“The difference between having an estate plan and not is the same between leaving a legacy or a mess”
When we get older there are so many concerns we begin to develop about the future, and objectives that we still hope to accomplish. Whether it be professionally, academically, or financially. We go to school to get an education that will hopefully yield a good job and provide enough money to live a comfortable lifestyle. All the while, through life there are items that people are aware of but put on their “to-do” list and yet may never accomplish.
Once one finishes college or a higher degree of study some of their stresses may involve getting a job with a respectable salary, paying off their student debt, getting married, and starting a family. It almost seems like life goes from “0-60 mph in 2.3 seconds”. At certain intervals of one’s career or hitting certain milestones in their life it is always a worthy idea to stop, and review that “to-do list”. This provides a level of accountability and course of accomplishing goals.
One of the few things that may tend to be on a list of young professionals could be items such as saving for a house, opening a retirement account, or establishing a budget that allows them to live within their means.
Alternatively, for those that are at a stage where they may be married and possibly have children, additional items which might be considered are things such as, getting insurance coverage and establish their estate planning. At bare minimum this could be just having a will. Additional items might be necessary depending on circumstances, but the objective is to ensure that in the event of a premature death the surviving spouse and the family won’t be left to guessing what the wishes of the parent that passed away might be.
When it comes to estate planning items, it is best to work with a lawyer that is well versed in this area of law, who may recommend a couple to establish advance healthcare directives, power-of-attorney, and trusts for the children. Each of these documents have a prudent role in their overall estate planning efforts. The rationale is to provide a written agenda for what should be done in circumstances that involve one spouse becoming incapacitated or passes away. Establishing trusts might be a useful tool to protect or “shield” assets for the benefit of family members1.
I would anticipate that many professionals have encountered situations where clients have had successful careers, grew their investment portfolio nicely, all the while neglecting to take care of their estate planning. I would expect, if people were asked what they anticipate their spouse’s wishes might be, how many would know precisely what they are when it’s not in writing?
The conversations about these topics might be emotionally taxing in nature, but once it’s written it provides a set or orders of what to do if one’s husband or wife cannot speak for themselves or worst was a vegetative state, and doctors didn’t know what type of care to administer. If couples are unaware of how to initiate a conversation or know where to begin this planning process it would be advised to meet with a lawyer who can best address any concerns or answer very specific estate planning questions.
To establish any sort of plan is not only meant for the upper-wealth class, it is meant for everyone. The delay in this part of the planning process may lead a family into a state of confusion and duress while that moment may already be emotional suffering from a loss.
- It is recommended to consult an attorney for establishing a suitable estate plan. All scenarios may differ based on circumstances and objectives.
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