When people learn what I do for a living they often tell me, “I know I need to get an estate plan in place for my family.” When I hear that, I get excited. I talk to them about why planning is so important, just how easy it really can be, and all the cool things they can do to truly protect and provide for their family and pass on a lasting legacy.
I make myself available to guide them, answer their questions, and help them in any way I can – even if they don’t do their planning with me. I’m just thrilled to be a small part of their journey toward greater consciousness. Some, then, begin the planning process. Many, however, never follow through.
So even though they’ve said they “know,” I can only assume they don’t really get it. They must not understand the consequences for their loved ones if they fail to plan. They must not grasp the immense peace of mind and satisfaction a good plan will bring into their lives. They must not appreciate the fact it is not too late for them to plan now but that one day, it will be.
If you’ve already handled your planning, congratulations. You’re in the know. If you haven’t yet begun your planning, are you ready to make the shift between just saying you know and really, consciously, actively knowing? If so, then here’s what you need to know:
Will. If you’re an adult and you don’t have a will, if and when something happens to you, a judge decides who is in charge of your affairs and state law determines who receives everything you own. You lose all control. With a will, on the other hand, YOU appoint who’s in charge of things and YOU choose who gets your stuff.
Advance Medical Directive. Also known as a health care proxy, medical power of attorney, or living will, this document allows the person of your choosing to make healthcare decisions for you in case you become incapacitated and unable to make them for yourself. Plus, it also lets that person know HOW you want decisions to be made if you cannot make them for yourself. Without an Advance Medical Directive in place, your family could have their hands tied when it comes to ensuring you get the best care possible, in the way you would want.
Power of Attorney. In the event you cannot communicate, a power of attorney will allow your designated agent to quickly gain access to your financial accounts so they can pay your bills and manage your financial affairs. Without this in place, your family will face an expensive, long and public court process while your credit gets ruined.
Living Trust. If you own any property that would go through the probate process (a home, bank accounts, brokerage accounts, business assets, real estate investments, and other substantial assets), you’ll want to make sure to have a Trust set up as soon as possible so your family isn’t stuck dealing with an expensive, unnecessary, long, and totally public probate process in the event of your death. A revocable living trust puts the people you know, love and trust in control without even having to go to Court.
Kids Protection Plan. If you have minor children, you need a comprehensive set of documents to ensure they are taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what. Not just for the long-term, but also in the immediate term if something happens to you. Without this in place, strangers could gain temporary custody of your children and it would definitely be a stranger (a judge) who would determine who raises your children.
If you know you want to make things as easy for your family as possible then let’s do something about it. Call my office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk. Mention this article and there will be no charge for meeting with me. So don’t just say you know. Take action.
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