ESTATE PLANNING SIMPLIFIED….THREE QUESTIONS TO ANSWER
Chances are if you have done a little research on estate planning, it might be confusing. The Internet can be like trying to take a sip of water from a fire hose. So this blog entry is entitled Estate Planning Simplified…I’m gonna break estate planning and the thought process behind it into three questions.
1. Who do you love?
This question is as simple as it reads. Who are the people you love? Family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, pets? Is there a charity you love? You can probably arrange the people you love in your head very easily. These are the people that we want to be part of your estate plan.
2. What do you have?
Make a list of what you have. Checking accounts, savings accounts, money market accounts, CDs, bonds, promissory notes, stocks, annuities, 401(K), IRA, cash, jewelry, a home (primary residence, vacation home, acreage, farm land, timeshares), vehicles (cars / boats / trailers). This is a great exercise because most people don’t keep a running list of everything they own. But you’ll need this to do your estate plan.
3. Who do you trust?
This is distinctly different, as well all know, than making a list of who we love. Hopefully you trust your spouse. From there it can get tricky. Do you trust all of your children? Is there a child or children you trust most? Is there a child you don’t trust at all? You may ask, well, in what way do I trust them? Great question. Do you trust them with money? Do you trust them to distribute your assets or hold your assets like a trustee or executor is required to do? Do you trust them to follow your wishes on your death bed with your healthcare directive? If you don’t, why not? If you don’t have children, but are married, who would you trust literally with your life if your spouse wasn’t around? These can be tough questions to think about and answer but they must be answered in completing your estate plan because you need people you trust to make all sorts of decisions if you can’t.
So these three questions, once answered, represent the essence of estate plan. You should have peace of mind once you have answered them. The next step is to follow through with putting that peace of mind into writing. The tangible result of that is paper…your estate plan.