Estate planning is one of the most important parts of your life plan. While that certainly can seem like a silly term to use when you’re 18 years old, as you age, the reality of what stretches before you and your time on this earth becomes an important part of how you prepare for your future and your family’s future. At some point, it stops being about what you’ll do in the future, and it starts being necessary for you to seriously evaluate your family’s future promises. So, even though the thought of an estate plan is a daunting subject, it’s important to be realistic about it. Because it’s one of the most important plans you’ll ever make.
That being said, there’s a number of myths that might misdirect you on your journey to creating the proper estate plan you need to protect you and your family’s future. If you misstep on this process, the whole idea becomes much more daunting, and you might find yourself putting off the finalization of your will and testament for a longer period of time, which is never the right idea. That’s why Goldberg & Associates is here to help you sort through the misleading ideas about estate plans that you may have already taken to heart, and need help getting around.
“I’m Too Young”
So many individuals put off estate planning until they’re well into their 60s and that’s honestly really dangerous. There is nothing constant in life besides the promise of change, and things can change for the worst at the drop of a hat. Making the determination to put a plan into effect for your estate is one of the bravest decisions you can make. They’re easily editable and can be scaled-up alongside your wealth as your long and happy life unfolds. But in the event of something tragic, you won’t be leaving behind the ones you love with more questions than answers.
Estate Planning Doesn’t Pertain to Me
There’s a common misconception that circulates somehow, often without even being spoken and that’s the idea that only wealthy people need an estate plan. The bottom line is that you need an estate plan regardless of the size of that estate. After all, doesn’t the thought of that special item you bought while overseas going to the wrong person bother you? Doesn’t the idea that your money might not go to the person in your life you believe needs it most make you pause? Everything you own, whether that’s money, jewelry, or just photo albums will go to someone eventually. Regardless of the amount of those things, you’ll want to have control over the last thing you do in this world: passing on your legacy to the right people.
My Family Can Make The Decision
To be frank, pinning this responsibility on your family is potentially one of the worst things you could do to them. When a death happens in the family, it’s already hard enough. They’re going to have to cope with your absence forever, adding anything to that heap of responsibilities is simply irresponsible. Plus, nothing causes irreparable damage to family relationships like an unclear estate plan, or worse an unfair one. If you choose the wrong person to be the executor of your estate, or you don’t make your plans clear about what you intend to go where, then you’ll be causing rifts in the family dynamic that will last far too long. You’ll be making some people feel left out and causing lasting damage to their opinion of you. Avoid this at all costs by establishing an estate plan upfront. Regardless of how much planning you can do, there will always be rifts and disagreements in the wake of a death in the family, but the goal has to be to diminish those issues as much as possible though, so you can leave as little chaos in your wake as possible.
You’re Married, So It’s Already Arranged
Many people believe that, once they’re married, they don’t need to make any real estate plan because it’s already essentially drawn up in the marriage contract. After all, “what’s mine is yours.” Right? While it makes dividing your assets easier, it does not make it as clear cut as you might hope. For example, if you and your spouse pass together, there will be questions left about where the money and possessions are going afterward. This gets more complicated if there are certain heirlooms you’d like going to specific people or you need certain trusts put in place to help you navigate how the wealth and when that wealth is distributed? You’ll need an estate plan to outline those specifics.
You Don’t Have To Let Your Family Know About The Will
One of the biggest and most popular mistakes actually has Hollywood to blame for its shameless propagation. In many movies and TV shows, you’ll hear tales of people supposedly leaving a will out of the general topic of conversation and the distribution being a surprise to everyone in the room. Speaking with your heirs and loved ones about your plans for your estate is only fair and helps to alleviate those potential rifts in the family dynamic in the future. However, this can also become an issue in the form of loved ones making decisions based on the estate without reading the will. It’s a known issue that, without a family being briefed about your wishes beforehand, the will is likely to be ignored and then become a legal issue for your family members later on. If you don’t let them know about your wishes, they won’t know to follow through on them. They also likely won’t be aware of various insurance policies, stocks, properties, and digital assets that they need to claim and distribute according to your directions. Your estate plan and afterlife wishes shouldn’t be a surprise for your family. Let them know what’s going on in your estate planning organization and what they can expect. It doesn’t make for a very good Hollywood movie script, but most things in real life shouldn’t anyway.
Don’t Plan By Yourself
No one expects you to be an all-knowing being that can make a plan for any possibility and that’s why you’ll need help moving forward. You’ll be able to more easily adapt to potential unknown situations when you put two heads together. You’ll also have someone there to help you realize you can’t make everyone happy. There’s going to be things that multiple people want, and while money can split pretty evenly, other things like heirlooms, can’t just be cut in half. This is your estate, and it’s your decision on where this money and these possessions go. Don’t second guess what people will think of you afterward, just try to be as fair and balanced as possible. Plus, using a professional as your right-hand man as you put everything together will ensure that you don’t miss any major points and that you don’t step on the toes of any major laws.
Once It’s Done, It’s Done
Unfortunately, your estate plan, depending on how early you create it (and remember, the earlier the better) will have to be adjusted as time goes on. Your initial estate plan will likely just be a blueprint of where your assets will go if you should pass unexpectedly. As you age though, you’ll likely accumulate wealth in different ways. You might open a business or create an online revenue stream of some kind, you’ll almost certainly start putting money into investments such as 401ks, bonds and other investments to help you grow your overall wealth without having to work hourly for every dollar. You’ll need to make updates as you go and from time to time, you’ll find missing pieces of the puzzle. For example, maybe now you have a granddaughter and would like to pass some money directly on to her, you’ll have to make the right modifications to ensure that she gets the money directly, rather than having it funneled through her parents.
Seek Better Estate Planning Partnership with Goldberg & Associates
Here at Goldberg & Associates, we’re passionate about making the estate planning duties you have to complete easy to do. We know how hard it can be to think of a future without you in it, but for the sake of your family and protecting the people you leave behind, it’s a crucial step in your life plan. Reach out to us today to start discussing how we can help you put together a more complete and detailed estate plan to help your family avoid long probate court fights, rifts in their relationships and more after you’ve gone.