Most of you have put some thought into your goals for 2019. I am confident
that “drafting an estate plan” did not make the list. People
put off planning for many reasons. For instance, many believe they do
not have an “estate” or that nothing will happen to them.
Some people think that everything will automatically go to their spouse
or to their children. Others just do not like to think about death or
have not found the time. Sound familiar?
There are many misconceptions about who will take over if you become incapacitated
and about how your assets will be distributed when you die. The fact is,
there are laws that dictate what happens in these situations and judges
who make decisions about highly personal situations for individuals and
for families about whom they know nothing. If you had control, you would
likely want to make such decisions for yourself. You can have control
if you have a well drafted estate plan.
Here are some “What ifs” for you to consider:
What if you become sick or are in an accident and cannot make your own
medical decisions, handle your finances, or care for your family? What
will happen in these situations?
What if you are in a car accident and the babysitter does not know who
to call? After hours of not hearing from you, the sitter calls the police.
If there is no Temporary Guardianship in place, your children will be
brought to temporary foster care until the police can locate a family member.
What if something tragic happens? Have you thought about who you want to
raise your children? Would you want a judge to make this decision?
What if you have a blended family or are on a second marriage and want
to make sure that your hard-earned assets go to the right people? Can
you think of people who you do not want to get your assets?
Whatever your motivation, everyone needs an estate plan. The plan is not
about getting documents signed. Think about the planning and detail that
you put into your wedding day? You planned out every minute and every
detail. I bet you asked your photographer or your DJ what happens if they
get sick on that day? Do they have a back-up? You thought about contingency
plans for bad weather and other things that seemed catastrophic at the
time. Maybe you had a wedding coordinator who listened to your hopes and
dreams and, then, used his or her expertise to plan and execute the perfect
wedding day. This is the mindset in estate planning: you think through
what you want for your life, for your family, and for your legacy, but
for longer than just one day.
Estate planning is thinking about the unthinkable and planning for your
family, even in your absence. The best approach to estate planning is
to take a wholistic look at your life, to take into account your family,
your values, your goals and your concerns, and to work with an experienced
attorney who can be your “coordinator” to customize a plan
that supports your vision. For assistance, contact Sharna Favuzza at firstname.lastname@example.org