Director Prosperwell FinancialAsset advisor RJFS.
Estate planning is not something that most people get excited about. Nobody wants to think about what happens when we’re gone. Many people belong to the sandwich generation, who help their children on a daily basis and at the same time help their parents. I see it too often that one parent dies. No one had done any estate planning.
This is unfortunately a mess that we see all too often. No will, no care directive, no lasting power of attorney or trust. No one wants to die, but we all do, and we have to plan for it. It is necessary to do estate planning. Estate planning is not for us. Estate planning is for the loved ones we leave behind. It’s not fair to leave our messes for our beneficiaries while they are emotionally dealing with a loss. Because if you don’t have a plan, the state you live in generally has a plan for you. That plan is inheritance.
The state that has a plan for you is one that you may not like — one that can cause your heirs a lot of stress. That can take years, a lot of money and a lot of completely avoidable problems.
I had to update my confidence. My kids are older now and my life is more complicated, especially as an entrepreneur. It’s been a while since I updated my own estate planning. You want to get a will or a trust. If you already have one, it is always best to check in with your Estate Planning attorney every three years for edits and updates. It had been a little over three years, so I had some work to do.
At about the same time, I was working out my trust and estate plan. We had two different clients who had trust documents from relatives that I had to read.
Over the years I have read countless trust documents, countless divorce decrees, and many business documents.
This was the first time ever that I had two fully thought-out letters and documents expressing the authors’ wishes. In these letters are their wishes. One even listed the names of whom they wanted to be invited to their funeral. One shared passwords, codes, and how files and accounts were organized. The letters shared their legacy. These letters came from the heart. It’s not about the money. It’s about what and how we leave a legacy.
It inspired me to do the same. Not only did I update my confidence and update a “My Legacy” document, but I wrote two letters explaining my wishes. So that if something happened to me, things would be a little smoother for my kids and my administrators.
If you’re thinking about estate planning, now is the time to get creative. It’s your time to say what to do when you’re gone. If you have a business, you want a business succession plan. Who should the company go to? How and when sold? Who does this? On a personal level, you want to indicate what happens to your property, your investments, your stuff, etc. When it comes to your kids, you want to delegate someone to take care of your kids when you’re gone. I think it is absolutely necessary to put restrictions on the money that goes to your children. Like, my kids will receive money when they go to school, buy a house, get married, start a business or when they are 30, 40, 50, etc. I have also included the stipulation that they will only receive money if they have a Wealth Having Advisor – my 14 year old son’s idea. I love this idea and we will make sure our customers use it too.
Do not wait. Life is too short not to leave your legacy the way you want to leave a legacy.
All opinions are those of the author and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Statements of opinion are effective as of this date and are subject to change without notice. Raymond James and his advisors do not provide tax or legal advice. Discuss any tax or legal matters with the right professional.