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The Basics of Creating a Life Plan

by Claudette W. Patton, J.D.

Stock Yards Bank Wealth Management & Trust


Preparing a Life Plan is all about living and making good choices about your legacy. Most people avoid planning because they think it’s morbid to think about death, but a Life Plan – estate planning – isn’t about dying at all. It’s simply providing direction for your legacy and determining how you want to be remembered by your community, family, charities, and personal causes. It is a chronicle of your life’s work with a plan to continue the fruits of your work for the benefit of others.

The most important question remains: “Do you want to control your personal life legacy?” A well written and thought out Life Plan keeps you in control of your life even after you’re gone. The list of those who do not plan is replete with examples of unintended ex- spouses, estranged siblings, children with addictions, and others being granted inheritances by state intestacy law (lawyer lingo for “without a will”). A recent example of a man who did not control his legacy is the music legend, Prince. According to court documents filed in a Minnesota probate court, Prince Roger Nelson left no instructions to divide his belongings. As a result, state law could divide his vast estate equally among 8 siblings. It is reported Prince has one surviving full sister, five surviving half siblings, and two deceased half siblings (with surviving children). Some of these heirs had not spoken with Prince in over twenty years. However, Minnesota state law does not distinguish between full and half siblings, plus any personal relationship to Prince is irrelevant. Would Prince have approved of this distribution? Would you?

The following is a Life Plan “Control Checklist” to assist in protecting and directing your legacy:

Control Who Inherits Your Legacy and Designate The Amount For Each Heir

Many people assume everything in an estate automatically goes to the spouse. Please be aware not every state law automatically passes the entire estate to a spouse! I repeat. A spouse may not automatically inherit everything without a Will. Some states only allow a spouse 1/3 of an estate due to parental inheritance distribution laws. According to Kentucky intestacy law, a spouse may be fourth in the line of distribution. Also, state laws typically divide assets equally to the state designated heirs without consideration of a spendthrift relative, or someone with special medical needs. Children born out of wedlock may not be recognized in some states. Charitable giving may not occur. Additionally, if no living descendants are located the estate may “escheat” (go to) to the state coffers.

Control Who Will Take Care Of Your Minor Children

Preparing a Will and naming a guardian for your children places you in control of the person(s) you desire to meet the needs of your children and reflect your values. Without a Will the court may select a guardian from any family member, regardless if you were estranged during your life. If no family member agrees to guardianship or is deemed appropriate, the court may choose a state appointed guardian such as foster care.

Control Estate Taxes

Controlling taxes is a continuous event during our lifetime. An estate plan continues the control in minimizing estate taxes. A spouse may not take an inheritance tax free. Now is the time to put a plan in place to ensure the maximum of your legacy goes to your heirs rather than for taxes. Let’s revisit the example of music legend Prince. Without a Will or other estate planning, roughly one half of Prince’s estate could go to Federal and state taxes.

Control Probate

Having an estate plan helps speed the probate process, reduces probate costs, or in some circumstances, avoids probate completely.

Control Who Does Not Inherit

Earlier we discussed a plan to choose the exact people who receive your legacy. Now, we draw attention to controlling who will not inherit from your estate. An estate plan is your personal outline and direction of exactly how you want your personal legacy to be distributed. The estate plan allows you to be as detailed as possible and gives you the opportunity to exclude heirs making your intention of distribution clear. For example, perhaps some family members are financially established and you want to distribute assets based upon need, perhaps a family member may be incapable or irresponsible with money management needing small distributions of money over time using a trust, or perhaps a family member participates in lifestyle choices you may not wish to support.

Control Family Feuding

Estate planning may reduce the fighting and conflict among family members. Executing a well drafted estate plan places you in control of potential conflicts. Family members may not view your clear directions of dividing assets in a favorable manner, but your intentions will be clear to the court. Further, some states allow forfeiture/no contest clauses, indicating if an heir contests your estate plan then the heir may forfeit any gift made under the Will.

Control Charitable Legacy

An estate plan allows your legacy to live on by personally choosing charitable giving reflective of your values, interests, and social concerns.

Control Financial and Medical Care

Through estate planning with a Durable Power of Attorney, you control your financial and medical care in the event of a disability.

You can take control of your Life Plan now by engaging an experienced estate planning attorney to assist with the personal legacy you want to create. An estate plan expresses your values and outlines how you desire your assets to be preserved and protected. Who is in control of your legacy?

For more information about Life Plans, please contact our Wealth Management and Trust department.

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5 Ways to Spot a Lottery Scam

According to the FBI, in 2014 consumers lost more than $8 million to solicitation scams promising instant wealth and grand prize earnings. These scams, commonly referred to as the “advance fee,” “lottery” or “sweepstake” scam, involve fraudsters issuing counterfeit checks and fake award letters to consumers who have allegedly won a lottery or sweepstake raffle. The consumer, who most likely never entered the alleged drawing, is issued a check worth more than the amount owed and instructed to pay taxes and fees before receiving their lump sum payment. Unfortunately, the check — in addition to the raffle — is bogus.

Before you participate in any lottery or sweepstake, Stock Yards Bank & Trust encourages you to keep these tips in mind:

• Don’t be fooled by the appearance of the check. Scam artists are using sophisticated technology to create counterfeit checks that mirror the appearance of legitimate checks. Some are counterfeit money orders, some are phony cashier’s checks and others look like they are from legitimate business accounts. The companies whose names appear may be real, but someone has dummied up the checks without their knowledge.

• Never ‘pay to play.’ There is no legitimate reason for someone who is giving you money to ask you to wire money back or send you more than the exact amount —that’s a red flag that it’s a scam. If a stranger wants to pay you for something, insist on a cashier’s check for the exact amount, preferably from a local bank or one with a local branch.

• Verify the requestor before you wire or issue a check. It is important to know who you are sending money to before you send it. Just because someone contacted you doesn’t mean they are a trusted source.

• Ensure a check has “cleared” to be most safe. Under federal law, banks must make deposited funds available quickly, but just because you can withdraw the money doesn’t mean the check is good, even if it’s a cashier’s check or money order. Be sure to ask if the check has cleared, not merely if the funds are available before you decide to spend the money.

• Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately. Bank staff are experts in spotting fraudulent checks. If you think someone is trying to pull a fake check scam, don’t deposit it—report it. Contact your local bank or the National Consumers League’s Fraud Center, fraud.org.

For more information about fake check scams and how you can avoid them, go to fakechecks.org.

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

4 Essential Summer Activities

Looking to get away this summer without going too far? The city of Louisville has several attractions that can keep the whole family entertained. Here are 4 outdoor summer activities you don’t want to skip in Louisville:

  1. The Walking Bridge

This one is a no-brainer. The Walking Bridge is a great outdoor activity with the best views of downtown Louisville. Walk over to Jeffersonville and cool off inside various restaurants and shops.

  1. Nulu

Nulu (New Louisville) is an up-and-coming area in downtown Louisville in the East Market District. There is always something different happening, and summer weekends often involve local fairs, festivals, and flea markets.

  1. The Louisville Zoo

This Louisville classic is a wonderful place to enjoy a beautiful summer day. The Louisville Zoo is a great place for families to get up close and personal with various wild animals. Be sure to cool off at the Zoo’s recent addition of Splash Park.

  1. Falls of the Ohio

Discover the “largest, naturally exposed, Devonian fossil beds in the world” at the banks of the Ohio River. Located in Clarksville, Indiana, this quick trip involves hands-on learning that is sure to excite the family.

4 Tips to Avoid the Grandparent Scam

The next time you receive a frantic call from someone saying they are your grandchild and asking for money, make sure it’s actually your grandchild who’s calling.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2016, impersonation scams ranked second as the most common consumer complaint, with more than 400,000 reported. The “grandparent scam,” is a form of financial abuse that deliberately targets older Americans using impersonation tactics.

To commit this crime, fraudsters call claiming to be a family member in serious trouble and in need of money immediately. The scammer might say he’s stranded or has been mugged, and call in the middle of the night to add to the urgency and confusion. Once the money is wired, the victim later finds out that it wasn’t their grandchild they were helping, it was a criminal.

In recognition of May as Older Americans Month, Stock Yards Bank & Trust offers older Americans these tips to help them prevent impersonation fraud:

  • Confirm the caller. Fraudsters are using social networking sites to gain the personal information of friends and relatives to carry out their crimes. Verify the caller by calling them back on a known number or consult a trusted family member before acting on any request.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Fraudsters want to execute their crimes quickly. The more questions you ask the more inclined they will be to ditch the scam if they suspect you’re on to them.
  • Never give personal information to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call and the other party is trusted.
  • Never rush into a financial decision and trust your instincts. Don’t be fooled – if something doesn’t feel right, it may not be right. Feel free to say no and get more information before you send money to someone.

Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association

6 Banking Tips for Millennials

As millennials juggle a multitude of responsibilities – from school, to work, to planning for major life events – the American Bankers Association is highlighting eight banking tips to help them secure a financially sound future.

“Millennials are digital natives who understand the importance of staying connected socially, but staying connected to their bank can help their finances as they encounter life’s many milestones,” said Rob Nichols, ABA president and CEO. “From enhanced mobile resources to free budgeting tools, banks offer a variety of products and services to complement millennials’ unique lifestyles and ease their worries as they prepare to make some of life’s biggest financial decisions.”

With a recent report finding that more than 4 in 10 U.S. millennials say they are “chronically stressed” about money, ABA recommends these six tips to help them secure a strong financial footing:

  • Use bank tech to save without thinking about it. Consider automatic payroll deductions or automatic transfer from checking to savings. Arrange to have a specific amount transferred to your savings account every pay period. For more information on Stock Yard’s savings options, visit https://www.syb.com/personal/banking/savings.
  • Download your bank’s mobile app and make some smooth moves. Manage your finances from the palm of your hand. With the click of a button, you can easily make a deposit or access a record of all your recent transactions. Be sure to download the latest updates when they are available.
  • Use the personal finance tools your bank may offer. Banks offer an array of budgeting tools and resources to help you keep your finances in check. Access these via your bank’s mobile app and website. Check out Stock Yard’s calculator tools to help you organize financial goals.
  • Expect the unexpected – set up a rainy day fund. The last thing you want to be is stressed when life’s unexpected expenditures come knocking on your door. Set up a secondary checking or savings account for emergencies or link an existing account to your main account as an added layer of protection.
  • Get a head start. Banks play a major role in helping customers prepare for major life events such as buying a house and planning for retirement. Ask your banker how you can get a head start on your first major purchase by establishing credit or about starting a retirement account with a 401(k) from a previous employer.
  • Stay connected with social media. Interact with your bank via social media to get the latest news on products and services, ask bank-related questions and find links to exclusive bank content and resources. Visit Stock Yards on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

For more information on millennial bank customers, including ABA’s recent infographic on millennials compiling information from various sources, visit aba.com/Millennials.

Information provided by the American Bankers Association.

Holiday Giving: How to Become a Savvy Charitable Giver

It’s hard to believe there are only 8 days left until Christmas! For many people, it is important to take time during the holiday season to give to those who are in need.  Donating to your favorite cause can be fulfilling, but it’s important to ensure that your gift reaches the intended source. Follow these tips to become a savvy charitable giver this holiday season:

  • Give To an Established Charity
    Unfortunately, there are fraudulent charities that will take advantage of your goodwill.  To avoid this situation, ask for written information about the charity, including name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity will give you information about their mission, how your donation will be used and proof that your contribution is tax deductible. Find a charity with a proven track record for providing aid.
  • Designate Your Gift
    Some charities allow you to specify exactly where your gift is headed, either to a specific orphanage, to purchase school supplies or to a geographic area in need of relief.  By designating or earmarking your gift, you control where your donation goes and whom it helps.
  • A Proactive Giver is a Smart Giver
    Wise givers don’t give on an impulse or to the first organization that comes along.  Smart givers take time to identify the causes important to them.  Contact a charitable organization, find out their mission and what type of aid and programs they offer.  Work with charities that have targeted outcomes for their giving.
  • Benefits to You
    A donor’s primary motivation may be altruism, but everyone knows there are great tax benefits for those who give. A donation to a qualified organization may entitle you to a charitable contribution deduction.  Remember a contribution to a qualified charity is deductible only in the year in which it is paid, and all charities do not qualify for a charitable contribution deduction.  Always ask for a receipt and save them for tax time.
  • Consider Giving Your Time
    Four out of five charities report using volunteers.  Volunteers are the foundation of many charitable organizations. If you can’t afford to donate money, consider donating your time.  Common volunteer duties include: stuffing envelopes, feeding animals, tutoring, building homes, serving as a museum docent, counseling those in crisis, selling tickets or answering phone calls.

Visit these other sites to find out more on charitable giving:

Resource information provided by the American Bankers Association

6 Money Tips for Family Caregivers

According to the Caregiver Action Network, more than 90 million Americans care for a loved one living with a disability, disease or experiencing reduced financial capability as a result of aging. Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustee or a federal benefits fiduciary, play an important role in ensuring that all finances – from routine to complex – are managed wisely, helping their loved ones maintain the best quality of life possible. In recognition of National Family Caregiver Month, Stock Yards is helping financial caregivers better understand their role.

  • Learn the rights and restrictions that apply to your role. Financial caregivers, such as those with a power of attorney, trustees, and federal benefits fiduciaries, are fiduciaries with a duty to act and make decisions on their loved one’s behalf. Learn the legal responsibilities of your assigned authority in order to better execute your role.
  • Manage money and other assets wisely. Financial caregivers may be in charge of daily, unexpected and future expense their loved one may incur. Especially if the beneficiary has a fixed income or limited finances, it is extremely important that caregivers minimize unnecessary costs and budget accordingly to ensure that all money is properly allocated.
  • Recognize danger signs. Seniors have become major targets for financial abuse and fraud. Make sure to stay alert to signs of scams or identity theft that may put your loved one’s assets in peril.
  • Keep careful records. When acting as a financial agent, proper documentation is not only encouraged but required. Make sure you keep well-organized financial records, including up-to date lists of assets and debts and a streamline of all financial transactions.
  • Stay informed. Monitor changes in financial status of the beneficiary and take appropriate action, as needed. Also, be sure to stay up to date on changes in the laws affecting seniors.
  • Seek professional advice. Consult a banker or other professional advisors when you’re not sure what to do.

Stock Yards Bank is also providing an explanation of the various roles and responsibilities of three types of financial caregivers: power of attorney, trustee and federal fiduciary.

Understanding your role as a power of attorney.

POA is designated by your loved one and gives you the authority to act and make decisions on their behalf, including managing and having access to their bank and other financial accounts. Authority continues if loved one becomes incapacitated and ends when power is revoked or loved one dies.

Understanding your role as a trustee.
Authority is given once you are named as trustee or co-trustee of a revocable living trust. As a trustee your authority applies only to the property noted in the trust, authorizing you to protect, manage and distribute the trust’s assets as directed in the trust document. Authority continues after the death of the trust creator or grantor.

Understanding your role as a federal benefits fiduciary.
A federal benefits fiduciary is appointed to accept and delegate federal government benefit payments, such as Social Security and Veterans Affairs benefits, in the beneficiary’s best interest. Funds for the beneficiary are received through an account set up solely for this purpose. As a representative payee for Social Security benefits or a VA fiduciary for VA benefits, you are required to keep detailed records of all transactions related to the beneficiary and file annual reports detailing how benefits were used.

The Caregiver Action Network (the National Family Caregivers Association) began promoting national recognition of family caregivers in 1994. President Clinton signed the first NFC Month Presidential Proclamation in 1997 and every president since has followed suit by issuing an annual proclamation recognizing and honoring family caregivers each November.

To learn more information about National Family Caregiver Month and your role as a financial caregiver, visit www.caregiveraction.org. For tips and additional resources, visit aba.com/seniors.

Resource Information Provided by the American Bankers Association