Estate Planning and Fraud

Todd Voit |
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Estate Planning

It is never too early to consider estate planning, especially having an up-to-date Will on file to document your final wishes. There are ways to mitigate probate - the legal process of confirming a Will which can be both time consuming and costly. Some of these methods include:

  • Transfer on Death (TOD) or Payable on Death (POD) Designation – If you have a taxable or joint account, with us or elsewhere (i.e., your checking or savings account), a TOD or POD may be added to your account at no charge. Assets will then be transferred as directed upon your death.

  • Beneficiaries - Non-taxable accounts (retirement accounts) allow you to list your beneficiaries, both primary and contingent.

  • Revocable Living Trust – Generally drafted by an estate attorney. The registration for each of your assets (accounts, real estate, etc.) is then updated to reflect the name of your Trust.

TOD, POD and beneficiaries must be updated if there are any changes to your heirs. If utilizing a Will or Trust, an amendment to the document is necessary. We recommend that you review your assets at least annually to verify your current wishes are reflected.

Fraud

Fraud and scam attempts, including identity theft, are on the rise. Thieves are becoming more brazen and creative with their attempts. Below are a few tips to help protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud:

  • Do not answer the phone for unknown callers – let them leave a voicemail. Please also be aware that caller ID and email addresses are often manipulated by scammers to show the name of your bank, social security office, etc.

  • NEVER provide personal information to a caller or emailer (social security number, birthdate, bank account numbers, passwords, etc.). Banks, Investment Companies, Social Security office, the IRS, the police, etc. will never email or call you for personal information. Hang up and call a trusted contact at the company requesting the information to discuss.

  • NEVER send money or gift cards to receive something in return – if it sounds too good to be true it is! Scammers may request money to send you something of value or tell you a relative of yours is in trouble and in need of your help. They will often pressure you to decide quickly and ask that you keep the conversation with them confidential.

  • Change passwords periodically using unique passwords for each financial institution. Schwab offers security tokens or verbal passwords for a second layer of security at www.schwab.com, (Service, Security Center) or by calling Schwab at (800) 515-2157.

  • Shred sensitive papers when discarding to help prevent identity theft.

  • To avoid a potential virus on your computer, do not click on unsolicited email links. If the email is received from a trusted source, but you did not request any information, call them to verify it is legitimate before clicking on the link (including emails with a “warning” that you have a virus!).

  • Beware of using public WI-FI at libraries, coffee shops, hotels, etc. – passwords, financial information, etc. is not safe.

  • Add your landline and cell phone to the “do not call list” by calling 1-888-382-1222 or go on-line at www.donotcall.gov. This will not stop all unwanted calls; however, it should greatly reduce the volume of calls.

  • Before donating, check out the charity to verify it is legitimate at www.charitynavigator.org.

  • Consider removing credit card information after placing orders rather than storing your account information on sites such as Amazon Prime. Be sure to review your credit card statements monthly for erroneous charges.

How Can We Help?

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