To most people the methods and procedures of what to do with their property after their death is at best a mystery. The purpose of this part of our site is to give you a better understanding of what estate planning is and the options available to you to make your final desires into reality.
We have broken it down into several sections:
It has been said that a failure to plan is a plan to fail. Procrastination abounds when it comes to estate planning. It’s probably the last thing any of us want to do. The subject of dying is rarely one we approach with anticipation. This lack of eagerness, compounded by having to face the estate planning learning curve, keeps us from doing anything about the problem. Ignoring the problem, however, does not make it go away. So often people don’t take the time to come face to face with one of life’s realities and put a little effort into solving a problem that we will all have at some part in our life. I often jokingly say that the best time to plan your estate is the day before you die. I tell my clients, tongue in cheek, to call me on that day and I will draft the plan for their signature immediately. Obviously, though, none of us know when that day is.
You can’t take it with you so where is it going to go? I often have clients that tell me that they are leaving everything to one child with the understanding that he will distribute it to the other beneficiaries because “He knows what I want done with it.” They think that this solves everything. Of course they could not be farther from the truth. Those left behind need to have a clear map where you want us, your children, your attorney, etc. to distribute your stuff. Without that map, that plan, we can not carry out your wishes.
Did you ever think that when you are no longer here how difficult it is going to be to get in touch with you? Not only is communication difficult beyond the grave but there is the added problem that memories can change or more often the poor person you have left in “charge” takes the brunt of inter-family squabbling and invariably is the person blamed for a lot of the underlying tension that comes to the surface after the death of a family member. It is a sad commentary but death often brings out the worst in people.
If we fail to plan we can leave a mess for someone else to clean up, or worse, our lack of planning can often result in dramatically reducing the value of what we pass to our heirs through unnecessary costs including taxes and attorney fees. Don’t leave us without any clear direction from you where you want your stuff to go.
Now is the time to plan ahead if you want to maximize the estate you leave to your loved ones.
Click here to go to the next step, Planning Challenges and Techniques.