Is it ever too late to create an estate plan?
Plan. Do you have an overall plan for your life? The dream job and how to achieve it. Your perfect home and family. Retirement, or work that dream job forever. Estate plans outline the end-game, your legacy, the gift of your life-long achievements. Who do you want to design your legacy, your life’s work? If you have any future days, it’s not too late.
Estate planning is not primarily about your death; that thought is based on an unfortunate popular myth. Your plan will affect your life and how you choose to live it.
Estate planning is about controlling your financial future and legacy, and your long-term healthcare decisions. The legal consequence for not keeping a documented plan in place is loss of capacity to implement these decisions.
Long-term Financial Planning
Have you purchased or thought about buying a house? By most definitions, this investment is based on long-term planning. Sure, uncontrollable variables over the next twenty years make this decision look better or worse; but as an investment, as a life plan, it makes sense to consider this option.
Estate planning feels like purchasing a house:
- Take inventory of current assets, incomes, retirement funds, and life insurance. Define your current financial situation.
- Decide how long you want to continue to work, if you want to take time to travel or stay at home with the kids, pursue a dream, or lead a more relaxed lifestyle. Budget accordingly.
- Do you want to distribute money to your adult children while you can hear a thank you? Do adult children have the ability to handle a large sum of money, or is income a better choice?
- Do you want a Trust Fund to handle distributions?
Taking these steps can range from kitchen table accounting to an estate attorney conference. As your plan and potential complications become more complex, your need for proper documentation grows. Your plan, not the attorney’s, memorialized in State-acceptable formats for correct implementation.
Long-term Health Planning
Estate planning considers your capacity to make health related choices.
- If unable to perform, who will pay your bills for you; who will access your accounts? Would you like to decide, or a court? Again, proper documentation resolves this issue.
- If unable to respond, who will decide about long-term life support? Who will decide for you? Answering these questions now while you can, puts you in charge with at least an outline for a decision. Plus, you decide who makes the final decision for you.
Organize Documents and Formalize Plan
The essence of estate planning: organize and formalize. Think about your potential health related choices and who you trust to carry out your wishes. Organize your financial documents, plan the path to meet your goals, and consider your financial legacy. Talk to an experienced, competent attorney about the legal aspects of your plan and helps document your wishes.