Who can you trust to reduce stress of estate planning? When it’s time to do your estate planning – and it’s actually never too soon to begin – you may find the process, at first, to be somewhat bewildering. You’ll have many questions: What sort of arrangements should I make? Who should get what? And when? How can you address these and other issues? You’ll need to get some help. In drawing up your estate plan, you will need to work with an attorney. And for guidance on the investments that can help fund your estate planning arrangements, such as a living trust, you can draw on the help of a financial advisor. You also may want to connect with a trust company, which can help facilitate your estate plans and coordinate the activities of your legal and financial professionals. Of course, you might think that only the very wealthy need a trust company. But that’s not really the case – people of many income levels have long used these companies. As long as you have a reasonable amount of financial assets, you likely can benefit from the various services provided by a trust organization. And these services can range from administration of a variety of trusts (such as living trusts and charitable trusts) to asset-management services (bill-paying, check-writing, etc.) to safekeeping services (such as providing secure vaults for jewelry and collectibles). In short, using a trust company can make things a lot easier when it’s time to plan and execute your estate. A trust company can help you in the following ways: Avoiding family squabbles – It’s unfortunate, but true: Dividing the assets of an estate can cause ill will and turmoil among family members. But a trust company can act as a neutral third party, thus minimizing any feelings of unfairness. Providing greater control – When you establish an arrangement such as a living trust, administered by the trust company, you can give yourself great control over how you want your assets distributed. For example, you can specify that a certain child receive portions of your estate spaced out over several years – a move that may appeal to you if you think this child might not be ready to handle large sums all at once. Saving time and effort – As mentioned above, when you work with a trust company, you can let it do all the “legwork” of coordinating your plans with your financial professional, tax advisor and attorney. And these professionals are used to dealing with trust companies. Gaining protection – Trust companies assume fiduciary responsibility for your financial well-being – which means that your best interests will always be considered in each service and transaction performed. You can choose from among a variety of trust companies, large and small. Before choosing one, you may want to check out the services and fees of a few different firms. In any case, as you move toward that time of your life when estate planning becomes more essential, talk to your attorney, tax advisor and financial professional about whether using the services of a trust company might be right for you. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning attorney or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.
National Reading Month March is Reading Month. It is a time we set aside each year to highlight the importance of reading and its role in helping people lead successful lives. This month, thousands of students in Southwest Michigan and throughout our state will participate in events to mark the occasion. I am fortunate to be able to visit with many of our school children this month to read with them in their classrooms.
As a former teacher, I am excited to share my love of reading with students and to encourage them to read. Developing reading as a skill and promoting it as a fun habit serves to help our school kids to not only read, but to achieve. Being a successful reader is critical to a child’s development. It opens their minds to a world of imagination and possibility and to future success.
I have worked hard during my time as a legislator to support and invest in early childhood literacy programs and to help ensure all of Michigan’s students are proficient readers by third grade — a critical metric that can quite literally determine a person’s future. Data suggest those third graders who cannot read are four times more likely not to graduate high school, and that can lead to even more difficulty as an adult in terms of keeping a job and earning a living.
I hope you and your family will join in celebrating the joy of reading this month. It could make a world of difference in the life of a child you love.
I appreciate hearing your thoughts on the important issues facing Southwest Michigan. You can reach me at 517-373-6960 or SenKLaSata@senate.michigan.gov.
21st Century Skills Last week, I re-introduced two bills in the Michigan House. They both stem from concerns I’ve heard around the district that we need more and better access to Career and Technical Training (CTE) courses. These bills would give students more options to meet high school graduation requirements by including 21st century skills courses in the list of choices. These pieces of legislation are part of a package of four bills that work together to improve opportunities for students to learn new, 21st century skills in the classroom. My bills add the option for computer science or a Department approved career and technical education (CTE) program to count towards the current credits needed in a language or an art. The two other bills in the package, introduced by Representatives Howell and Hauck, similarly adjust graduation requirements for the math and health categories. For the math requirement, students would still be required to take Algebra I and Geometry, but would now have a choice between Algebra II, Statistics, and Financial Literacy for the third credit. The fourth bill would allow a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) training course to count towards the health requirement. Together these bills will give students the ability to better explore CTE career training and get a jump start on learning the skills they’ll need for the career they want. It’s important we give students who have different academic strengths or are not interested in the traditional four-year university track the ability to find the path that’s right for them. All four of these bills passed in the House last term, but did not come to a vote in the Senate. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to my office if I can ever be of assistance. You can reach my office toll free at 1-800-577-6212 or via email at BethGriffin@house.mi.gov.
National Nutrition Month Whether it’s starting the day off right with a healthy breakfast or fueling before an athletic event, the foods you choose can make a real difference. Preparing your foods to go further by planning meals and snacks in advance can also help reduce food loss and waste. March is National Nutrition Month, and this year the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics urges everyone to “Go Further with Food.” Preparing several meals on the weekends can provide balanced meals that can easily be reheated throughout the week. It’s also a great way to eat healthfully, save time during the week and reduce food waste. After you choose a day to prepare meals, decide which recipes you want to use and create a grocery list. When possible, choose meals made with ingredients you already have at home to get the most out of your food. To find a personalized plan that works best, consult a registered dietitian nutritionist. RDNs can provide sound, easy-to-follow nutrition advice to meet your lifestyle, preferences and health-related needs At the Berrien County Health Department, low-income women, infants, and children can find nutrition counseling and food assistance benefits as well as access to many health services through the Women, Infants, and Children program, also known as WIC. For over 40 years, the WIC Program has been providing nutrition education and counseling. Registered dietitians help families develop lifelong healthy eating habits through one-on-one counseling where they learn: What to eat during pregnancy and breastfeeding; how to feed infants and growing kids healthy foods; how to successfully breastfeed; shopping for healthy foods on a budget; how to cook healthy, delicious meals. To learn more about the WIC program or healthy eating through National Nutrition Month, contact the Berrien County Health Department at 269-926-7121 or www.bchdmi.org.
Bringing more responsibility back to the Congress Last week, I was proud to join a bipartisan group of colleagues to co-sponsor a resolution to amend the National Emergencies Act. The founding fathers designed Congress to be a co-equal branch with the Executive, and this resolution would begin to bring more responsibility back to the Congress, as the Constitution intended. Under this resolution, Congress would have to approve any new emergency declaration within 60 days – similar to the War Powers Act. Presidents would not be able to simply declare national emergencies without the concurrence of the Congress – no matter their political party and no matter the issue. To be clear, I support the President’s goal to fully secure our border. That is why, over the past two years, I have voted at least four times to provide the full funding he has requested for a border wall, and I voted for an immigration bill championed by the president, which would have provided $25 billion over five years to build a border wall. I stand ready to work with the president and my colleagues in Congress to fix our broken immigration system – in the way our founding fathers intended. To learn more about other important legislative issues, please visit my website: upton.house.gov or call my offices in Kalamazoo (269-385-0039), St. Joseph/ Benton Harbor (269-982-1986), or Washington, D.C. (202-225-3761).