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    We work hard for our trucking clients. Like the TV commercial says, “It’s what we do!” We get a genuine sense of satisfaction in helping our clients improve their financial situations.

    In our 30-plus years of practice, we’ve been privileged to help trucking professionals all over the country to save boatloads of money both in income and estate taxes, and also reach amazingly favorable resolutions to horribly-severe IRS problems.

    We do a great deal of work in the areas of estate planning, as well as estate administration (after a death has occurred).

    Even in families where the total assets are below $100,000, there can be chaos if prudent planning is not utilized or poor choices made.
    You see, even the most well-crafted estate plan can be ruined by a poor choice of executor or advisor. We mentioned a recent case last week where we were able to save a client over $73,000 for one year, due to incorrect guidance given to this client by a previous adviser.

    Of course, that said, we can always do our best to help our clients and their families deal with it and navigate through this poor choice, once it becomes apparent -- but it's always better if the choice is made well.

    So, this week, I have some words about this, as you consider your current executor, and whether they fit the profile...

    Your executor is what is known as a "fiduciary" which means he or she must be someone who must act in good faith when handling your affairs. He or she cannot take advantage of his or her position or unfairly profit from financial transactions from your estate. The executor will meet the standard of a fiduciary duty if he or she does a competent, honest job.

    You want your fiduciary to be both trustworthy and capable of handling the tasks. You will want to have complete faith in him or her. Make sure he or she understands the responsibility of the job and is willing to accept it. This requires a discussion before you make your Will.

    It may sound a bit strange, but name someone who is healthy and likely to be around after your death. To be secure, you should definitely select at least one successor executor to serve if your first choice is unable or unwilling to do so when the time comes.

    For many people, the choice is obvious -- their spouse. Others select a close friend, a grown child or other close relative. If no obvious person comes to mind, make a list of your possible selections and use common sense (and this article as your guide) to make the wisest choice.

    Remember, as I wrote last week ...

    An executor must:

    * Obtain certified copies of your death certificate
    * Locate Will beneficiaries
    * Examine and inventory your safe deposit boxes
    * Collect your mail
    * Cancel credit cards and subscriptions
    * Notify the SSA and other benefit plan administrators of your death
    * Learn about your property, which may involve examining bank statements, deeds, insurance policies, tax returns and other records
    * Get bank accounts covered by the Will released
    * Place notices in newspapers so creditors can make claims
    * Hire a probate attorney

    Either the executor or the probate attorney must:

    * File court papers to start the probate process and obtain legal authority to act as your executor
    * Manage your assets during the probate process, which usually takes six months to a year
    * Handle court-supervised probate matters, including transfer of property to your beneficiaries and making sure your final debts and taxes are paid
    * Have final income tax forms prepared, and, if necessary, have estate tax returns for your estate prepared and filed

    So the choice is important.

    But lastly, as you make these decisions, consider telling your family exactly what you plan.

    This gives you the chance to head off any possible disagreements among your family about how things "should" be handled. If you happen to die or lose capacity, it's usually too late.

    Eliminate surprises and minimize family squabbles.

    Perhaps the LAST thing to say is: make sure you have competent help by your side, in ALL things financial (especially when it comes to your existing finances and tax strategy).

    And that, of course, is what we're here for.

    Dennis Bridges | 06/22/2015