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Estate planning and how to avoid probate

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probate and wills

In a recent blog post, we discussed what might happen if you pass away without a will and what might happen with a will. When you pass away owning property in your sole name (regardless of if you have a will or not), your assets might need to go through probate in order for your heirs to inherit your property. Having a will does not avoid probate—it just determines who will receive your property. If you die owning property in your sole name without a will, your estate still passes through probate—but who receives your property will typically be determined under the laws of the state where your primary residence is at your date of death (the “intestacy laws”).

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Probate is a court process to provide for an organized way of winding up a deceased person’s affairs. During this process, a personal representative or executor is appointed by the Probate Court to supervise the collection of your probate assets, payment of your final bills and taxes, and distribution of your assets according to either your will or the intestacy laws. This may or may not be what you intend and might be more expensive than if you made other plans in advance.

Avoiding Probate

There are ways to distribute your property at your death according to your wishes without going through probate. While the techniques might vary from state to state, these typically include:

  • titling property jointly with another (“joint tenants with rights of survivorship”)
  • creating a beneficiary deed for real estate
  • adding a “transfer on death” or “pay on death” designation to assets, such as bank or investment accounts, or by beneficiary designation for assets such as your retirement plan, IRA or life insurance
  • creating a “revocable” or “living” trust and retitling your assets in the name of your trust

The trustee holds the legal title to the property owned in the revocable trust, not you as owner. The trust property is held by the trustee for your benefit during your lifetime.  You can choose to serve as your own trustee as long as you are able. At your death, the property held in the trust is distributed by the successor trustee of the trust to those family members, friends or charities you name in your trust agreement, similar to the instructions you can leave in your will.

A Living Trust

There are many advantages to creating a living trust:

  • Control: You can be your own trustee during your lifetime and then you name a successor trustee (such as a bank) to serve after you cannot or do not wish to serve.
  • Flexibility: You can typically change the terms of the trust at any time while you are living. If you become disabled, your successor trustee can step in and pay your bills, manage your investments and allow you to avoid “living probate” where otherwise a court appointed conservator might be needed to manage your affairs. You can create trusts for your minor children or grandchildren to be created after your death, hold assets in further trust for disabled or disadvantaged beneficiaries and even create trusts for charities.
  • Privacy: The terms of the trust and its assets and values are typically private, unlike a probate proceeding, which is a public matter where your will (if any) and list of assets are filed with the court and open to inspection by anyone.

Your living trust would be part of your overall estate plan, which would likely include a “pour over will” (just in case assets weren’t retitled into your trust’s name at your death), powers of attorney for financial and healthcare decisions and a living will.

 

Be sure to consult with an experienced estate planning attorney to discuss what estate plan is right for you under the circumstances.  We also recommend discussing your options with a wealth advisor who can assist you with your financial goals, working together with your attorney and other trusted advisors.

 

 

UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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UMB Insights: Fine Art Services

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Are you an art collector? Or do you have one piece in your home you take great pride in? Find out from the managing director of UMB Fine Art Services how this company focus began more than 100 years ago with our CEO’s great grandmother, Charlotte Kemper, and her passion for culture and art. Jan also offers advice on how to protect and utilize your art and collectibles.

Read more about the art of fine art management.

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Jan Leonard is senior vice president and managing director for charitable trusts, private foundations and fine art services. She joined UMB in 2003 and has more than 25 years of experience in the management of private and public organizations. Leonard earned a bachelor’s degree from Arkansas Tech University and a master’s degree in business administration from Ottawa University in Ottawa, Kan. She is also a graduate of the Cannon School of Foundation Management.



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UMB Insights: Selling your business

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Thinking about selling your business? A lot of business owners don’t realize what useful partners wealth advisors can be. Here are some things to keep in mind as you make these important decisions.

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Mr. Trujillo is a Senior Portfolio Manager for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for portfolio construction and management for high net worth clients. He joined UMB in 2007 and has 19 years of experience in the financial services industry. Mr. Trujillo is a CFP® professional.



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UMB: Inspiration – Private Wealth Management

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UMB prides itself on being a financial institution with a heartbeat. We are passionate about what we do and want to share what inspires us.

Dana’s father inspired her to be a leader, her small business owner mother influenced her commercial banking roots and several mentors helped to shape her career. Hear more about what inspires the leader of our Private Wealth Management department.

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Dana Abraham is president of the Private Wealth Management Division and is responsible for the delivery of comprehensive financial services to high-net-worth clients. Her areas of focus include Wealth Planning, Private Banking, Personal Trust, Investment Management and Insurance. She joined UMB in 2005 and has more than 20 years of experience in the financial services industry. Abraham earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in both accounting and economics from the University of Louisiana. She is a graduate of Leadership Overland Park and Kansas City Tomorrow Leadership programs.



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Benefits of a will

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A will allows you to protect and distribute your property owned by you at your death* through a written legal document. By detailing who should inherit what, you try to ensure that your possessions are distributed by your wishes, rather than state laws.  Remember, having a will does not mean that your estate will avoid probate.
Benefits of Having a Will

*Your will only affects property owned by you at your death titled in your sole name. It typically does not affect property which is owned as joint tenants with rights of survivorship, which passes by beneficiary deed or designation, including “Pay on Death” or “Transfer on Death,” or which is owned by a trust.

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UMB is not providing you with any legal or tax advice.  You need to consult with your own legal and tax advisors to determine what estate plan is best for you and how the laws of the state governing your estate might affect you given your specific circumstances.

 

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Teson is a Senior Vice President and Private Wealth Management’s Senior Legal Counsel at UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing Private Wealth Management’s Legal, Fiduciary Tax and Real Estate and Unique Asset teams. She joined UMB in 1992 and has been a licensed attorney for 32 years. She is also a Certified Financial Planner.



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How to pay for your children’s college free of stress and debt

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College tuition is rising steadily. The price of a four-year public university has risen 2.3 percent (1.6 percent for private college), and that is on top of inflation, according to the College Board. Those increases reflect the average of the last 20 years and include tuition, fees, room and board.

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Sound intimidating? Good news, these numbers don’t have to be daunting for parents. Having a plan to properly fund these goals is half the battle, and definitely decreases anxiety. Here are some tips as you begin savings for your child’s higher education:

  1. Know the numbers – If only we had a crystal ball to predict exactly what tuition will cost when your child gets to college. We do, however, have tools that can forecast costs and assist in planning. Talk with your financial advisor—he or she will be able to help you estimate and plan for these expenses.
  1. Determine how much to fund – Once you have an expected figure, talk about how much you want to fund. There are differing viewpoints on what percentage parents and children should each contribute to education through scholarships, loans and tuition payments, so discuss this with your family and then set goals based on what everyone feels is appropriate.
  1. Establish investing timetable – The next step is to put your financial goal in writing and begin weighing options on how to achieve the desired savings. Designating monthly or annual contributions to your preferred education savings vehicles is a great way to start. However, you should feel comfortable adjusting these over time on an as-needed basis. Don’t become discouraged if projected savings do not align exactly with the end goal. The most important thing is to consistently save something to ensure the funds continue to grow.
  1. Evaluate options – There are a variety of college savings vehicles available, including 529 Plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts. Your financial advisor can make recommendations that are in line with your strategic plan.
  1. Communicate the strategy – When the time is right, start the conversation with your children about their educational paths. Talk about the financial support you plan to provide, and where you expect them to share responsibility. This will help your children begin establishing their own goals and promote accountability for educational expenses as well.

Saving for your children’s college expenses can seem like an overwhelming task, but it is much easier to manage with the right planning and support. Consider these tips and talk with your advisor—those college enrollment packages will arrive before you know it!

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When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.

 


Ms. Stokes is a senior vice president and director of Private Banking at UMB. She is responsible for driving sales and relationship management activities. She works closely with the Wealth Management leadership team and regional presidents to grow business and helps to develop roles in wealth management, relationship management and presentation skills. She joined UMB in 2009 and has more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Missouri- Kansas City and a Bachelor of Arts from the graduate school of retail banking.



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Pairing your passion with your giving

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Did you know you can use a wealth advisor for more than simply financial and estate planning? Whether it’s your business or your family’s philanthropy, a wealth advisor can match you with the organizations you want to work with and even set up meetings with the board of directors for you if desired.

The “why” behind giving is the most vital. When we match an organization’s mission with a person’s passion, there’s power in that.

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Ms. Barnas joined UMB in 2007. As Senior Vice President Regional Manager, she is responsible for the growth and support of new customer relationships as well as supervision of regional sales associates. She is also responsible for oversight and delivery of the financial planning discipline within the region. Ms. Barnas has 28 years of experience in the financial industry. Prior to joining UMB, she served in retail and collections management at Bank of America and Banc of America Investment Services, Inc. and premier client manager within the Global Wealth and Investment Management division. Ms. Barnas studied business and communications at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo. She serves on the Child Advocacy Center Board and the Director’s Council for the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, and she was the Charter President of the Summit Optimist Club in Springfield, Missouri.



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How saving money differs in your 40s, 50s and 60s

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We already told you how your financial goals and habits vary from decade to decade in your 20s and 30s. The same is true as you move into your 40s and up until retirement. Here are some pro tips on how to take full advantage of each unique decade.

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Things to DO in your 40s

Do meet with a financial planner to make sure you’re on the right track to retire when you want and with the right amount to continue living the lifestyle you want. Retirement may seem very far away, but you don’t want to let yourself be caught in your early 60s playing catch-up on your 401(k).

Do decide how saving for major purchases balances with your retirement saving. If you have children, are you going to pay for all or some of their college tuition? What about your children’s weddings? These are examples of things that can cause parents to be caught off guard and can put a pause on your important retirement saving. For more information on these decisions, take a look at our recent post on Kids’ college vs. retirement: where to save?

And one thing to AVOID in your 40s

Don’t miss out on the maximum match from your employer on your retirement plan. As we’ve recommended from your first job in your 20s, be sure to take full advantage of the match from your employer. Of course, going above that amount is also a great idea; just be sure you’re reaching that minimum amount to get your full match.

 

Things to DO in your 50s 

Do think of this decade as your time to save the most (less expenses with children out of the home and typically higher income than you earned earlier in your career). Consider paying off high-cost debt, such as your mortgage, if you haven’t already and then save aggressively.

Do add catch-up contributions to your retirement savings. Even if you’re tracking well toward your retirement goals, you’re allowed to save more now, so do it!

And one thing to AVOID in your 50s

Don’t wait until your 60s to purchase long-term care insurance. The average age to buy this type of insurance is 57. If you wait until a few years later, it will be much more expensive.


Things to DO in your 60s
 

Do prepare aggressively for retirement…even before your planned last day of work. It’s difficult to predict when health, layoffs or extra time needed to care for your aging parents will cause you to retire earlier. This is the case with more than 40 percent of workers.

Do think about downsizing. This isn’t something that needs to wait until you’re already retired. If you’re single or if it’s just you and your spouse in your home, consider where you want to live for the next few decades and if moving makes sense.

And one thing to AVOID in your 60s

Don’t keep the same insurance policies you had in your 30s. You might not need life insurance anymore. Check your long-term care insurance policy to see what benefits it includes.

Remember, whether you’re 21 or 68, it’s never too late to improve your financial plan.

 

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References: *2012 National Association of REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers

Inspired by a Daily Finance article

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Ms. Ponce is a Financial Center Manager for UMB Bank. She is responsible for managing the Collinsville micro-market. She joined UMB in 1991 and has 23 years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Kids’ college vs. retirement: where to save?

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In a perfect world, you could save for your retirement AND your children’s higher education. But what if it comes down to a choice between the two…which one should be the priority? Loving parents may not love our answer.

Of course, launching your college-graduated children into the world debt-free is an admirable goal and the topic of an upcoming blog post. However, doing so at the expense of your own retirement goals is not advisable.

Parents are starting to move their focus more toward retirement savings and less toward their children’s education costs, according to a report from Fidelity Investments. The survey reported among long-term savers, 55 percent are saving for retirement while 33 percent are saving for their children’s college tuition. That split was closer to equal last year, but many parents are realizing that their children have several options to help pay for college—loans, scholarships and grants—options that simply don’t exist when saving for retirement.
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How to save for retirement

You may not realize that savings anxiety exists at several different income levels. The lack of retirement preparation in the $20,000 to $30,000 income range (with nearly nine out of 10 individuals reporting they were not prepared) was surprisingly close to those making $100,000 to $150,000 (with nearly eight out of 10 giving similar answers).*

So how do you take charge of your financial future? If you’re in your 20s or 30s, you have more time to ensure a comfortable retirement. Just make sure you start right away. If you’re older than 40, we have a blog post next month that will offer specific advice for saving in your 40s, 50s and 60s. Regardless of your income, the best way to start is by taking the simple advice: determine what you can put away starting right now and do it. The sacrifice now will be worth it later.

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*Source: American Consumer Credit Counseling survey

When you click links marked with the “‡” symbol, you will leave UMB’s website and go to websites that are not controlled by or affiliated with UMB. We have provided these links for your convenience. However, we do not endorse or guarantee any products or services you may view on other sites. Other websites may not follow the same privacy policies and security procedures that UMB does, so please review their policies and procedures carefully.


Mr. Bryan Joiner is a Financial Center Manager for UMB Bank, N.A in St. Charles, Missouri. He is responsible for managing a team that advises consumer and small business clients on financial decisions, such as how to lower debt and save more. He joined UMB in 2011 and has three years of experience in the financial services industry.



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Talk is not cheap when it comes to family money

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The most important concept to understand when transferring wealth is the communication plan. It may be difficult, but here’s why you need to focus on it.

Click “continue reading” for more a more in-depth look at this topic.

 

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How to broach the subject of transferring wealth to your children and grandchildren

Money used to be a taboo topic—one your great-grandparents and grandparents would never consider discussing with the next generation. However, times have changed—and so has the thought on these conversations. People want to talk about it while they’re still able to, and there are many benefits to that.

Why the big shift? New wealth, complicated investing vehicles and legacy desires are a few reasons. Many people have seen the challenges that come with unexplained inheritance parameters and instructions. However, discussing your strategies with beneficiaries ahead of time can eliminate confusion, frustration and hurt feelings.

With money comes responsibility and expectations

Educating your beneficiaries on the responsibilities that come with inheriting wealth is important, particularly if you would like your wealth to live beyond the next generation. As you formulate strategies to leave your hard-earned assets to loved ones, you may wish to structure a plan that provides financial security for not only your immediate heirs, but theirs as well.

Start the conversation early

Your children need to be old enough to understand the information, but you can begin talking with them about areas like philanthropy as early as grade school. For example, if your family makes an annual donation, you can involve your children in choosing recipients. Discuss causes that are important to them. Maybe they love pets or want to help give other kids presents for the holidays. Talk about it and let them help pick who you support.

As your children enter the high school years, you can work with your financial advisor to help introduce fundamentals like budgeting and personal cash flow management. Then during their early to mid-20s, you can begin conversations about your estate plan.

Share the strategy

Wealth advisors, or financial planners, generally start the conversation with the older generation about how to share their estate planning details. This is one of the most significant services these advisors provide, because they assist in explaining the estate plan structure, and many times will facilitate the conversation about the strategy.

Inheritors have a lot of questions when discussing their trusts and the strategy behind them, sometimes misunderstanding the intent.  Wealth advisors are neutral parties who explain that securing assets until a certain age is a strategic step. Whether it’s done to ensure measured wealth disbursement or to enable the inheritor to mature before accessing funds, these decisions are made from a comprehensive planning standpoint.

Intergenerational wealth transfer is an extremely complicated process—it can be complicated to execute and emotions are always a factor. Talk with your wealth advisor—they can proactively counsel and assist in both building your strategy and communicating amongst generations. Having these conversations can be the difference in you leaving a gift and establishing a legacy.


Mr. Clyne is a Vice President, Wealth Advisor for UMB Private Wealth Management. He is responsible for delivering customized financial planning with an emphasis on the areas of risk management, investment and wealth transfer. He joined UMB in 2011 and has 11 years of experience in the financial services industry. He serves on St. Louis University Finance Department Advisory Board and Volunteer Lawyers and Accountants for the Arts.



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