Estate Planning- Is It for Everyone?
Estate planning is not just for the rich and famous. Ask yourself this –
-Do you have now or have you had a spouse/partner?
-Do you have children or grandchildren?
-Are they under age 18?
-Are they adults that behave like children?
-Do you own your home?
-Do you own a vacation home or other real property?
-Do you have stocks, bonds or CD’s?
-Do you have a checking or savings account?
-Do you have a favorite charity?
-Do you have a family member with special needs?
-Do you have a favorite pet that will likely outlive you?
-Do you want your family/friends/favorite charity to receive something from you on your death?
If you answered “Yes” to any of these questions, you need an estate plan!
Think Ahead and Do Your Homework
Estate planning does not have to be difficult or expensive. If you meet with your estate planning attorney and have done your homework ahead of time, it can be a relatively painless process.And, be sure you are meeting with an attorney that specializes in estate planning. Your divorce attorney, tax attorney, or business attorney may not have the expertise necessary to create an estate plan that works for you. Just like you wouldn’t call your dermatologist if you break your leg, don’t call an attorney without experience to help you with estate planning.
- Before meeting with your attorney gather all of your financial information including prior Wills and Trust documents.
- Talk with your spouse or partner about your plans, thoughts and dreams for the future for yourself and your family.
- Consider who you would trust to serve as the personal representative of your estate and/or trustee of a trust.
- Also consider who you would want to make your financial and health care decisions if you were unable to do so.
The more you have thought about these items in advance, the easier the process will be.
Who Will Make Decision for You?
Everyone, regardless of whether they create an estate plan (Will and/or trust) should also have a durable power of attorney for finances, a durable power of attorney for healthcare, and an advanced health care directive.
Without out these, if you are injured or ill and unable to make decisions who would be able to access your banking information to pay the bills?
Who would be able to access retirement accounts, pensions, and/or investments?
Who would be able to manage or sell property for you?
Who would be able to talk to your doctors when you can’t?
Who would be able to help you navigate health insurance and prescriptions when you can’t?
And finally, who will decide when it’s time to stop life-saving measures for you? Do you even want life-saving measures started? Does your family know what you would want to have done or not done at the end of your life?
Don’t leave your family to guess or deal with the anguish of not knowing your wishes or of seeing your wishes not carried out. Plan ahead and make things easier for your family. Oh, and don’t forget to UPDATE your documents! Life changes, laws change, and estate planning documents often must change as well.
Click HERE to read an article to see Estate Planning blunders made by the rich and famous.