A Pennsylvania couple shares how their Legacy Assurance Plan membership has given them peace of mind that their financial interests and legacies are protected.
Legacy Assurance Plan member Miguel S. says that, in retrospect, he appreciates the persistence of his wife.
Over the years, Margaret, 60, had been politely nudging Miguel, 67, about taking care of something that most Americans prefer to put off - getting their estate plans in order.
“She was always telling me, 'We have to do our wills.' And I kept forgetting about it,” says Miguel, speaking with an infectious chuckle and a slight accent that reflects his rich Latin heritage.
The rural Pennsylvania couple has worked hard to pursue the American dream, Miguel explained during a recent interview about his experience as a Legacy Plan member. He says their membership has enabled them to create a comprehensive estate plan and take action to protect their assets and the legacy they'll leave behind for their twin sons, now age 24. One of their sons serves in the Army, and the other lives nearby, working as a mechanical engineer.
As baby boomers, Miguel and Margaret realized they weren't getting any younger. The occasional hospital visit provided more reminders about the need to plan ahead each time the admissions attendant would inquire about living wills, he says.
“But I never paid any attention to it because I was immortal,” says Miguel, a retired engineer who remains busy with a part-time job as an interpreter.
These days, Miguel also is active with the local Rotary Club and volunteers as an Extension educator, imparting knowledge to the younger generation. He receives Social Security income and a regular distribution from an annuity. Margaret teaches Spanish at a local high school and hopes to retire in a few years. They met after Miguel moved here to escape the political turmoil and uncertainty of his native Venezuela.
They've been dedicated in their long pursuit to own their own home, raise their children and build a nest egg to provide for their retirement. When they learned of Legacy Plan and received an invitation to receive more information about planning for the future, they decided to take advantage of the no-obligation opportunity.
“Being here and not having an extended family and stuff, you think more about yourself and more about who is going to take care of you and what can happen to you at a later date,” he says. “If you subtract that worrying time from your daily life, you have more time to think about more creative stuff and more enjoyment.”
Before working with Legacy Plan recently, Miguel and Margaret were like the estimated 60 percent of their fellow Americans who have failed to create planning documents. Prior to their membership, they had no last will and testament, revocable living trust, powers of attorney for health care and finances or advance health care directive (living will).
For Miguel and Margaret, part of the American dream is being able to sleep easy at night. He said they take comfort in knowing their estates will avoid probate and benefit their sons when that eventuality comes.
“My wife was very afraid of it,” Miguel said of the probate process, which involves delays and additional expenses that burden survivors. Probate's lack of privacy was another factor that motivated them to develop a comprehensive estate plan.
They created a revocable living trust and beneficiary designations to enable their retirement savings, bank accounts, the family home, insurance proceeds and other assets to skip probate and pass directly to their beneficiaries. Today, those important legal documents comprise their estate planning binder.
Miguel said that in his experience as a Legacy Plan member, he has learned that planning is much more than distributing assets when the time comes. He now realizes that comprehensive planning deals not only with our estates after death, but also our preferences on how to handle challenges we confront during our lifetimes.
He was reminded recently by a co-worker about the perils of failing to plan for life events. The co-worker's mother is confined to a nursing home and was forced to sell her home and devote her Social Security income to pay for the costs of her long-term care. Miguel's colleague is only able to provide clothing and incidentals to help her mom get by.
According to recent estimates, the current cost of long-term care averages about $7,000 per month. It was a key reason Miguel and Margaret opted to invest in long-term care insurance.
“And then I think about myself,” Miguel said. “Would that happen to me?”
That nagging question helped motivate them to create a plan that deals not only with their estate but also addresses life's contingencies, such as incapacity. It's reassuring, he says, knowing that the agents under his powers of attorney are trusted people of his choosing who will manage his health care and finances if the need ever arises.
“Someone is going to make a decision for me when I am not around about my assets,” he says with confidence.
Miguel says he now encourages others to consider developing their own plans and take advantage of the free information that Legacy Plan makes available.
“In my case, the trust and the plan that I did with you guys protects me,” he said. “It was something we considered, and it was a good investment in terms of peace of mind. It gets us a lot of uncertainty eliminated from our lives. Now we know what's going to happen, and we don't have to worry. It makes your life more settled.”
He says he appreciates the customer service he has received from the Legacy Plan staff. “Every one of you have been nice, knowledgeable, serious people.”
Miguel also likes the idea that his Legacy Plan membership enables him to review and update his plan regularly.
That's especially important, he says with a hopeful chuckle, if grandchildren are in the future.