We’ve heard that the first step is always the hardest, whether it’s getting married, starting a new job or closing a chapter in our lives. The same holds true with estate planning. We don’t know what to expect, how much it’s going to cost us, the real benefits of taking the plunge or even if we’re too young to even consider estate planning.
For years, we’ve encouraged our clients to think about their biggest fears in life. Are they worried about not leaving enough for loved ones? Perhaps the thought of an accident keeps them up at night? Maybe they’re concerned about who will care for their minor children should an illness cut their own lives short? Even then, it can be a bit challenging trying to get your mind around these important “what if” scenarios. With that in mind, we thought we’d provide tips that will encourage and inspire you to get the estate plan ball rolling.
Let’s face it, you very well may be on the verge of great things, millions of dollars in investments and enough life insurance to support ten families in your absence, but unless you’ve not put into place a few basic documents, you have no foundation. With no foundation, your family has an uncertain future. You can eliminate that with a Last Will and Testament, any necessary trusts and at least medical and financial powers of attorney. Once you have the basics down, the rest has a way of falling into place because you’re no longer focused on those basics and can consider “big picture” truths.
Take an Honest Look at Your Life
Your life, from the perspective of estate planning, requires honesty with yourself with a realistic understanding of your assets and liabilities. If you’re on the verge of bankruptcy, you have to face it and find a solution so that it’s not weighing you down ten years from now. Your financial planner or accountant can provide financial guidance and of course, your estate planning lawyer is always a great place to start as you begin to rebuild. Once you’ve faced the financial aspects, the rest of it isn’t so overwhelming.
Protecting the Little Ones
This is probably the one thing that causes a lot of lost sleep across the nation each night. Put into place trusted guardians for your minor children. Don’t assume they’ll “just go to my mom’s or my wife’s parents’” That may not always happen, at least not right away. Establish a guardianship with specifics on who will raise your children should something happen to you and your spouse. It’s a powerful sense of accomplishment knowing they’re going to be cared for. Once that’s in place, you’ll feel better about going into the details with trusts, your educational choices, financial considerations, etc.
Life Insurance for the Living
No one wants to think about insurance and certainly not life insurance, right? Why annihilate a perfectly good Saturday afternoon with a lawyer, hashing out financial considerations for insurance policies? Again, it goes back to feeling empowered. It’s just one more way you’ve covered the bases for your family should anything happen to you. And relax – it’s not going to take the entire afternoon.
Ultimately, small steps are best for many of our clients. And that’s OK. We’re all for the end results and once you get started, you’ll see the same advantages.
Want to learn more? Contact our team of professional estate planning lawyers today.