It has been more than 230 years
since poet Robert Burns wrote the words “the best laid plans of mice and men
often go awry,” yet the phrase remains with us today. While things don’t always
go the way we plan, when it comes to your financial and healthcare future, you
need to make a plan –and that includes for the time when you pass away, and
your assets will be passed on to others.
planning may not be fun, but it is necessary –that is if you want to ensure
that the majority of your assets are passed on to your children, grandchildren
and any charities you hope to leave money to, instead of having them lost to
taxes. Beyond ensuring that your assets are protected, you need to safeguard
against the arguments and estrangements that often result within families when
an individual’s wishes are not clearly spelled out before they have passed
away. Outlining your estate plans and making them known to the people they
involve are important.
important is outlining your wishes for healthcare in your later years and what
you want to happen –everything from a living will to your living situation
preference if you need assistance, such as caregivers or a retirement home.
overarching goal of estate planning is to avoid probate, the often lengthy
process where the court system will determine what will become of your assets
if you haven’t already done so clearly through your will, trusts or any other documents
involved in estate planning. Creating an estate plan is also good because it
gives you an idea of the overall value of your combined assets, from
investments and retirement accounts to your home or any other valuable items
you own. Since there can be many factors involved in protecting your assets, your
best bet is usually to hire an experienced financial advisor to help you.
are a few items to keep in mind when writing an estate plan:
If you hire an
estate planner, make sure that you understand everything they are doing and
why. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about anything you are unclear about.
Periodically sit down and review
your estate plan and make any updates that are needed. Regardless of what your
will might say, the beneficiary designation forms linked to retirement accounts
are what will ultimately be followed.
If power of attorney is part of your estate plan, ensure that you have one for finances and another for your healthcare. Keep these documents up to date and to ensure that those you have assigned power of attorney to remain those with whom you are close, you trust and have your best interest at heart.