Hold an Estate Planning Seminar
On your own, or together with other community groups and religious organizations, hold an Estate Planning seminar, open to the public. This could be a series of discussions; you might want to have a question and answer session with an informed panel. However you do it, you will provide a welcome service, and you will learn who is engaged in planning the ultimate use of their life estate.
Some people don't realize what comprises their accumulated life estate, and what is taxable and what is not. A taxable estate generally includes: residences and other real estate, securities and other investments, undistributed retirement plan benefits, bank accounts, business interests, airplanes, yachts, automobiles, recreational vehicles, furniture, art and other tangible personal property, as well as cash. Professional gift and estate planning counsel is recommended for anyone whose estate exceeds $675,000, when federal estate taxes kick in and may significantly erode someone's legacy. The threshold is climbing and will reach $1 million in 2006.
Seminar topics should include issues people face in planning for their senior years, such as the basics about probate and why everyone needs a Will, what they need to know before they sit down with an attorney to draft their Will, federal and state estate taxes, revocable trusts, living wills, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security benefits, extended health care, powers of attorney.
Invite professionals to serve on a panel or to make presentations. Tell them that they are invited to provide their expertise in service to the community, and NOT to solicit business. Try to find an attorney who specializes in estate planning, an insurance agent, a planned giving officer from nearby University or public charity, and a representative of your religious community and its planned giving program.