It’s that time of year again: time to go digging through files, digital and paper, in preparing for taxes. This is also the time, according to The (Dodge City, KS) High Plains Journal, in the article “Estate planning is for everyone,” when it makes sense to prepare information and gather your thoughts about your estate plan. If you are among those who think only wealthy people need an estate plan, think again: the cost and stress that occur when there is no estate plan in place, is a burden for your loved ones.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Start a discussion. Many families face a lack of communication as their greatest hurdle because family members don’t want to talk about estate planning. Parents may delay a discussion because the thought of growing old and dying is, frankly, not pleasant. Adult children may not want to bring up estate planning to avoid stressing parents and grandparents—and because they don’t want to look greedy. But the subject may come up when a neighbor, friend, or relative dies that may lead a family to have a discussion.
- Take stock. Examine your present financial situation since it’s the foundation of your entire estate plan.
- Develop goals. As you begin your estate plan, think about your objectives. These will vary from family to family due to differences in liabilities and assets, abilities and ages of survivors, the number of children, along with the values that are important to the creator of the estate plan. Your objectives may change with your age, or changes in marital status, income, assets or other factors in your life.
- Use professional advisers. Estate planning is technical and complex. An experienced estate planning attorney can coordinate the work of other team members. Ask questions and make sure that you understand your plan and its implications.
- Consider alternatives and implement the plan. There may be several ways to reach your objectives. Ask your attorney to explain the options. Once the plan has been created, it’s important to implement it.
- Review and modify if necessary. If you are like most people, your life changes, and your estate plan may also need to change. Even if your life has not changed a bit, tax laws change, and your old estate plan may be out of date. Don’t miss out on opportunities that might allow you and your family to benefit.
Reference: The (Dodge City, KS) High Plains Journal (January 30, 2017) “Estate planning is for everyone”