We make them with the best of intentions, New Year’s resolutions. At the end of the month up to 40% of us will resolve to accomplish something in 2020. Yet, not unsurprisingly, a mere 8% of us will actually keep those resolutions and succeed in our goals.
Some of the most important resolutions we will set center on family and money. Though estate planning doesn’t typically come to mind when you think “resolution,” a thoughtful plan can help you achieve your goals for both. By taking advantage of these simple planning tips, checking estate planning off of your “to-do” list may be the one resolution you actually keep this year.
Talking About it Won’t Kill You: Resolve to Take Action
The act of estate planning is ripe for procrastination since so few people understand it and- more commonly- so few people are inclined to contemplate their own demise. Yet, planning for the unthinkable remains the best thing you can do to protect your money, your health and your family.
“I have a Will, isn’t that a plan?”
It’s true, a Will is essential, chiefly because it names long-term guardians for your children (the people who will raise, love and care for your kids until they are adults) and details how and to whom you want your money and property distributed. However, all wills must be approved by the Probate Court and become public documents. Moreover, a Will is not a comprehensive estate plan.
Whether you have $5 dollars or $50 million, a Kids Protection Plan is critical if you have kids under the age of 18. A KPP is unique to our firm and ensures your children will be protected – no matter what.
If you own a home or have more than $25,000 in the bank or investments, life insurance or retirement accounts, you want to have a Living Trust in addition to your Will, which will keep all of your assets private and make it as easy as possible for your family manage. You can set up your trust to minimize state and federal estate taxes, and protect your kids’ inheritance from being lost to divorce, creditors and lawsuits.
It’s critical that while you are healthy, you name the people (Agents) you want to make health care and financial decisions for you if you become incapacitated. Make sure that your Health Care Proxy and Durable Power of Attorney has language that authorizes your agents to obtain full access to your medical records and finances, respectively.
How to Make Estate Planning the One Resolution you Keep
Quite simply: don’t wait, and don’t call it a resolution. You can begin this month to plan and check “estate planning” off of your to-do list before the New Year even arrives! Start by thinking about these three things.
- Consider your children. Estate planning helps you protect your children throughout their lifetimes. When they are young, you need a guardian if something should happen to you. When they are older, you want to have the financial capacity to send them to college. When you are gone, you want them to enjoy a legacy that includes passing on your values as well as your assets. Only estate planning can do this for you.
- Review beneficiary designations. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts and other financial vehicles all require you to complete a beneficiary form to designate who will receive the assets upon your death. With no form, state law will govern, and your assets may go to those you never intended, or worse, to your estate, to be depleted by taxation. Be sure you have beneficiary forms on file and that they are reviewed at least annually.
- Consider your own health. If you become incapacitated, who will be making your decisions for you? Do you want your life to be prolonged via life support no matter what? Whatever your wishes are, they won’t necessarily be followed unless you have executed a Living Will or assigned powers of attorney.
Make estate planning the one resolution you keep this year by getting it done before the new year is in full swing and those other resolutions, all made with the best of intentions, get forgotten. Call us at 978-263-6900 to schedule your Family Wealth Planning Session, today.