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Estate planning discussed at Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club

Dan Ryel (left) of Gugino & Ryel Financial in Fredonia was invited as a guest presenter to the Aug. 13 Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club meeting by Sheila Chapman (right), club member. Ryel, who is a financial advisor, reviewed estate planning with Westfield-Mayville Rotarians and guests.

WESTFIELD — Estate planning benefits, main elements, key terms, and important considerations were reviewed during a program presented by Dan Ryel, financial advisor of Gugino & Ryel Financial in Fredonia, during the Aug. 13 meeting of the Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club at The Parkview in Westfield.

After serving in the U.S. Army and graduating from SUNY Fredonia in 1973, Ryel taught English at Westfield Academy and Central School before joining his mentor, the late Jim Blodgett with New England Life in Westfield. Ryel earned the professional designations of Chartered Life Underwriter and Chartered Financial Consultant. This is Ryel’s 42nd year as a financial advisor. To continue a strong presence in Western New York, Joseph L. Gugino, CFP, AIF, has joined Ryel, as has Sarah Muscato, Executive Assistant. Together they work to guide their clients to attain their financial goals.

“Who needs an estate plan?” Ryel asked. “Everyone does, no matter the size of the estate. A good estate plan includes a strategy to manage your financial affairs and health care decisions in the event that you are unable to do so. A plan is generally comprised of the three elements of the last will and testament, the durable power of attorney (POA), and a trust.” Ryel explained each of these.

He then offered some tips. Ryel stated, “Prior to death, establish a durable power of attorney to handle your financial affairs, if you were to become incapacitated. Without a durable POA, your family members would have to institute legal proceedings and request a probate court to appoint a guardian to carry out these responsibilities. It’s a good idea to back up your POA with a second person.”

Ryel said, “Get a health care proxy or health care POA, which authorizes someone to make health care decisions, if you are unable to do so. This document can also allow your wishes to be known about end-of-life decisions in the event that you are unable to communicate. The latter may be part of your health care POA document or an advanced medical directive, also known as a ‘living will.'”

He discussed the purpose of a trust in an estate plan. “A trust is a formal arrangement allowing the trustee to hold assets and then distribute them to your beneficiaries at the time that you direct in the trust document. The two basic types of trusts are a living trust or revocable trust, and a testamentary trust, which is created after your passing and your will is approved by the probate courts.”

Ryel stressed the importance of naming and updating beneficiaries on life insurance policies, investment accounts, and bank accounts. He added, “Name both primary and contingent or back up beneficiaries. Try to avoid going through probate, which is the legal process of administering a will or distributing property. The probate process may be costly and complex. With no formal estate plan, your survivors may not be able to access your assets until a personal administrator or guardian is appointed and the distribution plan is approved by the probate court. In some states, this process can last more than a year.”

“Power of attorney (POA) dies when you die. The executor of your estate then is in charge. Be wise about choosing an executor. Also, make a list and make sure the important people in your life know who gets what. Try to avoid the need for an estate sale. Make a list of things you do not want probated in a will. Make sure your will says what you want it to say, and redo your will, if your life has changed at all.”

In conclusion, Ryel asked, “Who needs an estate plan? Everyone needs it, no matter the size of the estate. It not only helps to carry out your wishes after your passing, but it benefits you while you are living.” The Westfield-Mayville Rotary Club thanks Dan Ryel for giving an informative program about estate planning. For more information, contact Ryel at 672-7121 or dan@gr14063.com.

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