Why Should I Plan
This is a great question.
- to minimize stress on your loved ones
- to protect your children’s inheritance from being taken by creditors
- to protect your children from being disinherited in a second marriage
- so your loved ones don’t have to
- for your directions (not those of a Court) to be implemented
- to minimize financial and tax consequences
- to keep peace in the family
- so you get the health care you want
- so the loved ones you want get your assets, not the government
- resolve relationship problems
First the positive. There are always issues to address. Some of these issues are: what happens if I am unable to manage my health care, financial affairs, end of life health care, and who is to take my assets post-death. The onset of incapacity or death creates overwhelming grief and stress. Stress causes poor decision making which can be very expensive. A plan , when communicated to your family, fosters agreement reduce stress, support for your wishes and strengthens your family relationships. Planning lets your family know who is to make good decisions for you and that your money is to be spent for what you want. Planning allows your family to focus on helping you get well and on family unity. Making decisions with spouse or family means that one won’t have to make them alone.
Secondly, the negative. The type of planning I have previously outlined comes into play in highly stressful situations. Times of high stress foster family arguments, disagreements and fights. A stroke, automobile injury, work accident, or illness strikes and robs you of the ability to make decisions. Your family says “what do we do now.” I wish I knew what (s)he wanted. They look for instructions in vain. All your family can do is look back on situations where you have made comments, often jokingly, for guidance. Frankly, they don’t really know how to make decisions for you. They don’t know what they are facing and what it means. Equally important, your family doesn’t know who is to make decisions for you. Don’t let your family fall into this trap. Plan!
You now force your family to decide what you want without your wishes being known. You in effect reject the responsibility for making your decisions. You say “this won’t happen to me,” “no one in my family has had any of this issue,” and “they’ll look out for me.” Well, sickness and accidents happen when you least expect. Maybe family will look out for you and maybe they won’t. This is a strange concept until you have heard of a family where this has happened. Our Courts are busy with guardianships and conservatorships for those who have not properly planned. They do not always concern the elderly. Court procedures are not ordinarily the same as the directions you would give. Bad things can happen at any age. Dealing with the Court system in a time of stress is not comfortable. Trying to manage someone else’s assets without authority and direction is an invitation to a law suit, no matter how well intentioned your motives are. Today, families can sue without much cause.
Death, especially when unexpected is mighty stressful. Does your family know your wishes regarding burial, cremation and religious services? Do you have a favorite charity that you want to remember? Would you like to leave body organs to someone in need? Are there special items of property that your friend, child or grandchild would like to have? Are the children to share everything equally or are there special circumstances? Are you in a subsequent marriage? Do you recognize that your children may become disinherited if your subsequent spouse survives you?
Today many assets, IRA’s 401k’s pensions, retirement accounts, and annuities are income taxable even after death. They require planning to minimize taxes. Naming one or more children as named beneficiaries on an account can disinherit your other children or a deceased child’s children. Keep asset documents organized and in one location.
Crisis is the worst time to face these matters. There will be a rush to do things and strategic losses may be incurred or advantages overlooked. Simply said, planning ahead makes good sense.
The better way to approach this is to call for an appointment. I will review your circumstances, assets and give you ideas as to possible problem areas and solutions. Your plan will be assembled and your family will not have to guess what you would want to due in time of crisis.