Who are the Important People in your life? Beginning with yourself, they also likely include your loved ones: your spouse if you are married, children and grandchildren if you have any, perhaps your parents, siblings or other relatives. Beyond these, "Important People" could also include charities, special causes, colleges or universities, or churches to which you are committed. For some, "Important People" could even include pets. Spend some time thinking about the impact others have had on your life. Make a list and jot notes if you like. This is where the planning process truly begins.
By Property we mean your assets in general. Make a list of the assets you own or control. At this point, you do not need to identify insurance policy numbers and exact dollar values. Instead, think through your assets in terms of their nature (cash, stocks, bonds, real estate, etc.); their value in thousands of dollars; and your ownership interest (ie. Do you own assets in your name alone, in joint tenancy with someone else, through a trust agreement/instrument or some other arrangement? Be sure to include often-overlooked assets like life insurance (the death benefit, not the cash value), business interests, and any inheritance you may expect to receive.
After identifying the Important people in your life and your Property, the next step is to consider the plans you would make for those people (including yourself) and that Property in the event of your own incapacity or death.
Who would you name to make decisions for you if you could no longer do so yourself? Would the same person handle your finances and your personal health care decisions? Who would care for your minor children? How would you distribute your assets to your heirs? Would you prefer to spare your family the potential cost and hassles of the probate process? Would you like to minimize the impact of estate taxes ... or maximize the impact of a charitable bequest? Is there someone in your family with special needs for whom you would like to provide? Is there someone who perhaps should not receive a great deal of (or any) money without some oversight?
These are just a few of the issues to consider when approaching the planning process. Proper planning and implementation of an effective estate plan ensures that your family knows what your wishes are, and stops them from having to guess what you want or would have done during these difficult times.
Let'f face it, these issues are hard to talk about and most of us would rather avoid them altogether if we can. But is that really fair to your loved ones? When you are ready to schedule a consultation, please call us or complete the Request a Complimentary Consultation form and we will give you a call to schedule an appointment.