As I look through photos on a recent family vacation filled with memories lots of family there friends people I hadn't seen in a long time, I can't help but reflect on how important it is to have an estate plan in place.
I know that sounds weird but hear me out.
Estate planning is so much more than just a piece of paper that you get from your lawyer and you put in a drawer. It's a gift we Leave Behind for our loved ones.
Ensuring that our wishes are honored, and our Legacy is protected. It's also an extremely valuable gift giving our loved ones instructions on exactly what you want to happen if you were to ever become incapacitated.
In my opinion after doing this for over 20 years, I believe that incapacity planning is the most important part of Estate Planning.
In a very close second place it's also about what happens to your assets. We can't forget about that. It is also about securing our assets providing for your children's future. Ensuring that your hard earned wealth is going to be distributed according to your wishes.
But it's not just about money.
Estate planning also involves making important decisions about health care. Appointing someone we trust to make medical decisions on our behalf when we are unable to do so. By planning ahead we can ease the burden on our loved ones during difficult times.
It's a way to protect them from unnecessary stress conflicts and confusion. If there's no plan in place they are going to start fighting with each other. In a lot of cases we have had situations where step children have taken the husband of 20 or 30 years to court. Usually because they don't like the health care steps the husband is making. How he's caring for his wife.
Maybe that was a decision that they made together that maybe that wife wanted to go into a nursing facility assisted living facility. She wanted to be protected at her home and cared for in her home.
Those are all decisions that if it's not on paper it can create conflict with family. Actually a lot of times end up in court costing thousands of dollars.
If the unfortunate were to happen right now and you were involved in some sort of accident that rendered you incapacitated for a few months or even for the rest of your life, what is your plan? What's your plan right now?
Let me say it this way:
If you knew, absolutely, that within one year you are going to be incapacitated for the rest of your life, do you want to be the one that makes plans? Makes the decisions on how you are going to be taken care of?
Would you rather your family and friends have to go down to the courthouse? Force them to get a guardianship from a judge that they probably never even met before and get permission just to take care of you on a daily basis?
If you don't make any plans for that incapacity in a year's time, what do you think your family is going to do?
What is their reaction going to be? Do you think they are going to fight with each other over your care? Do you think they have the money and the resources to take care of you on a daily basis? Do you have the money and resources to take care of you on a daily basis?
All of these are questions that go into your incapacity plan.
That is why I feel it's so important to have it in your revocable living trust centered estate plan. Get it in writing, ahead of time.
I'm not forgetting about your assets either. Those are very important.
After you pass away, how do you want your assets to be distributed to your beneficiaries?
When do you want them to receive their distribution?
These are all decisions you get to make if you have an estate plan in place.
WHY IS ESTATE PLANNING SO IMPORTANT?
There are many reasons why you may or may not want to leave a certain amount of inheritance to your kids and grandkids. Maybe some of your children are really good with money. You know that if you give them a lump sum of money they are going to take care of that money and it's going to be put to good use.
You also probably know that for some of your heirs if you give them ten dollars they're going to spend twenty dollars.
In your revocable living trust centered estate plan you can specify exactly how and when you want your inheritance to be distributed.