Part 40
Thomas M. Boles, 33, G.C.
La Habra, California

It is best to think of making or updating your will as an opportunity, not a burden.

If you are planning the use of a Will, rather than a Trust, the main question is: Is Your Will Up To Date?

We have all heard the unbelievable but true accounts that over half the adult population in the United States does not have a will of any kind. But how many of us who do have a will are confident that its terms will carry out our wishes in the event of death and thus serve and protect our family? That is, how many of us have an outdated will?

An outdated will may be as bad as, or worse than, not having a will at all! Many things can change to make the terms of a will written years ago very different from current intentions.

For example, people do not typically start their adult lives with the desire to help a charitable organization, but as they grow older, they become more aware of the role our Masonic Fraternity, as an example, plays in our society. But a will written 20 years ago might not take into account your personal priorities today. As with any other plan involving finances and taxes, a will should be reviewed periodically. This means at least every three or four years, or whenever you experience a change in (1) family circumstances, such as a marriage, a divorce, or a death; or (2) state or federal laws on estate planning are redrawn; or (3) the size or type of your assets changes; or (4) you move from the state where you drafted the will.

Whenever people consider making or updating a will, all sorts of questions pop up. Unfortunately, lots of these concerns stem from a negative attitude. Will it cost much? How will I ever decide who should get what? Do I really have to think about my own death? Why do I have to do this now?

If these questions resemble your first thoughts, too, just remember this: a will is a good thing, not as good as a trust, but truly a good thing. Think of making or updating your will as an opportunity, not a burden. Having a better frame of mind leads you to ask much more productive questions, such as those that follow. Then you will see that your will provides you with a privilege you should not dismiss lightly.

Your will is a way to be sure all of your property will go to those relatives, friends, and organizations you care about most. Without a will, the state will decide who gets what, without consulting anyone or considering your special circumstances. But wonít joint ownership, life insurance, and pension arrangements take care of things? Yes, up to a point. Remember, though, you probably have other assets to dispose of, such as personal effects, automobiles, your last salary check, an inheritance, or a pending claim. And what if you and your spouse or other person who is the joint owner or policy beneficiary die in a common accident? Beyond that, too much joint ownership may result in a big tax bite out of the survivorís estate, something you can avoid with a good estate plan.

Hereís what I think your will should do for you. To begin with, your will lets you give specific possessions and amounts of money to individuals and charitable organizations. What remains is residue of your estate which you can then give in various proportions to your spouse, children, relatives, friends, and charitable orga- nizations like those you find within the Masonic Fraternity (especially the Scottish Rite Foundation). You can also set up trust arrangements through your will, and your will lets you choose an executor who is capable of settling your estate.

You may think that certain benefits in the tax laws take the sting out of estate taxes. That depends on your circumstances. Under federal law, an estate of up to $600,000 can pass tax-free. And thereís an unlimited marital deduction for property left to a surviving spouse, either outright or in a qualified trust, if both are U.S. citizens. But for gifts to anyone but a spouse, the value of the estate over the tax-free level ($600,000) will be subject to federal tax rates. The rates kick in at 37% and go up from there. I donít know about you, but I think itís a shame not to use the tools for tax saving that the government provides. Which leaves my ďadĒ for this month to read: In most cases, our laws are equally fair; contact a professional to see where you can benefit.

Please Note: This information is distributed with the understanding that the author is not engaged in rendering legal, accounting, or other professional service. If legal advice or other expertise is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. From: A Declaration of Principles jointly adopted by a Committee of the American Bar Association and a Committee of Publishers.

To receive more information on the benefits of giving appreciated assets to the Scottish Rite Foundation, S.J., USA, print this web page, fill out the requested information, and mail to the address below:

For an investment of securities and/or real estate, please run a calculation and send it to me based on an investment of $__________. Assume the cost basis of the asset (what was originally paid, less depreciation) is $__________.

My birth date is _________________; My spouseís is _________________.

Name ____________________________ Date _______________________

Address _______________________________________________________

City _________________________ State ________ Zip _______________

Send to: Scottish Rite Foundation, c/o Thomas M. Boles, 1761 East Woodcrest Avenue, La Habra, CA 90631-3260

Brethren Benefit From Pooled Income Fund
What is one of the better ways you can benefit yourself and your family and, at the same time, support the Scottish Rite and its Childhood Language Disorders Program? The answer is simple: The Scottish Rite Pooled Income Fund!

The Scottish Rite Pooled Income Fund allows you and, if you wish, your wife and/or other beneficiary(ies) to receive a worry-free lifetime income as well as attractive tax benefits by joining the Fund via a financial gift to The Scottish Rite Foundation, S.J., USA. For more information call, 1-800-486-3331 or fax 202-387-1843.

Grand Commander Kleinknecht will personally respond to your inquiry. If he is not available, please leave your name and number, and the Grand Commander will return your call at his earliest opportunity. Through the Scottish Rite Pooled Income Fund, you can do well for yourself and your family while also doing good for others!