Estate planning attorneys, accountants and other wealth industry professionals, though most good at their specialty, have a tendency to only address what we categorize as the “business side” of estate planning for their clients. Unfortunately for the client, the scope of that approach is much too narrow.

While the business of high net worth is often the most important for the owner, there are four other areas for estate maximization that also exist. Know that all five of the dimensions (especially 1-4) must be addressed before you, and those you care about, can feel secure and safe.

Here’s the big picture…

It’s the business of many, including Kubler Financial, to position and mitigate your assets from the teeth of the U.S. Federal 40% estate tax rate, to design thoughtful, effective wills and trusts, deliver and administer creative uses of life insurance and premium financing, help with beneficiary decision-making, arrange for lawful gifting tax exemptions, deliver other estate transfer vehicles and arrangements, and more…

why most estate plans fail, estate plan disaster, Kubler Financial, Jon Kubler, Estate Maximization
why most estate plans fail, estate plan disaster, Kubler Financial, Jon Kubler, Estate Maximization

But estate strategy development should not end there. When it does, which is often, the byproduct is extraordinary levels of vulnerability for the estate owner, the owner’s family, and the assets themselves. If your strategy doesn’t consider each of the five dimensions (especially 1-4), then you’re probably executing a sure-to-fail estate strategy.

It’s far from complicated, but lack of attention to the big picture causes catastrophic outcomes. It’s why most estate plans fail. If there’s one thing more important than the money, the assets and affluence itself, it’s understanding and adjusting for the array of wide-ranging effects that wealth creates.

As fervent as you are about managing and defending the measurable worth of your assets, it should also be high on your list to maximize the overall effects of your wealth. Collectively, this is how The Five Dimensions For Estate Maximization cures problems and accomplishes desired results. Certainly there is no discussion without the wealth, but the reality is that the effects and consequences of it, if not properly accounted for, will likely produce disastrous aftermaths.

Google: “estate plan disaster” for examples of common tragedies.

All different, yet extremely costly estate plan problems that would’ve been relatively easy to avert if properly handled prior to the owner’s passing. The list of lost legacies is long – some associated with household names, but most are not – and continues to grow unnecessarily.

It is my personal desire, and the mission of the Kubler Financial team, to make people aware that costly omissions likely exist in their current plan and deliver the strategy that enables you to direct and transition your assets in the most flawless way possible; to create successful family missions of wealth stewardship and a legacy of well-being for at least two generations after you, and longer if you desire.

Our clients receive the benefits of our knowledge and wisdom for each of the five dimensions for estate maximization. I am 100% confident that you too will gain from reviewing and committing to each of these.

These are “The Five Dimensions For Estate Maximization”:

1)  The ‘Business’ Side

Origination and implementation of a solid strategy for your estate that protects and increases the bottom line net worth of your collective holdings; so your accumulated assets, one day to be passed on to your family, other heirs, to trusts, charity or various combinations, reflects the absolute largest valuation possible. It includes anticipation and preparation for what happens after the wealth owner passes with regards to estate taxes, avoiding probate and other unnecessary legal expenses, wills, trusts, insurance, working with the IRS, etc.

2)  Human Being & Emotional Elements

Often the most disastrous of all, this is an area where unintended, but emotionally severe consequences are widespread. Understanding, empathizing with and addressing your family’s dynamics and individuals regarding mindsets about affluence, feelings, levels of control, relationships with each other, the sibling rivalries, keeping the family together and alleviating the potential for personal suffering, agony, depression, other forms of devastation and even abandonment by members due to an estate plan’s lack of forethought. People themselves, their personalities, characters and value systems (low levels of integrity, loyalty, honesty, etc.) are a large cause for complications. Poorly thought-out estate plans provoke incredible levels of emotional suffering. An ability for you to anticipate this dimension as a future problem area is key.

3)  Preparing Family Members & Other Heirs

The readiness level of family heirs determines much regarding the future of the estate and the fabric of the family itself. Has the long term mission with key players truly understanding what’s ahead, with roles defined and a strategy developed to accommodate it been developed and currently in progress? Is that important to you? To keep it in the family with members who have the aptitude and are prepared to properly manage it all when the time comes?

4)  Wealth Succession – ‘Keep It In The Family’

Long-term succession success can occur when most members share the values and attitudes that correspond with ambitions for that. Families must employ sound communications, espouse financial literacy  and positive mindset development about money within and throughout the family, inheritance and prudent decision making skills regarding wealth transitions. Do you want your grandchildren to receive some of the fruits from your life’s great work? Is developing that kind of a legacy of important for you?

5)  Philanthropic Desires

Philanthropy is the most discretionary of the five dimensions, but most of our clients have discovered great satisfactions associated with giving to charitable causes. Almost all donate or have created family foundations and have developed strong personal relationships between wealth, family, philanthropy and spirituality. In addition to being pleasurable and empowering, it also helps reinforce and remind givers that money usually carries its burden with it and can harm or unsettle the recipient if given without the right amount of caution.

Why is this important to you?

The estate planning industry is failing its clients, and has been since its invention. It’s a global crisis, but not because of what you might think. The industry’s failure isn’t due to rampant incompetence or ill repute, but is due to the professionals taking a much too narrow view of matters. Naturally, this allows for oversights and omissions. Certainly, there are complexities associated within each of the five dimensions, but details don’t create the quandary. Lack of consideration of all of the critical elements is the problem!

The information on this page is important so you don’t become part of the:

• 70% of the wealthy who’s estates transitions fail; meaning involuntary loss of assets. The so-called plan comes unglued, then collapses.

• Or of the 70% of the high net worth families, whose money is entirely spent, or lost otherwise, before the end of the second generation.

• Which by the end of the third generation, 90% of families no longer have their wealth.

A dismal 10% success rate.

I encourage you to think about the information contained on this page and how it relates to your own situation. The statistics mentioned above are real and have confounded the estate planning industry forever.

Please use the ‘Five Dimensions For Estate Maximization‘ as a checklist and a guide, then ask yourself if any or all of them are being overlooked in your estate plan and overall family strategy.

Treat the few moments it takes to review this page as an important time for yourself. I would suggest that you read it more than once. Know that after you have adequately addressed each of the five dimensions, then you can feel safe that your estate is truly maximized.

I’m easy to reach and look forward to sharing more about estate maximization with you.

Keep it in your family…  

why estate plans fail, estate plan disaster, Kubler Financial, Jon Kubler, Estate Maximization
why estate plans fail, estate plan disaster, Kubler Financial, Jon Kubler, Estate Maximization


Jon Kubler, President

Kubler Financial
448 S. Hill St., Ste. 801
Los Angeles, CA 90013
Phone: 844-880-7200
Email: jkubler@kublerfi.com

P.S. It’s a statistical and historically proven fact that seventy percent (70%) of all estate transitions lose control of assets, and by the end of the third generation, 90% of families no longer have their wealth.

There is no good reason to be a member of these groups!


Digital Assets to Include in Your Estate Planning

Digital Assets to Include in Your Estate Planning

Not too long ago, Americans wouldn’t even consider including their online assets in their estate plans. Today, however, families and individuals would be making a big mistake not to include thorough plans for how their digital assets are managed after their death.

In this modern age, we conduct more and more of our financial, work, social, and creative activities on computers and the internet. We store a huge amount of information on the web, from our personal files and documents to banking information to our Facebook accounts. Online assets are as valuable as our other property and financial information—in fact, studies have found that the average person today has more than $54,000 worth of digital assets stored on the web and computers. According to the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators, state treasurers have more than $32 billion in unclaimed bank accounts and other online assets.

What will happen to your digital assets after you die? If you want your online financial accounts, commercial accounts, and social media accounts to be left in the hands of someone you trust, it’s highly advisable to include your digital assets in your estate plan. Below, we’ve included a step-by-step guide to creating an estate plan for your digital assets.

Step One: Determining Your Digital Assets

First, make a list of all your digital assets. This could include computing hardware such as computers, flash drives, smart phones, and cameras. Include your online accounts, such as email accounts, social media accounts, online storage accounts, and bank accounts. After compiling a list, your attorney can help you to store login and password information in a safe place, along with information describing where computers and smart phones are located.

Florida Estate Planning Lawyer
Step Two: Determining How These Assets Should Be Handled

Depending on the type of account and your own personal preferences, you may want some accounts to be archived and saved, or deleted and erased. Others, you may want to transfer into the hands of family, friends, and trusted associates. Your estate planning attorney can help you determine an appropriate method for handling each asset in a way that accommodates your wishes, and assist you in documenting instructions for your digital executor.

Step Three: Choose a Digital Executor

You should choose someone you trust to designate as your digital executor. This person will be in charge of carrying out your wishes pertaining to the management of your digital assets.

Step Four: Store the Information with Your Attorney

It’s important to store the sensitive, valuable information outlined in your estate plane in the hands of a trusted attorney. Tell your digital executor or someone you trust about the plan so they are aware of its existence, and give them the name of your attorney so they know where to find it in the event of your death.

If you own a computer and use the internet regularly, there’s a good chance that you have quite a bit of important information and assets stored online. After you die, you’ll leave behind a digital legacy accumulated over your entire lifetime. To reduce stress and confusion for your survivors during a difficult time and ensure your wishes are fulfilled, you should update or create an estate plan for your digital assets. To begin, contact a skilled estate planning attorney at WintTer & Associates, P.A., who will be able to guide you through the process and safeguard important information until the time comes to release it to your designated beneficiaries.

Social Media: Planning Your Digital Estate

Social Media: Planning Your Digital Estate

Have your done your digital estate planning?

This was the subject of a recent Smart Company article, titled The business of digital life and death.” According to the article, some 70% of 65-74 year-old Americans are on Facebook, and there are 30 million accounts belonging to folks no longer alive. Not surprisingly, a growing concern among those wishing to properly manage their estate is making proper plans in the event of “digital” death.

The notion of digital death raises questions like what is an “asset” or a “special relationship,” let alone how to balance privacy and security with passing on relevant information. The article cites several factors to consider when dealing with digital assets. For example, there are no international standards on digital assets or for how to address them via estate planning.

Again, social media has not been a burning issue in estate planning as of yet. On the other hand, as younger generations begin to plan for the future, then it will become more relevant for them as they already are prolific users (owners?) of digital assets. How many more with the have over their lifetimes?

It seems every social media platform has a different approach to dealing with the death of one of its users.

Take Facebook, for instance. It protects the privacy of the deceased by securing the account and permitting a family member to request the account be removed or memorialized. In an attempt to balance sharing and privacy, Facebook has introduced a Look Back feature that can create a video of favorite moments that may be viewed but not shared.

For its part, Twitter is open to dealing with an immediate family member or estate representative to deactivate an account. Google developed an “inactive” account manager. This gives an individual access to your Google account if you die. In addition, it allows you set up a deadline in the event you do not use your Google account for a period of time. If that deadline passes without account activity, then Google will notify and allow your designated inactive account manager to access select parts of your account.

In an attempt to prevent illicit use of real accounts, social media platforms are typically moving to policies that validate family members with certified copies of death certificates, so a loved one can account for those assets and close the account.

Despite clear instructions and policies about digital closure, the original article warns that it can be a laborious task. Work with your estate planning attorney to get the most up-to-date information on digital assets and how to coordinate them with your estate planning documents. In the very least, leave an up-to-date list of accounts and passwords for your estate representatives … and let them know where you keep the list.

Remember: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” When making your financial, tax and estate plans, do not go it alone. Be sure to engage competent professional counsel.

Is Your Digital Life Ready for Your Death?

Don’t take PINs and passwords to your grave

A brush with a scammer spurred Kieran Clifford to write down his passwords and give them to his daughter. Photo: Brandon Thibodeaux/New York Time

Bob Ginsberg, a retired production manager for an educational publisher, is worried that he does not know any of the logins and passwords for online accounts belonging to his partner or brother and they do not know his. At 72, he said his concern was not about Facebook or email. It was for their financial lives, which have migrated online, making paper account statements anachronistic. Now, when people die without disclosing their financial affairs to anyone, there is often no paper trail for heirs to follow.

More from Money on planning for the end

“You’d never know someone else’s financial arrangements, but if it was paperwork you’d have a clue,” Mr Ginsberg said.

“I’m entirely comfortable doing absolutely everything online. But if I have to take over for my brother or my partner, I don’t have any of their information.”

In its annual Wealth and Worth study, released last month, private bank US Trust said 45 per cent of the high-net-worth people it polled had not organised passwords and account information for their digital lives in a place where heirs or an executor would find them. (By contrast, the bank said that 87 per cent knew the location of important documents and most had a will.)

Much has been written about how family members struggle to get access to the email and social network accounts of loved ones who have died. They have sentimental value much the way photo albums and personal letters do. But far less attention has been paid to the logins, passwords and answers to security questions that will give access to an online financial life. In an era when far fewer records are kept on paper, spouses and children may not even know that some accounts exist. Think of savings accounts that are only online, or a rollover retirement account that hasn’t been touched in years.

“It’s not only something that needs to be addressed with an individual dying,” Chris Heilmann, chief fiduciary executive at US Trust, said. “If an individual becomes incapacitated, people typically plan for someone to have a durable power of attorney so someone can step in and handle your affairs. But now you’re finding the attorney has to deal with your digital issues. They have to access your computer; they have to pay bills for you.”

Safe deposit

Sharing the combination of letters or numbers that give access to a person’s most important financial details is turning out to be a lot harder than telling loved ones that everything they need to know is in a safe deposit box. What can people do?

There are many websites and tools that allow people to upload their accounts and passwords in so-called digital vaults. They promise security and a one-stop shop for disparate digital lives. But they often go unused — just as there are a lot of lawyers around but not everyone has an estate plan. People need to record their account information and passwords just as they need to make an appointment to draw up a will. And that seems to be the problem.

Joel Feldman, a retired garment manufacturer, said he had an estate plan but he had been reluctant to write down all of his logins and passwords and give them to his son. He also does not use a financial adviser, who would know some of that information.

“It does concern me,” Mr Feldman said. “I keep saying I’m going to make a CD of my bank statements and put it in my safe deposit box, but I don’t do it.” He said he figured that his son could probably find everything on his computer. One reason people say they put off drawing up a list is that passwords are constantly changing. But that doesn’t seem to be the reality for many in retirement now.

Mr Feldman said he has only two or three different passwords because he would forget more than that. Kieran Clifford, a retired vice president for finance from Lucent, said the password to his Gmail account was recently stolen. By combing through past emails, the hacker found a Fidelity statement, got the account number, and emailed his broker at a separate firm to transfer $250,000 to a bank in Hong Kong. Everything had the same password — his initials and date of birth.

“The email said I’m going out to a meeting and you won’t be able to contact me so go ahead and do the transfer,” Mr Clifford said. Fortunately, his financial adviser called him before doing anything, and they now have an agreement that any move must be confirmed by phone. Like many things, it sometimes takes a scare to get people to act.

After the incident, Mr Clifford, 65, said he wrote down his passwords and gave them to his daughter. What remains to be seen is how vigilant he will be in keeping his passwords different from each other and updating the list his daughter has. For people who are not highly organised and pragmatic about their estate plans – and that is most people – it seems that short of a crisis they need a persistent adviser to push them.

Digital plans

Mr Heilmann said that when his firm reviewed traditional estate plans with clients it got them to draw up digital plans as well. This is where wealthier people have a leg up: someone else to do the kind of boring data entry that few of us want to do.

Mr Heilmann said people needed to think about five things to ensure that everything goes smoothly with their digital financial lives if they become incapacitated or die: they need to maintain a list of their digital information; send the information to someone they trust; make sure other people know who has the information; leave instructions for how everything should be handled; and note all of this in an estate plan and update it regularly. While time-consuming, this advice is straightforward. But advisers said that for many who are considering these steps, another issue arises: a fear that someone else has access to their financial life.

Louise Gunderson, a managing director at UBS wealth management, said she encouraged clients to upload their information to a secure system that allowed whoever they designated to see the account information but not to move the funds. “We come up with a solution, but it depends on who acts on it,” she said. “Some parents say, ‘I don’t want my kids to know anything.”‘

For the less wealthy, whose children need to know everything to care for them, advisers warn the children not to use the passwords to log into accounts as their parents. Doug Lockwood, president of Hefty Wealth Partners, said that to have any legal standing – and to ensure that other relatives don’t accuse them of wrongdoing – caregivers needed to have a power of attorney while their parents were alive and to know the rules when they die.

“I get calls asking, ‘If I have online access, am I allowed to trade?”‘ he said. “I say, ‘Absolutely not.’ As the executor, you would be in violation of all kinds of rules.” As for people who do not get around to organising their digital accounts, Mr Heilmann said it would cost heirs additional money, time and anguish.

“We may know this person is receiving certain statements digitally from financial providers,” he said. “Now the executor has to go to those institutions with a death certificate and certain court appointment papers. It’s not easy and it’s not fun.”

Mr Ginsberg said a hard drive that crashed recently had financial data for his accounts and those of his 96-year-old aunt, whose affairs he manages. He said at first he could not remember her login information for an online-only savings account he had set up for her.

“I knew nothing about the account other than its URL,” he said. “I thought, what was I going to do?” That highlights one warning that advisers give: Do not go totally paperless, however tempting it may be. But even that scare was not enough to prompt Mr Ginsberg to ask his partner and brother for their digital financial information. “I’m not really that comfortable saying ‘I want to have all your financial information in case you die,”‘ he said. The alternative, of course, is to try to piece everything together after they’re gone.

Digital Estate Planning

Digital Estate Planning

By Ryan Johnson, IT Director

A news story circulated not too long ago about a lawsuit brought by Bruce Willis against Apple involving the star’s right to transfer ownership of his vast iTunes collection to his heirs when he dies. Though the story was ultimately debunked by his representatives, it raised an interesting dilemma surrounding the ownership of digital assets and the transferability of those assets posthumously.

In our increasingly digital world there is a greater need to protect the digital assets we amass over time. Digital content can be any information that is published or distributed in a digital form, including data, photographs, images, text, sound recordings, images, video, or software. Digital assets include this type of content along with one’s online persona (including passwords to and content on social media sites). Currently, there are only five states that have laws governing digital estate planning.[1] As a result, an overwhelming majority of jurisdictions lack any direct statutory guidelines governing digital asset bequeathment, leaving loved ones in a vast gray area of the law. So while traditional estate planning plays a major role in protecting both tangible and intangible assets alike, the law has been slow to evolve with emerging technology.

Traditional Estate Planning

Essentially, one’s estate amounts to anything a person owns, tangible or intangible. Traditional estates are defined as a person’s interest in land or other property and consists of items that are owned and have value.[2] As such, traditional estate planning primarily involves a three-step process to posthumously dispose of property: (1) a consultation to consider an individual’s present and lifetime needs, (2) a thorough plan designed around meeting those needs during the client’s lifetime, and (3) the creation of a unified estate plan that balances the client’s needs during his/her lifetime with the needs of his/her estate after death.[3] Our increasingly digital world has added complexity to this process by creating a whole new class of digital assets that traditional estate planning tools may not be equipped to handle.

Digital Estate Planning

Digital estate planning has other benefits beyond the ability to successfully transfer digital assets to your heirs. It also makes life easier for the estate’s executor and family members, impedes identify theft, protects the decedent’s intellectual property interests, and preserves a decedent’s digital legacy.[4]

Currently, there is no uniform standard to bequeath one’s digital estate, however digital estate planning can be something as simple executory guidelines to one’s executor listing important URLs, usernames, passwords, security codes, and other information needed to access online accounts.[5] Among the most common digital assets are licenses, which are fully transferable within a trust. To facilitate such transfers, author Joseph M. Metrek suggests providing clients with a “Digital Asset Revocable Trust” (DART).[6] Essentially, the DART, like a traditional trust, will retain ownership of digital assets beyond the life of the grantor. Consequently, a trustee would have the authority to manage and transfer authorized licensing agreements to a client’s heirs based on the needs established when the estate was created.

In addition, an executor or fiduciary can mitigate the amount of personal hardship and grievance associated with digital estate planning by following a simple set of guidelines.[7] Experts recommend that fiduciaries implement the following crucial steps when administering a decedent’s digital estate:

  • “Seek the assistance of technical help if necessary.
  • Work on consolidating virtual assets to as few “platforms” as possible (e.g. have multiple e-mail accounts set to forward to a single e-mail account.
  • Obtain statements (or data) of the prior twelve months of the decedent‘s important financial accounts.
  • Consider notifying the [individuals] in the decedent‘s e-mail contact list and other social media contacts.
  • Change passwords to those that the fiduciary can control (and remember).
  • Keep all accounts open for at least a period of time to make sure all relevant or valuable information has been saved and all vendors or other business contacts have been appropriately notified, and so all payables can be paid and accounts receivable have been collected.
  • Remove all private and/or personal data from online shopping accounts (or close them as soon as reasonably possible).
  • The fiduciary should plan on archiving important electronic data for the full duration of the relevant statutes of limitations.”[8]


Sadly, many will not implement traditional or digital estate plans, leaving their loved ones to sort out unfinished details of their lives. Estate planning traditionally has been a service primarily utilized by the elderly, however increasing awareness among tech savvy clients can reduce the ambivalence towards estate planning.  Essentially, digital content owners face two distinct issues; (1) whether they really own their online digital content and if so, (2) how they can pass that ownership or the use of that content on to their loved ones. One thing is for certain – without digital estate mechanisms,  such as DARTs or executory guidelines, even Bruce Willis would not be able to ensure his loved ones were legally entitled to his vast collection of blues albums.