Families who plan for the future often focus on areas such as retirement planning, funding for college, and disability and life insurance to cover life’s unexpected events.
While these are very important, completing a formal estate plan with a will or living trust is also an important step in preparing for your future. A formal estate plan addresses what you would like to have happen with your assets when you are gone, as well as who will be in charge of handling your estate.
Additionally, documenting who will handle your financial affairs and health decisions while you are living, if you cannot do that yourself, is also an important part of your plan. If you have not completed your formal estate plan, we recommend you do so with an experienced estate planning attorney as soon as possible to protect your estate and your heirs.
9 Reasons People Avoid Creating An Estate Plan
- People may not understand the need to create a plan. Many think their assets will pass to the heirs of their choosing without considering family discord, tax implications, probate costs and other issues.
- People don’t know where to start, so they simply don’t start a plan. A good place to start is with a financial planner or estate attorney.
- Many families feel they don’t have enough assets for an estate plan, especially if they are upside down on their mortgage.
- Families may be in survival mode rather than planning mode given the current economic difficulties. The future can seem like a long way away when families are struggling to make ends meet.
- Procrastination – people know they need to create an estate plan but without a firm timeline, they continually put it off.
- Cohabitation – blended families with later in life marriages and multiple stepchildren add to the complexities and conflicts regarding planning.
- Denial – young people often don’t want to think about the inevitable, while many older individuals are reluctant to talk about their end of life wishes.
- To avoid conflict – many families end up arguing about end of life issues.
- Cost – during these tight times, it may seem like an added financial stress to create a good estate plan, but having a plan could save everyone involved from the greater losses that come from not having one.
FACT: Creating an estate plan typically takes 3 to 4 hours of your time, depending on your circumstances and estate complexity. By comparison, the average American watches 3 to 4 times as many hours of TV per week!
You may be able to relate to some of the reasons listed above. If you find yourself putting off your formal estate planning, we invite you to attend our upcoming seminar. Whether you need to create a plan or update your existing plan, the seminar should be helpful. Space will be limited so please RSVP today.
Writing a Post-Mortem Letter
Something most people do not include with their planning is a post-mortem letter, which once explained, can make sense to include as part of your overall planning documents.
A post-mortem letter written to your spouse, your children, or your successor trustee, spells out the location of your assets and property including deeds and pink slips, the names and contact information for all of your advisors, and any other information your spouse or successor trustee should know to minimize his or her burden during the stressful period following your death.
It can include instructions regarding your bill paying, and information about your sources of income, life insurance policies, safety deposit box, personal safe, and any consideration you would like to include if not already addressed in your formal estate documents such as your will, living trust or advanced health care directives.
Once completed, a post-mortem letter would likely add to your peace of mind. If you would like to discuss the creation of such a document, please let us know.
Give us a call for a complimentary consultation and we can talk about any questions you may have about your estate planning.