Estate Planning Wisdom for Singles with Merrell Bailey Part 2
November 9, 2023

This is part two of our discussion with Merrell Bailey, a seasoned estate attorney, CPA, and MBA. In this half of the conversation, she will share estate planning wisdom for singles who don’t plan on getting married. Merrell also highlights the importance of proactively planning for your estate by documenting your assets and stating preferences for inheritances and medical care decisions. Listen in to learn how to secure your estate and plan for a comfortable and stress-free retirement!

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Episode Transcript

Note: This transcript was produced using AI, so please excuse any typos and inaccuracies…

Marc Killian  00:11

everybody to the podcast this week, it is planning wise, retire free with Jude Wilson, from centrist financial strategies back for part two of our Estate Planning conversation with our special guest, Merrill Bailey joining us, and we’re going to pick up where they left off on the prior chat, getting into some conversation around things to think about for singles for individuals, versus maybe married couples. So we’re gonna get into that conversation here in just a second. But again, if you’ve got some questions or concerns, make sure you always check with a qualified professional like Jude, like Merrill, before you take any action, and you can reach out to them. And you can find the information to get in touch with everybody by simply hitting up Jude and his team at sin trust That is C E N, tr U. S., centrist and get started today with a conversation. All right, take it away, dude, let’s roll on part two.


Jude Wilson  01:04

In my practice, I’m starting to see more and more what we call Henry’s high earners, not rich yet. And a lot of them are females who they don’t have any plans on getting married, or they were married and divorced and and they don’t plan on getting remarried. So they’re, they’re individuals now. And do they have some concerns? As far as estate planning goes? Yes.


Merrell Bailey  01:31

But what’s really interesting is, and I have a lot of same sex couple clients, and before they were legally allowed to get married, there were issues I can document up someone who is unmarried, I can document up a couple that is unmarried to have almost all the same rights as a married couple legally. But there’s there are a few rights that you cannot document up. And or and one of those. So whether you’re married or not, the moment you turn age 18 You are Your Own Private Idaho as far as your legal unit, and your parents no longer have authority over you. And even if you get married, your spouse no longer has authority over you. And your if you have children, and they become adults, and now you’re older, they think they can help you. No one has the legal authority to help you unless you sign a durable power of attorney. And it’s a document that says I Merrill named my husband, Ralph and Ralph can handle my affairs. And if Ralph can’t do it, I list who can do it next. Well, Ralph assumes just because he’s married to me that he has that authority already. And that does not come with marriage is not one of the rights of marriage. So whether you’re unmarried or not, you should have a general dual power of attorney if you don’t have one. And you become incapacitated, whether you’re medically incapacitated, or you’re in the hospital in a coma, or you have some mental health issues. Like, let’s Britney Spears is the most well known person right now that had to deal with this because perhaps she didn’t have a general durable power of attorney or but for whatever reason, she ended up in guardianship court or it’s called conservatorship in California. And so her dad was brought in as her ward, WA rd. And she, I’m sorry, she was the ward and her dad was brought in as the guardian or conservator, and he had rights over her. It can be a very narrow guardianship or can be a very broad guardianship, but either way, the person has control to handle your affairs. And if it goes through the court, as a guardianship or conservatorship, it’s expensive. It’s public record, it’s all the court gets to decide and what you spend money on. So it’s very intrusive. And a, an easy way to avoid that is a durable power of attorney. So if you’re unmarried, well married or unmarried, you definitely need to start with a durable power of attorney. You then say, Okay, well, who do I want to make medical care decisions? For me? There is a statute in most states that say, you know, if you don’t have any documents, and you’re ill, these are the people who can be in charge of you. And it starts with spouse when you don’t have one. Then it goes to your parents. Well, they might be in their 80s. Do you really want it to be your parents? You might not even know them very well, you might not you might be disassociated from them. Well, because it may already passed, right? And then it goes to adult children. Well, you might not have any and then it goes to siblings well picker, like which sibling right? They’ve all got rights. Do you get along with all of them? Yeah, so the state has a plan for you. It just might not be what you want. So you may have to take affirmative action to list the people that you want to be in charge of you. Because if the state decides it’s not always what you want,


Jude Wilson  04:55

yeah, yeah. You know, I tell prospective clients all the time. If you You don’t have a plan, you plan to fail, it’s not going to work out exactly the way that you would want. And I think that’s such an important topic because as I said before, and in our practice, we’re seeing a lot more single individuals who don’t plan on getting married. And regardless if you’re married or not, like you said, the durable power of attorney is an important safety net, to help make sure that your care happens the way that you would particularly want. And the people that you trust the most are around you taking care of those issues. And, you know, to come kind of full circle, we’ve talked about a lot of great topics, one of the things that I want to kind of end on is preparing to see you, we, in our practice, go over six topics of main concern in the financial planning, we’ll, we don’t have time to talk about all six, but estate planning is one of them. And so we tell clients, we are not estate planning attorneys. But we want to bring to light what we call financial termites, just like termites in your wall, you don’t see them. But if you don’t take care of them, they’ll eat your house. And for many people, estate planning is a financial termite that they they’re not taking care of. So what we do when we have a new client is try to uncover those issues, bring them to their attention, and then refer them to you. So when you have someone come in, is it easier for you when they have already been prepped, had the discussion about some of these issues that are really important, and potential solutions, or it really doesn’t matter if they come off off the street, and they just say, Miro, please help me, which is a better situation for you. Well, people


Merrell Bailey  06:51

come to you, however they come to you, right. So if it’s going to overwhelm them to fill out paperwork and stuff, then we can work with them. I was just invited to a dinner at a potluck. And they’re like, and you can decorate your table. And I’m like, like, Don’t make me come if I have to bring table decorations. So like just something sometimes is a step too far. What I can say is, if you will take any amount of time in advance to pull together what you own. And what you Oh, that is such a great help. Because of the estate planning attorney. What am I trying to do? I’m trying to figure out what assets you have. And where do you want them to go? Yeah, well, how am I supposed to do that? If I don’t know what you own? Yeah. So how many bank accounts do you have? Where are they? How many retirement plans do you have? Where are they? How much is in them? Who’s that? Do you have a house here data house in another state? Like, what do you have? And what I find so, you know, amusing and charming from so many of my clients, when we asked them to fill out our fairly detailed information is they had no idea how much they had? Absolutely, they didn’t know. And I’ll be like, well, you’re raising rich kids, you just didn’t know that. Because by the time you add up the retirement plans, and the life insurance and the house, all of a sudden, we’ve got two comments and a number for our school teacher and a police officer. Right? They didn’t know they were millionaires. Yeah. But their kids are going to be rich. And that’s a whole different discussion. Like, how do you raise when you were raised solid middle class, like I was, how do you rate now? And then the kids are gonna be rich? What’s the difference? So just come in like, right, just just a little bit of time in advance is helpful. And the more thoughtful you fill out the paperwork before you meet with your state planning attorney, whether it’s me or anyone else, the more thoroughly I can help you. Yeah. But you know, we can just come as you are, we’ll figure it out. Yeah,


Jude Wilson  08:57

at the end of the day, it’s most important that they see you or see an estate planning attorney. Yeah. But I think I love that point that you made that if they’ve done a little bit of prep beforehand, it helps you and it helps them. And as part of our process, not only are we looking for what we call financial termite, but we’re organizing their financial life. Another tool that we use is called an asset map. And it basically says their whole financial picture in a pictorial sense. So they know, oh, my God, this is my net worth. These are where my assets are. And we tell clients to take that asset map and have it close to their estate planning documents once they’ve seen a qualified attorney like yourself, because it just helps in that process and in the future is going to help the whoever is the executor of the state. So it’s kind of a two step process. We want to uncover some of the issues Is that they may have in legacy planning and estate planning. And we want to bring those to light. So that when they go see the estate planning attorney, this is not the first time that they’ve heard some of these concepts, like a durable power of attorney, understanding your net worth, who are the most important people that should be inheriting your assets, and basically having some control from the grave? So that’s part of our process to to help them be better off and understanding what are the issues that they need to address. And I gotta give you, I’m going to embarrass you a little bit that we work with many estate planning attorneys, we work with clients who already have a state planning attorney in mind. But I love when a client tells me, I’ve referred them to a professional, and they come back and tell me, Oh, my God, that professional was great. And so I’m gonna take a moment and embarrass you. Almost every time we’ve referred someone to you, they come back and tell me, June. Oh, my God, thank you for sending me to Merrill. So with that said, I want to thank you, one for being a guest on our show, and two for taking such good care of our clients.


Merrell Bailey  11:07

Well, I’m honored and I’m honored to be on the show, and I’m honored to take care of your clients. I really appreciate it. Well,


Jude Wilson  11:13

great. Thank you. This is a state planning month. I hope you got some value out of our discussion today. And if you did, please pass this information on to someone else. But for now, I just want to say thank you, and we will see you on the next episode. Thanks, Jude. Thanks, Merrill. And


Marc Killian  11:31

thank you so much for tuning into the podcast. As we conclude the conversation on estate planning, we want to thank again our special guests Merrill Bailey for being here. And of course, as always, Jude Wilson for taking control of the reins and letting me sit back and just listen and enjoy the conversation. If you need some help, reach out to the team. Check them out online at centrist that is sent trust and you can subscribe to plan wise retire free on Apple, Google or Spotify. Have a great day. We’ll see you next time here on the show.


Walter Storholt  12:08

The preceding program is sponsored by Jude Wilson, who is solely responsible for its content. Financial Planning and advisory services are offered through prosperity Capital Advisors PCA an SEC registered investment advisor, with its principal place of business in the state of Ohio centers, financial strategies and PCA are separate non affiliated entities. PCA does not provide tax or legal advice, insurance and tax services offered through centrist financial strategies are not affiliated with PCA. information received from this podcast should not be viewed as individual investment advice. Product discussions and illustrations are hypothetical in nature and will vary based on many factors including but not limited to age, health, product, insurance, carrier and product design, you should consult the insurance carrier website and policy for detailed information. For information pertaining to the registration status of PCA, please contact the firm or refer to the Investment Advisor public disclosure website WWW dot advisor For additional information about PCA including fees and surfaces sent for our disclosure statement as set forth on Form ADV from PCA using the contact information here in please read the disclosure statement carefully before you invest or send money