nursing care. However, all long-term health care is expensive. Fortunately, there is a hybrid insurance policy that is offered exclusively to Benefits Plan members. This policy provides long-term care insurance and, if not accessed, it can be converted to life insurance at your death.

Living Trusts and Asset Protection

At the end of your life, or if you become incapacitated, property or bank accounts in your name, are at risk of Probate.

  • A Will must be probated. The rule is no one can legally sign your name. Therefore, all assets in your name are subject to the complete probate process at your death or incapacity. This court process averages 18 months and is costly.
  • A Living Trust completely avoids Probate.
  • A Living Trust estate plan includes both Health Care and Financial Power of Attorney documents and a Last Will and Testament for guardianship of minor children and to “pour over”  any assets still in your name at your death, out of Probate.

A Revocable Living Trust is a written, legal document that allows you to privately pass your assets to your family, friends, or charities after your death. Assets in a properly funded Trust are not subject to Probate. These include real estate, bank accounts, stocks, and minor beneficiary policies and accounts. Your life insurance policies and deferred compensation accounts can name your Living Trust as beneficiary, subject to essential tax considerations. However, often it is recommended that adult beneficiaries, without legal or other restrictions, be named as beneficiaries.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

RS provides cafeteria plan relief for the pandemic

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Congress enacted temporary special rules for health flexible spending arrangements (FSAs) and dependent care assistance programs under Sec. 125 cafeteria plans.

The new rules were put in place as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CCA), P.L. 116-260, enacted in December 2020. The IRS has now provided these plans with more discretion in 2021 and 2022 to make adjustments to help employees meet the unanticipated consequences of the public health emergency (Notice 2021-15). The IRS anticipates that, because of the pandemic, employees are more likely to have unused health FSA amounts or dependent care assistance program amounts at the end of 2020 and 2021.

The changes enacted in the CCA allow flexibility for carryovers of unused amounts from the 2020 and 2021 plan years; extend the permissible grace period for plan years ending in 2020 and 2021; provide a special rule regarding post-termination reimbursements from health FSAs; provide a special carryover rule for dependent care assistance programs when a dependent ages out during the pandemic; and allow certain midyear election changes for health FSAs and dependent care assistance programs for plan years ending in 2021.

Notice 2021-15 permits employees who are eligible to make salary reduction contributions under a cafeteria plan to make a new election prospectively if the employee initially declined to elect employer-sponsored health coverage; revoke an existing election and make a new election to enroll in different health coverage sponsored by the same employer prospectively; and revoke an existing election prospectively, as long as the employee attests in writing that he or she is enrolled, or immediately will enroll, in other health coverage not sponsored by the employer.

The notice also provides relief for the effective date of amendments to Sec. 125 cafeteria plans to implement the expansion under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, P.L. 116-136, which allowed expenses for health FSAs and health reimbursement arrangements to include over-the-counter drugs without prescriptions and menstrual care products. The rules allow those expenses to be reimbursed for any period beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2020, without disqualifying the plans.

— Sally P. Schreiber, J.D., (Sally.Schreiber@aicpa-cima.com) is a JofA senior editor.

Comprehensive Benefits of America

For an expanded presentation of asset protection and financial wellness strategies and to receive regular updates on strategies to protect what you have earned, visit and register with CBAPlan on the link below. Registration is free.

Visit www.cbaplan.com or call 1-312-559-8444 for assistance with registering.

Tom Tuohy is the founder and CEO of Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC, and Tuohy Law Offices.

The information being provided is strictly as a courtesy. When you link to any of these websites provided herein, Comprehensive Benefits of America, LLC/ makes no representation of the completeness or accuracy of information provided at these sites. CBA does not provide professional financial, investment, tax, or legal advice. You should seek certified financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys for advice relative to your personal needs. See complete Disclosures and the CBA Security and Privacy policies.

Financial Planning: 10 Opportunities for 2021

How can you optimize your financial plans for 2021? Financial experts think these 10 ideas have potential for success—if you get started soon.


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Have you set specific financial, investment, estate and philanthropic goals for 2021 and beyond? If not, these ideas can get you started. If so, fantastic—these 10 opportunities can enhance your plans.

1. Rebalance Your Portfolio

A volatile 2020 that favored specific industries over others, along with the potential buildup of cash at year-end from investments, means portfolios are likely in need of review. Now is a good time to compare current portfolio exposure to strategic targets and determine if changes are warranted. Be attentive not just to bond and stock mix, but also to underlying asset classes (for example, growth versus value).

2. Evaluate Your Cash Management Strategy

With yields close to zero (and likely to remain at that level for the foreseeable future), it’s important to maintain a prudent cash-management strategy. Evaluate balances relative to short- and intermediate-term needs to determine appropriate levels. Ensure cash balances respect FDIC/NCUA limits, and seek alternatives where warranted to provide protections.

3. Consider RMD/QCD Planning

Required minimum distributions (RMDs) are back after the CARES Act waived them last year. Evaluate the role RMDs will play in cash flow and tax planning. Consider the use of year-end RMD withholding as a replacement for quarterly estimates if RMD will be in excess of required tax payments. Remember that qualified charitable distributions (QCDs) remain a viable option for the charitably inclined to partially or fully offset RMDs. For those considering QCDs, it may be wise to wait for clarity on tax policy and the resulting impact on itemized deductions.

4. Review Insurance Policies

With record-low yields, dividend crediting rates on whole life policies may be negatively impacted. Without proper management, this trend could place certain policies at risk of lapse over time. Reviewing your policies now and developing a plan to protect your coverage allows time to make appropriate changes. It’s important to assess whether the current structure remains appropriate for your situation as well.

5. Develop Your Family Education Plan

Now is a great time to refocus on your family’s financial future. Developing a proper plan to bring the next generations into the fold isn’t only a good complement to sound financial planning, but actually critical to its execution. Developing the next generation to operate as sound stewards of your legacy is a high-impact activity that magnifies the benefits of prudent wealth planning.RELATEDReputation Management: Why Is It Important for Financial Services?

6. Use Low Rates to Your Advantage for Wealth Transfer

This environment is still extremely conducive for intrafamily wealth transfer. Utilizing notes between families or entities, selling assets to grantor trusts, or using grantor-retained annuity trusts (GRATs) all remain attractive strategies. For existing debt in place, consider refinancing given the current low interest rate environment.

7. Consider Freezing GRATs

After strong performance since the March 2020 lows, many GRATs hold significant appreciation. Consider the merits of locking in that appreciation via asset substitution with lower-risk, less volatile assets. New GRATs can be restarted to continue transferring upside if the markets cooperate, while the frozen GRATs can preserve value for intended beneficiaries.

8. Review Your Estate Plan

2020 highlighted the importance of planning for the unexpected, and that lesson extends to your estate plan. Review the key tenets of your plan and confirm that they still align with your wishes. This includes trustees, personal representatives, financial and health care powers of attorney, guardians, distribution provisions, among others.RELATEDWhy Financial Literacy Will Unite Americans

9. Don’t Forget the Estate Planning “Freebies”

While this remains a favorable environment for advanced wealth transfer strategies, keep in mind the simpler options. The annual exclusion gift limit remains at $15,000 per person. You have the ability to pay for medical expenses, with no limit, as long as you pay the medical provider directly. And you can still pay for education expenses, also with no limit, and again, as long as you issue payment to the institution, not the individual.

10. Plan for Philanthropic Giving

Donor-advised funds and family foundation balances have swelled in recent years, due to both accelerated gifting for tax purposes and market performance. This is a great time to take a step back and develop or confirm your strategic plan for the funds available for grants moving forward.

As with many financial topics, these planning concepts shouldn’t be viewed in a silo. Your advisory team can work with you to tie those pertinent to you to your broader plan. Feel free to contact your financial advisor to discuss further.

Jim Baird, David Stahl, Dawn Jinsky, Mike Lopus Published on February 16, 2021

Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments include risk and have the potential for loss as well as gain.
Data sources for peer group comparisons, returns, and standard statistical data are provided by the sources referenced and are based on data obtained from recognized statistical services or other sources believed to be reliable. However, some or all information has not been verified prior to the analysis, and we do not make any representations as to its accuracy or completeness. Benchmarks or indices are included for information purposes only to reflect the current market environment; no index is a directly tradable investment.
CBA publishes this update to convey general information about market conditions and not for the purpose of providing investment advice. Any analysis non-factual in nature constitutes only current opinions, which are subject to change at any time. Investment in any of the companies or sectors mentioned herein may not be appropriate for you. You should consult a representative from CBA for referal to a Certified Financial Planner for investment advice regarding your own situation.
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