When it’s All Said and Done
It’s never too early to start planning for your end of life, especially when your finances are concerned. We asked L. Rachel Wilson for a few pointers.
No one ever wants to talk about it. You don’t even want to think it exists. But there is a day, somewhere on the horizon, when you will breathe your last. And when that day comes, will you have prepared your loved ones for what comes next? Will your house be in order?
To many, this is a concern for the autumn years. But that may be just as much a folly as thinking that your final day will never come.
“In my opinion,” says Rachel Wilson of Nest Estate Planning by L. Rachel Wilson, “young people, especially those with minor children and/or businesses, need estate planning more than the aging population.”
In the event of incapacity or death, what would happen to your kids, your assets, your business? If no prior planning is in place, chaos can ensue. We asked L. Rachel Wilson of Nest Estate Planning for a few pointers on preparing for the end.
Protecting your children
Often children enter the foster care system until the court can select a family member to care for them on a permanent basis. And often there are multiple family members who petition for guardianship of the children. And there is the inheritance to think about. If you pass without making an estate plan, in Georgia, your heirs will receive their inheritance at age 18. But according to Wilson there are many other ways to plan. You can plan for a trust to support your children through college, or to only distribute assets for specific things or a dynasty trust to support your children and then your grandchildren. Supplemental Needs Trusts can be put in place to care for children with special needs throughout their lifetime while making sure they can still receive benefits they are entitled to.
Protect your business
When you create an estate plan for your business, you get to decide, in advance, what will happen to your business and assets when you are gone. Would the business be sold or liquidated? Would your spouse run the business? Are there one or more children who may have an interest in running the business in the future? Do you have a trusted business partner who could keep the business going and growing until your children reach an age where they could participate in the business? Would you want your partner to buy out your share to provide liquid assets for your family? You’ve put your blood, sweat, and tears into building a business, but without estate planning, most small businesses don’t survive to the next generation.
Maybe your life has been rich in wisdom and experiences. How will you pass those things on to your children and family? Do you have memories or stories of a loved one that you wish you could hear again? Wilson says, “Consider making a plan to pass on these intangible assets too. At my firm, we do a ‘Legacy Interview’ at the end of each representation because often this is the most valuable form of wealth we can pass on.”
Estate planning also involves other kinds of planning too. Attorneys regularly help clients prepare advanced directives or “living wills,” or a durable healthcare power of attorney. But an attorney is not required to make a living will — anyone of sound mind and over the age of 18 can make a living will for free. You can find The Georgia Advance Directive for Health Care by going the Georgia Division of Aging Services Website or on Wilson’s firm’s website at NestEstatePlanning.com.
Keep it Going
Also, your estate plan isn’t a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. When you have a major life change, new baby, new business, change in net worth, etc., it is important to update your estate plan. If you had a will drafted a decade ago, and then put it on the shelf and never looked at it again, it may already be outdated. You should look at your estate planning every three years, at a minimum.
When you get ready to meet with an estate planning attorney, make sure you have gathered records of your assets, deeds to homes and properties, including approximate value and equity, banking information, 401K accounts, retirement accounts, life insurance, any prior wills or trusts you have created, etc. Have a list of questions ready for the attorney with whom you are consulting. Rachel says, “Estate planning is not one-size-fits-all, and your attorney should be sensitive to that, taking the time to understand your assets and your long-term goals.”
Learn more at NestEstatePlanning.com.
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