This page offers helpful tips on planning your estate and smart ways to incorporate a gift to us in your plan.
Why do you need a will? Because it allows you to:
- Direct the division of your property the way you choose – not the way your state decides.
- Make special financial arrangements for your family members who are minors, disabled or unfamiliar with money management.
- Name a guardian for your minor children.
- Select an executor (personal representative) who is well-qualified to settle your estate promptly and economically, with careful attention to your wishes.
- Provide vital support for your favorite charitable institutions.
- Devise an estate plan, with the help of a qualified attorney and other advisors, to minimize the taxes on your estate.
- Just a few sentences in your will are all that is needed. Share the sample bequest language for the Heinlein Socity with your estate planning attorney: “I, [name], of [city, state, zip] give, devise and bequeath to the Heinlein Society, 3553 Atlantic Avenue, #341, Long Beach, CA 90807-5606, [written amount or percentage of estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose.”
More Information: What Your Will Can’t Do
Your will does not control these assets:
- IRAs, 401(k), and other retirement plan assets. With each account, you will need to name a beneficiary to receive the benefits of your plan.
- Life insurance policies. You will need to name beneficiaries of your life insurance policies to receive the death benefits after your lifetime.
- Any assets you own jointly with rights of survivorship. If you are the first of two joint owners to die, your part will automatically pass to the surviving joint owner. Note, however, that your share of assets held as tenants in common will flow through to your beneficiaries.
It doesn’t have to be all or nothing
You can name us as a contingent beneficiary of your retirement plan assets or life insurance policies. That way we benefit only if your primary beneficiary is no longer living.
Contact your estate planning attorney to learn more about making your plans the best they can be. If you would like to include us in your will or other estate plans, we can help.
Four Steps to Your First Will
1. Begin with the Basics – Start by getting organized: Outline your objectives, determine the value of your property, inventory your major assets, estimate outstanding debts, and prepare a list of family members and other beneficiaries to whom you want to pass assets. You’ll also want to ask yourself these two questions:
- How do I want to divide my assets among my family members, other loved ones and favorite causes?
- Do I need to make any special provisions for any of my heirs?
2. Choose Guardians – If you have minor children or an adult child, a parent or spouse with special needs who is your dependent, you must think about who will care for them when you’re gone. Talk to your proposed guardian ahead of time about what you are asking, and understand that if you don’t name a guardian, the courts may end up doing it for you.
3. Choose an Executor – If you don’t have a will, or if your will doesn’t name an executor, the courts will appoint one. Your executor undertakes many important responsibilities, including:
- Notifying all interested parties and agencies of your death.
- Paying creditors and outstanding taxes.
- Distributing your assets according to your will.
4. Meet with an Estate Planning Attorney – To avoid trouble for your heirs, seek the counsel of an estate planning attorney to help record your wishes in a legally sound will. When drafting your will, you may spend a few hundred dollars or several times that amount depending on where you live. Whatever the going rate in your area, resist the “deal.” Instead, select a qualified estate planning attorney who can help you save your estate money and eliminate heartache in the long run.
After your family is taken care of, you can extend your support by planning a gift that makes a lasting impact on our work. We hope you’ll consider including a gift called a charitable bequest to the Heinlein Society in your will or living trust. To make a charitable bequest, you need a current will or revocable living trust. Your gift can be made as a percentage of your estate or you can make a specific bequest by giving a certain amount of cash, securities, or property. After your lifetime, the Heinlein Society receives your gift. A charitable bequest offers these main benefits:
Simplicity. Just a few sentences in your will or trust are all that is needed. Share the sample bequest language for the Heinlein Society with your estate planning attorney: “I, [name], of [city, state, zip] give, devise and bequeath to the Heinlein Society, 3553 Atlantic Avenue, #341, Long Beach, CA 90807-5606 [written amount or percentage of estate or description of property] for its unrestricted use and purpose.”
Flexibility. Because you are not actually making a gift until after your lifetime, you can change your mind at any time.
Versatility. You can structure the bequest to leave a specific item or amount of money, make the gift contingent on certain events, or leave a percentage of your estate to us.
Tax Relief. If your estate is subject to estate tax, your gift is entitled to an estate tax charitable deduction for the gift’s full value.
More Information: When to Update Your Will
Here are some circumstances that make it vital to update your will:
- You want to name a different executor, trustee or guardian.
- Your assets have significantly increased or decreased in value.
- You’ve moved to another state.
- Your situation or a beneficiary’s situation has changed. Has your family changed because of marriage, divorce, birth, adoption or death?
- You want to include a gift to us in your will. Consider leaving us a percentage of your estate or the balance remaining after bequests are distributed to your loved ones.
- The estate tax laws have changed. Check with your estate planning attorney to make sure your estate plan is up-to-date with any federal estate tax law changes.
When changes occur in your life, remember to update your estate plans for assets not controlled by your will. For example, you may need to change beneficiary designations on your retirement plan assets or life insurance policies.
More Information: How to Update Your Will
1. Get a copy of your current will.
2. Mark the areas you’d like to change
3. Meet with your estate planning attorney to draft and prepare your new document.
4. Consider discussing changes with us if they may affect the Heinlein Society.
Contact your estate planning attorney if you have additional questions on updating your will.
More Information: An Easy 3-Step Approach to Selecting an Estate Planning Attorney
1. Collect Names – Here are some common resources to help you identify estate planning attorneys in your area:
- References from friends, relatives and co-workers
- The American Bar Association’s Internet lawyer referral service, www.findlegalhelp.org (search for attorneys in your area and research firms or individual attorneys to identify which ones specialize in trusts and estates or wills and probate.)
- Referrals from a local bar association or estate planning council
Quick Tip: No one can help you minimize taxes and protect your assets like a qualified estate planning attorney can.
2. Acquire Information – Once you’ve completed a list of possible contenders, research them to determine the following information:
- Experience and references
- How fees are charged, along with an estimate of costs
- Professional accomplishments
- The number of principals working in the office
- Office hours
- Areas of specialty
- Percentage of work devoted to estate planning
- Alliances with professionals in related fields that may be of help
3. Make Your Choice – It’s important to choose someone you trust and respect. We recommend that you consult with an attorney who will work well with your unique situation.