Most people have two versions of their ToDo List. The first version is filled with daily maintenance obligations – oil changes, bill paying, grocery shopping. This is the version that usually has the most completed tasks. The second ToDo List version is different. It may have aspirational items, like learning a new language, planting a garden or setting up an exercise regimen. Big picture goals would also be part of this ToDo list including creating an Estate Plan.
Whether you are 40 years old or 85 years old that second ToDo list can be a challenge to complete. Up until recently, the routine and momentum of an average day tended to push immediate needs to the forefront. We have not had average days in a while. One of the rare bright spots during this difficult period is the additional time to think about and work on long delayed big picture goals. For the loved ones in your life this is an opportunity to put together an estate plan. The two main questions to ask are: Who are the people in my life and what are the assets that I want to protect and pass on?
The people in your life can be spouses, children, grandchildren, siblings, other relatives, companions and friends. Assets include: Real Estate, financial accounts, stocks, bonds, motor vehicles and collectibles. An Estate Plan reflects the person who creates it. The simplicity of a Will may work well if a family gets along and there are no long-term illnesses. Trusts hold greater value to those people who have more complex financial or family dynamics or who anticipate ongoing health issues.
Aging loved ones have to contend with diminishments both small and great. Though their legacies have been cemented through decades of hard work and perseverance, the risk of not having an Estate Plan means that the sum of all that effort could be threatened. Sometimes, pushing one you love to act is the best present. Setting up an Estate Plan will allow a family to remain strong financially and emotionally. There can be pushback. “I don’t care what happens after I’m gone,” is a popular refrain. Another familiar phrase is, “Everything makes sense to me now, I don’t want to start making changes.” This type of logic is tried and true, but it is accompanied by the experiences of friends, neighbors and relatives who did not plan and faced unfortunate outcomes. Such reminders will soften even the most stubborn of family members.
If and when things will return to a vision of normalcy that we recognize remains to be seen We cannot plan for every rise and fall on life’s rollercoaster, but we can plan to wear a seat belt so we do not go flying out of our seat. Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today for more information on Estate Planning.