Many of us lead incredibly busy lives. Work, social events with friends and family, taking the kids from one place to another, trying to make a better life for my family, and so forth. Who has time to think about estate planning? That is something far down on the list for most people because they just don’t have time for it and don’t want to think about it.
I always wondered why people would not take the time to make sure they have a plan in place for their family, but now I get it.
I found myself, an estate planning attorney, putting off updating my own estate plan, even with the birth of my daughter. Like most people I have found myself making excuses so I can spend time on other supposedly more important daily tasks. Then, it hit me – I was looking at the estate planning process all wrong. I viewed estate planning as a task or chore; something most people (myself included) want to avoid. This is the wrong way to look at estate planning. It is not a sterile legal discussion about death and disability.
Planning your estate is an act of love to show the people you care about most how much you love them. It is the ultimate gift. My primary goal is that I want things to go more smoothly for my family after I am gone; an added bonus is the peace of mind that I get from knowing I have a solid plan in place. I believe this view is shared by the majority of my clients.
Therefore, I decided to hit the pause button on my life. I re-assessed why I was working so hard and spending long hours in the office. Like most people, I want to create a better life and environment for my family. My parents had done this for me and now I wanted to do the same for my family.
So let’s lay the foundation and that starts with identifying goals. What is my intent? Here are my goals:
- Disability Planning – My dad was stricken with Alzheimer’s for 10 years before he died and it was very difficult for the family (my mom most) since he did not have a solid plan in place. This is very important to me and I want to make sure we have a solid legal and financial plan in place if something happens to me.
- Asset Protection for the wealth I leave my family;
- Remarriage protection to protect my wealth if my spouse wants to remarry;
- Divorce protection for my daughter Nava if she gets involved with the wrong person;
- No court or government involvement as it is such a pain of dealing with them both;
- Investment assistance for my wife and daughter; and
- Minimize taxes to the greatest extent possible.
A revocable trust is the best option to achieve all of the above goals so my wife and I are updating our existing trusts. Next step, I will draft a statement in my own words setting forth my intent. I have the building blocks above and now the trick is to write something for my wife and daughter that clearly expresses what my hopes and dreams are for them. This last item of writing down my intent in my own words is something that only a handful of my clients have done. I have always made it optional and have not emphasized it. If any of our clients are interested in joining me in this task let me know. To prepare, I will think about the above goals and how I want to be remembered by family. To be continued…