Estate Planning Case Study with Hal Coleman

Hello, and welcome back to the Estate Planning Podcast. Today I have us joined by our guest Hal Coleman. Hal is a longtime friend of the Rhodes Law Firm team and he is going to tell us a little bit about his estate planning journey, and how we can help others like you moving forward. Hal thank you for joining us.

Oh, you’re welcome. I’m excited. Excited to be here to talk about the estate planning planning expert Colby Kukelski

So when we talk about the estate planning process, what we’re really talking about is the importance of having an estate plan. And correct me, you and your family, have an estate plan?

Well, we do now. You know, we, my wife and I, have been married for 48 years. And we have a couple of grown kids, we have grandkids. And when we first got married, and I guess my son was born after three years, we just thought we needed a Will. We wanted to do everything that you’re supposed to do.

If I can interrupt you real quick, why was it that you thought you needed a Will?

Marketing Expert Hal ColemanSomebody told me I needed one.

So when you’re looking to get a Will, what were the important things you guys were looking to accomplish with that Will?

Well basically just if something happened to us, where did our stuff go? We wanted our stuff. You know, it was a simple Will. It was if I died everything went to my wife, if she died, everything went to me and if we both died at all went between our two kids, divided equally.

So this is about three years after your first child was born. Yeah.

My second child was born by then I guess. We decide later. But yeah, tell us much. When we went to get an estate plan about two years, three years ago, finally. Actual I’m a Rotarian. And we had somebody speak at our rotary club about estate planning. And, you know, we now we own a home, we own stocks, we own jewelry, we own a lot of stuff. And so it made me realize we need more than just that simple. We’ll know my marks on I said, you know, if something happened to mama, you’re going to quit your job move North Carolina and live where you’re at.

Because that Will hadn’t been looked at guardianship kids for minors, presumably,

Since they were toddlers. And here they are in their 40s.

And they were going to have to go live with the aunt and so when when y’all looked at this, again, you know, life’s changed, your children are much older, you have a lot more stuff. So what were y’all looking to do when you’re realizing you needed an updated estate plan?

Well, to make sure that things from a simple standpoint, to make sure that everybody got what we wanted them to have, and that the government got the least amount that they could constantly get, and that that we were hit with the least amount of taxes that we’d be hit with and that it didn’t get hung up in probate or in the courts forever. And a lot of it is on my mind.

I had an employee one time who was he went to work for me when he was about 18 years old. And right after that this, his parents were divorced. And his father was diagnosed with a brain tumor. An inoperable brain tumor. So they left and went on this trip, they had hunted and fished together all you know since he was a little kid. So they went on this trip out west. Just one last trip together father and son came home and that next year his father passed away. And his father didn’t even have a Will. So his father’s camping equipment, his father’s guns, the all the stuff that were the keepsakes and stuff, they’d use fishing equipment and everything. Oh, the stepmother gave all that stuff to her kids. And he didn’t get he didn’t get anything of his father’s he got to see that a lot.

And that kind of hit me hard. I’m thinking golly, that’s what a bad thing. So I was thinking that you know, the importance of having stuff designated. And then when we have a financial guy, you know who manages our retirement our money and He said, You know, you really need to get an estate plan if you hadn’t had a Will done in a long time. And then when I heard the guy speak at Rotary and I thought, okay, we better go do this. And then I found out well, it’s a lot more complicated than I thought it was.

It is it is a lot more complicated. But also at the same time, I would like to say that it’s probably making things easier. Yes, it’s more work on the front end. But we’re making things easier on your heirs, whether that be your spouse or your children down the line as well, because at least we have some sort of plan in place. You know, your friend that you mentioned, his dad had no plan in place. I don’t think his dad’s intent was that the step-mom gave everything to her children. But because there was no plan in place, that’s what happened. So yes, estate planning can be doing more work on the front end. But it’s also you know, saving that grief and that heartache down the line, because at least we have a plan to implement.

Yeah, and when I said it was more complicated than I thought it was, it turned out to be a whole lot more important and a whole lot more necessary than I thought it was to I’m thinking holy smokes. If something happened to us, and we didn’t have this, you know, who knows? What would happen?

What would have happened at that point? Yeah. So the estate plan you put in place you and your wife put in place, you know, when your children were young, versus the estate plan y’all put in place a couple of years ago, are probably dramatically different. The kids are older, your circumstances in life have changed. So the importance of ensuring that you review this periodically, I think is a good lesson to learn from that. Oh, yeah.

Yeah. Because, you know, we, we had a, for instance, my daughter was named as our Will, my wife, brother was named as the executor of our estate in the beginning. And since he had been deceased for about 10 years, that was another reason now we have nobody named as executor or now my daughter is, but what if she were to be deceased before us, so we have a second choice and a third choice, and you just, you got to have a plan eight. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, but a plan A plan B, a Plan C.

As many plans as that’s what I typically tell clients when they’re coming to us, and they’re thinking of, who do we name in these executive roles, you can give me as many names as you want, because the less likely we have to, you know, amend this on the on very quickly in the future. It’s important that you know, you review your estate plan periodically, for the very reason you just mentioned, if there’s been family changes with someone passing away, or you know, the children getting older, no longer needing guardianship, it’s important that you put a pair of eyes on this every couple of years.

Yeah, and I can’t imagine somebody passing away and their heirs, maybe there’s a lot of land, maybe there’s millions of dollars in the estate. But something causes it to get into the court systems and it can’t be probated, or it can’t be resolved. And you have people, I’ve got that going on with a friend of mine right now who they own property worth millions of dollars. And when his father passed away, there are some distant relatives somewhere that is named in there as an heir to get $100,000 or something trivial amount compared to this state. But they their attorney located this person and paid him their money, but this person won’t sign some document that has to be signed to they can’t do anything. Because this person is presented complications. Yeah, who explained to me how it worked or not, but it’s like there’s one person that they’ve never even met in their life is holding up the liquidation of this multi million dollar estate. And everybody is like, we’d like to have our money.

Right? We’d like to get this wrapped up. And you know, it’s not always the distant relatives either. We we’ve seen time and time again, where it could be one of the children. I just, you know, got through a probate in South Carolina that we’ve been closing for three years over a piece of land that the children were arguing between themselves about who’s should inherit, even though mom and dad had a Will that explicitly says who’s to inherit, they still argued between themselves and the dragged on for three years. So anytime you’re using that Will, it’s going to have to be probated, and we get into all kinds of issues and people arguing and dragging their feet on getting things closed out.

Yeah, funny story. I had a friend, Attorney years ago, who told me that he had a couple and he was a divorce lawyer. But he said, I’ve got this couple that got divorced, and they got this crock pot for a wedding present. And it had sentimental value for both of them. And they’re fighting over the crock pot. And he said, he said they have spent so far $1,500 on legal fees to say who gets to take home, a $39 crock pot. Just the trivial stuff.

It’s just emotional. You know, when emotions get involved, I guess is when it really goes off the track. But you know, it was a big issue once we got in there to do the financial plan. And came back, we get we we talked it all through, we got everything, you know, agreed upon, then we had to go back after they got it all drawn up and signed the papers. But I tell my wife, I said, Well, this has just lifted a big burden off of me that I didn’t even know I was carrying around. I wasn’t even aware of how complex and how important all of these decisions were. I said it’s. And we both agreed that we wish it had done this a long time ago. Thank goodness. You know, we’re still around. But sure.

Yeah. So I typically tell clients, you know, you don’t know what you don’t know. But once you know, that usually puts the little fear. And you’ve we’ve been doing life without these documents in place. And now you understand the importance of them. So when you put your estate plan in place, I’m presuming you also put some powers of attorneys in place to so you or your wife, you know, needed help making decisions during life. You guys have already decided who’s going to help make those decisions for you?

Absolutely. Which is another really important part of estate planning. It’s not just where the stuff goes. But if you need help during life, someone’s already been named that you trust to be able to help make those decisions for you.

Yes, yes. So it would I would advise anybody that doesn’t have an estate plan to go do one, it’s, you know, it’s just such a it’s almost like having an annual physical, I would advise you to have one, if you’ve never had one, you know, you might find out things that you weren’t aware of. I’m glad we did.

Right. And similarly, like to having an annual physical, once you have one, you should kind of put a second pair of eyes on it every couple of years, we typically recommend most clients review an estate plan about every three years. The reason for that being is so we can you know, check on all the stuff making sure all the stuff is where it’s supposed to be. And it’s tied to the estate plan the way it should be. And then just checking in on the family and making sure that the people we’ve named are still with us and you’re still comfortable with them being named in those positions. So like an annual physical, you should check on your state plan every couple of years.

No, it’s one of those things. I think that people are in denial about, there’s a couple of things we know are bound to happen if you don’t pay taxes at some point and you’re going to need an estate plan at some point.

That’s right. That’s right. And you know, it’s a cost a little bit to get it done, but know, the relief and the and I know they’re probably some people who say, Well, I don’t want to pay money to go get it done. Too much money, but they’ll go to Six Flags and one day it’s been more money than that. And come home just had had a good time. You know, and I’m like, Well, you could have gotten an estate plan done probably for about what you spent today at Six Flags. So it’s just priorities but people when it comes to death and things like the people tend to put it off until tomorrow

And putting it off till tomorrow is really also just putting that cost off. You could either you know pay that cost during life having your plan in place, or if something should happen, you still got to do this work. But at that point, you it’s not your plan. So your family still having to pay, but they’re not implementing your plan at that point. So it really isn’t an inevitable cost. So at least doing it during life, you have control over where your things go and who’s in control. Yep. Well, then how anything else you want to add for our listeners, anything else? Any advice and you want to give?

I don’t know, I just, you know, you asked me if I would share my story, and I’m happy to do that. Thank you. If I could add anything else, it’s, you don’t know what you don’t know. Now, go talk to somebody if you own anything. Or if you have anything that you want to pass down to your heirs. Go talk to somebody about an estate plan, and just talk with them about it. And you’re gonna find out things that you had no idea. You’re gonna go wow, I had no idea. So go do it. No, don’t put it off and risk things turning out really bad.

Well, I do appreciate you. Thank you for coming in and joining us and sharing your story with us. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know. But now that you know, it’s something that you and your wife will put a pair of eyes on every couple of years and make sure the plan you want is the plan that’s going to be implemented. So thank you for joining us today, Hal and if there ever any questions or concerns, just make sure you’re talking to your attorney. Make sure you’re revisiting this plan every a couple years.

Will do it. Thanks. All right.

Thank you Hal.

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