Like with many things in life, sometimes the most difficult aspect of estate planning is simply getting started. For years, we’ve encouraged our clients to consider their biggest life fears. Are they worried about not leaving enough for loved ones? Maybe they’re concerned about who will care for their minor children should an accident or 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 a few jumping off points that will encourage and inspire anyone to get the estate plan ball rolling.
Take an Honest Look at Your Truth
Your truth, as it pertains to estate planning is being honest with yourself about 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. Once you’ve faced the financial aspects, the rest of it isn’t so overwhelming.
Cover Your Little Ones
This is probably the one thing that causes a lot of lost sleep across the nation each night. Put into place 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.
Start at the Beginning of Your Estate Plan
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 (or ten families) 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.
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. Contact our estate planning lawyers today to learn more about estate planning.