Posts

Now through Valentine’s Day I’m highlighting how “gifting” an estate plan can show true love and commitment with the #PlanningForLove series. Of course, Valentine’s Day can be about celebrating many different types of love, not just romantic love. There’s adoration for your furry friend, love for your children, respect for yourself…but, it’s Super Bowl Sunday, so let’s focus on the love of the game! 

football estate plan

For two formidable teams (New England Patriots vs. Philadelphia Eagles), it’s the culmination of a season. (And for us, it’s a great excuse to indulge in all the best tailgating snacks.) It’s a grueling seven-month schedule with tons of variables from pre-season training camp to regular season kick-off to post-season play-offs.

Just like all the games leading up to the Super Bowl, a lot can happen throughout a lifetime. So many variables, so many strategies, upsets, and so many potential outcomes.

While it may be difficult to ponder the inevitably of your own timer running out, preparation for what happens after your season ends is indeed necessary.

The Main Players

Estate plan – An estate plan is the whole playbook, generally containing the following documents: your will; healthcare power of attorney; financial power of attorney; disposition of personal property; and final disposition of remains.

Will – A will is a superstar which can accomplish so much for your team. For example, who will quarterback the distribution of your property at the end of the game? You need to make certain the will is well drafted, solid, and can stand up in court. Keep in mind though, important assets such as retirement assets and investment accounts may well contain beneficiary designations that actually trump your will.

Health care power of attorney  & financial power of attorney – Don’t let a sudden disability completely take you out of the game. Have someone strong come off the bench to carry you to your personal goals.

Trust – You have lots of different options with this multi-tool MVP. A trust can help your team in so many different ways and provide you huge advantages in every facet of the game.

Get a Good Playbook!

Thorough planning is the best way to plan for the end of your season, so that you and your family are never caught unprepared. When you are no longer around to coach and care for the rest of your “team,” make sure they are both provided for and are provided training on how to keep pushing forward by settling your affairs. A comprehensive estate plan, written by an experienced estate planner, is the best way to do this.

No ‘I’ in Team

Your loved ones and close friends are all a part of your team; part of being a strong team player is including them on the plays you’re making. Discuss important aspects of your estate plan with the people it involves to avoid any confusion or conflict when it comes times for them to carry out your wishes. For instance, if you have minor children (under age 18) you’re going to want to establish legal guardianship if the worst happens and you’re no longer around to care for them. You’ll want to discuss with your chosen guardians ahead of time to make sure they’re willing and available to carry out the responsibility.

Lineup Adjustments

Pro football coaches switch up who’s starting for the best winning strategy. Similarly, you may well need to make adjustments to your estate plan “lineup” as things inevitably change over the course of your life. Big events like marriage, birth of a child/grandchild, moving to a different state, a large change in financial status, divorce, and other significant changes are good reason to review your designated representatives, beneficiaries, and overall goals.

Charity Factor

Pro football players make bank, but many also make significant contributions to charities they care about. Some NFL players have founded their own charitable foundation, while other focus on a few nonprofits whose missions they care deeply about. For instance, Chris Long, the Eagles defensive end, announced last fall he will donate his entire salary ($1 million) from the season to educational charities. Most players also work together as a team to give back to their communities. The league as a whole also supports building awareness for nonprofits though initiatives like “My Cause, My Cleats.”

Given their high profile sports status, these players also help inspire folks across the country to do the same. (In one great example, these football fans donated to NFL players’ favorite nonprofits!) You too can be a fierce philanthropist, but without actually having to sprint, throw, or sweat! You can include your favorite charities in your estate plan as beneficiaries. Then there are the other charitable giving tools that can be included as a part of your “end game” like charitable gift annuities and the charitable remainder trust.

Winning Score

I cannot predict who will win the Super Bowl today, but I can say without a doubt that you never know when the game is going to change. You never know when you (and/or your team members) are going to need any one of the documents a part of your estate plan. So, you need to have your “playbook” written out ASAP…well, you can wait until after the big game!

The best place to start on your estate plan is with my free, no obligation Estate Plan Questionnaire. You can also shoot me an email or give me a call at 515-371-6077 to discuss your situation (or football).

Fight for Iowa

Whatever you can do to a Buckeye—shellack, roast, soak, toast, chop, peel, finely ground, boil, crush, smash, cut, peel, and wait for it…a-salt—the Iowa Hawkeyes did last night in a stunning 55-24 rout of Ohio State. Iowa didn’t just beat the number three ranked team in the nation, they dominated the entire game from the very first play, and on both sides of the ball.

This was an epic win. It will last forever in Iowa Hawkeye football lore.

As the mission of Gordon Fischer Law Firm is to promote and maximize charitable giving in Iowa, I can’t help but think the smart and gritty play of the Hawks last night hold lessons for nonprofits too. Here are four:

Don’t Stop Believin’

If the Hawks went into the game without believing, truly believing, that they could win, well, it simply would have been a self-fulfilling prophecy. Whether you are trying to snag new donors, put into place some long-needed policies and procedures, get approval from the IRS to become a nonprofit – whatever your goal – you’ve got to start with a belief in yourself and your organization that you can match the mission to the moment.

Think Outside the Box

The Iowa Hawkeyes used two trick plays last night. There was a fake punt (from inside their own 20-yard line!) and also move called the Polecat Play. When facing a formidable opponent, or formidable goal, maybe the same-ole’, same ole’ won’t work. You may need to get creative.

Now, remember, for nonprofits, when you say, “think outside the box,” that box is essentially the IRS. So get good legal counsel to be sure you’re not being too creative and are in fact in full compliance with all laws and regs. But, the right kind of creativity is sometimes necessary when facing long odds.

Get Your Crowd into the Game

You need your fans for that extra juice—that extra bit of adrenaline. While you may not be able to fill Kinnick Stadium with supporters, you do have many folks who’ll help you in a wide variety of ways, and sometimes moral support and cheerleading is just what you need.

Iowa Hawkeye Fans

Take It One Play (Day) At a Time

The odds may seem insurmountable. For example, you’ve been trying to tackle the redo of your governing documents forever, and you just can’t ever seem to get there. Remember to take it a day/play at a time. Break it down.

Say you want to revise your general Independent Contractor Agreement, last looked at in the 1970s when Bob Commings was the Iowa Hawkeye football coach? Start with small steps. Something like this would be a good drill:

  • Distribute the aging document to the board of directors.
  • Explain why it needs updating.
  • Especially explain why your organization would work better with updated agreements, and/or what risks would be mitigated with updated agreements.
  • Form a committee to find competent counsel.
  • Hire a lawyer experienced in nonprofit law to look over and re draft.
  • Share the drafts back and forth between your lawyer and your committee until “perfect.”
  • Share the new Independent Contractor Agreement with the board of directors for final approval, and don’t forget to thank the board members who helped. And, be sure to celebrate reaching your goal!

Taking it one play at a time, suddenly revising major documents isn’t so overwhelming anymore.


I’d love to help coach your nonprofit to greater success. I offer a free one-hour consultation to anyone/everyone. Just email me at gordon@gordonfiscerlawfirm.com or call me on my cell at 515-371-6077. Together we’ll figure out a game plan that’s both sensible and affordable.

Football

This upcoming weekend college football fans in Iowa will all seem to converge in the annual colossal clash of Hawkeyes versus Cyclones. (It’s a tradition that dates back to 1977 and has been extended through 2023.) Even the University of Northern Iowa fans tend to take sides in this match-up that has the energy of a statewide holiday.

cyclones vs. hawkeyes

Talking tailgating and reviewing the predictions got me thinking that although this game is huge in the ongoing (usually fun) banter battle between Iowa and ISU fans (and coaches), it represents just a small part of the season. Both teams endure grueling pre-season training and both have a long regular season ahead of them, not even counting any playoff games. Plus, a lot can happen over the course of a football team’s season. Star players can get hurt, strategies can change, and unexpected variables get tossed into the mix. But, great coaches have solid plans in place for when the game changes.

And, that’s why if you can understand even the basics of football you can understand estate planning!

Just like every football season eventually comes to an end, your (hopefully long and healthy) season will also come to a close. When it does, you need a special kind of playbook for the rest of your team…AKA an estate plan. In this analogy an experienced lawyer is the great coach who is going to help you put plans in place for when the game changes unexpectedly or the stadium lights turn off for the last time. And, just like so much can change over the course of a season, a lot will happen over the course of your lifetime. That’s where annual reviews and revisions after significant events fit in.

football stadium

While it is often difficult for people to ponder their unavoidable exit off their own fictitious field, preparation for what happens after your season is over can be one of the most comforting aspects of financial and legal planning.

The Main Players

Let’s take this analogy a bit further and put some estate planning terms into football speak.

  1. Estate – An estate is the whole playbook, containing the following documents: your will; healthcare power of attorney; financial power of attorney; disposition of personal property; and final disposition of remains. (Go more in depth with this blog post.)
  1. Will – A will deals primarily with the distribution of assets and care for minor children. You need to make certain the will is well drafted, solid, and can stand up in court. Keep in mind though, important assets such as a life insurance policy payouts, retirement assets, and investment accounts may well contain beneficiary designations that trump your will.
  1. Trust – You have lots of different options with this player. A trust can dictate how your assets will be dispersed, the timeline and manner in which they are dispersed, and who’s overseeing the process.

Mid-Season Starting Lineup Adjustments

Just as a coach may switch up who’s starting partway through the season, you’ll may need to make adjustments to your estate plan as things inevitably change over the course of your life. Big events like marriage, birth of a child/grandchild, moving to a different state, a large change in financial status, divorce, and other significant changes are good reason to review your “playbook.”

No ‘I’ in Team

Your loved ones and close friends are all a part of your team; part of being a strong team player is including them on the plays you’re making. Discuss important aspects of your estate plan with the people it involves to avoid any confusion or conflict when it comes times for them to carry out your wishes. For instance, if you have minor children (under age 18) you’re going to want to establish legal guardianship if the worst happens and you’re no longer around to care for them. You’ll want to discuss with your chosen guardians ahead of time to make sure they’re willing and available to carry out the responsibility.

referee

Final Score

There are probably at least a few more good football analogies I could tie into the conversation of why you need an estate plan, but the most important takeaway is that you never know when the game is going to change. So, you need to have your “playbook” written out ASAP. The best place to start is with my free, no obligation Estate Plan Questionnaire. You can also shoot me an email or give me a call at 515-371-6077 to discuss your situation (or football).