I will admit it: sometimes, it’s hard to follow through on all our good intentions. Whether you pick up a nice slice of cake on a tough day, guiltily savor a fizzy, sugary soda, or have to drop a coin in the curse jar, forgive yourself and don’t let the indiscretion put you off your good intentions. After all, we’re only human.
You probably know the line coming next. Whether you choose to maintain your good intentions or simply put them off until another day, you never know how much time you truly have left. This isn’t morbidity, but simply a fact of life. That’s why it is so important not to shirk the essentials when it comes to our loved ones–there is only so much time you have to procrastinate.
Take heart! Most people discover that drafting a solid estate plan to be not nearly so daunting once they have finally gotten down to it. What’s the secret? They realize the enormous benefits for them and their families that a well-considered estate plan can offer.
Just a Few of the Benefits of Estate Planning:
Control Your Health Care
As we live longer and longer, some are coming to find that their capacity to make decisions about their health care diminishes. If you would prefer to have the people in your life follow your healthcare wishes, consider documenting your preferences now. An Advance Healthcare Directive is a vital component of any estate plan, allowing you to firmly establish what you expect for your care.
One other advantage: you will even be able to designate a person to be responsible for your health care decisions when you are no longer able.
Safeguard Your Finances
Many people are simply unaware of the difficulty their families might endure in the event of their incapacitation. Should you be incapacitated, they will be entirely cut off from your finances until they pursue a conservatorship in court–a process replete with serious expense, a lengthy wait, and no small emotional trauma.
If your loved ones depend on you for hearth and home, give serious consideration to the assignment of a durable power of attorney. Specify an individual you trust to responsibly control your finances to spare your family any trouble they might avoid.
Prepare for Your Long-Term Care
Quality long-term care can be staggeringly costly–a burden you would rather keep from the shoulders of your family. As mentioned above, the lengthening of the average life span means that long-term care will be a necessity for more and more of us. You will want to protect what you’ve earned for your family If you should need long-term care–whether it be simply a once-a-week in-home assistant or a five-star eldercare facility–a good estate and insurance plan allows you create a system that will keep the most for your loved ones.
Maintain Familial Harmony
Little in life is as divisive as money. Handled poorly, it cuts through even the strongest family ties and leaves lasting acrimony between once loving siblings. If you want to save your family the drama of an inheritance fight, a good estate plan can ensure your assets are divided the way you know to be best, as well as naming the correct beneficiaries to retirement and bank accounts.
Getting Down to It
It is no surprise that so many people prefer to procrastinate on their estate planning–even for decades on end. Particularly for the relatively young, the contemplation of one’s own mortality is simply off-putting. We are never as immortal as we would like to think, so it is important that we overcome that aversion and make certain that our loved ones are prepared if the worst should arrive.
Here are 3 tips to get estate planning off your “to-do” list:
Think of Your Children
Particularly with young children who are not yet capable of providing for themselves, comprehensive estate planning will serve to protect them for the years without you. A kids protection plan can keep your kids out of child protective services in the immediate term if something should happen to you, and a guardian of your choice can be appointed to guide them safely to adulthood. And, when your kids are older, you might leave them the funds necessary to attend the college of their dreams. The difference between a good and a great estate plan is that the latter passes on more than mere assets; it passes your values and your encouragement and that may matter more than all the money in the world.
Update Your Beneficiary Designations
All your accounts–everything from investment, to retirement, to life insurance–require that you specify who will be their recipient following your death. If the beneficiary goes unnamed, your assets risk falling into the wrong hands (the exact distribution depends on state law), or at least being incorporated into your larger estate and subjected to taxation. Don’t forget to update these forms annually, as the circumstances of your chosen beneficiary may change significantly.
Give Thought to Your Wellbeing
Our health care decisions can often be matters of literal life or death–who will make the decisions that are right for you if you cannot? Do your wishes include the unconditional use of life support to prolong your life? Only a Health Care Directive can see to it that your desires are upheld.
If you have yet to craft an estate plan or simply have left your existing plan unupdated for a couple of years, commit to taking estate planning off your to-do list this year.
The best way to learn about estate planning for your family is to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you to provide for and protect the financial security of your loved ones. Schedule an appointment today by phone at 612-206-3701 or via our online contact form by clicking the button below.
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