Mississippi College

MC Hosts Estate Planning Seminar

September 28, 2007

As Baptist Healthplex regulars burned calories, 18 senior citizens gathered at the fitness facility for a crash course on the subject of estate planning.

Mississippi College professionals in the advancement arena teamed with a local attorney and certified public accountant Thursday to conduct the "Protecting Your Assets" seminar. The fall's event was the first in a series on the complex topic.

Questions about living wills and how an estate is structured were a few posed by participants, primarily retirees in the Jackson metropolitan area. Some at the seminar were members of the 50-year club at MC. They are proud alums who graduated from the Baptist college in Clinton at least a half-century ago.

There's never really a good time to sit down at the kitchen table and start conversations about estate planning, said Danny Rutland, MC's outgoing vice president for advancement. "You never know," he said. "It's like planting a seed."

Starting Monday, Rutland will go to work at Mississippi Baptist Health Systems Inc. in Jackson as their new vice president/chief development officer.

Others on the team of experts at the seminar on the Clinton campus included Maureen H. Scott, a Certified Public Accountant and senior manager with Horne LLP in Jackson. "I love working with seniors," said the Raymond resident. "They appreciate your advice and listen to what you are saying. So many have worked so hard to get where they are in life and want to pass it along to their heirs."

While conversations about estate planning with loved ones can be difficult, in the long run, said Scott, it will make life easier.

Experts say it's important for people to take time to sit down and put on paper such vital information as the value of one's assets and not procrastinate when it comes to crafting a will. There's no way to predict when a deadly accident will occur or when a serious medical problem will strike one's family.

The informative seminar on the MC campus also provided participants with answers to questions about tax-free gifts. The law allows a husband and wife, for instance, to each donate up to $12,000 annually to a child, for example.Such gifts are tax free. Previous limits were $10,000, then $11,000 annually.

Other experts on the panel offering advice to the Mississippi seniors included James K. Dossett, an attorney with the Baker Donelson Bearman Caldwell& Berkowitz firm in Jackson, and Thorne Butler, director of alumni and development with the Mississippi College School of Law.

Butler echoes the solid advice given by Dossett, who encourages people to write a will and check it once a year. "I'm going to check mine," Butler said.

Among other tips: people should have a professionally drawn will signed with at least two witnesses, Butler said. Those seeking a good lawyer to do the job can obtain three recommendations from Mississippi College.

Those missing this week's seminar will get another chance early next year. The next estate planning seminar hosted by Mississippi College is scheduled for Jan. 28.

Pictured: Maureen H. Scott, Certified Public Accountant and senior manager with Horne LLP in Jackson, was among the seminar's team of experts at the recent estate planning seminar.

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