“I knew you were going to ask us that!”Submitted by Antaeus Wealth Advisors on November 3rd, 2016
What we find to be the #1 topic of procrastination for clients!
You are busy, you have other priorities, and something has to be pushed to the back burner. In our experience as advisors, clients push estate planning all the way to the furthest burner back! While there are many reasons you may not want to tackle this issue, it is important both for yourself and your loved ones. Creating and maintaining proper documents serves as a road map for others when you cannot speak for yourself.
Estate planning is not simply about leaving your assets to others. It comes into play during your lifetime, providing legal authority for people to act on your behalf when you cannot. A durable power of attorney or a healthcare proxy allows you to appoint others to act in your stead. The last place your loved one wants to go when you are in a crisis is before a judge to get authority. Working with your attorney, you can craft these two documents to allow your loved one to act for you.
When the inevitable happens to you, and you are no longer here, wouldn’t you prefer that your assets (financial, physical, or sentimental) go to people or organizations of your choosing? Estate planning allows you to leave those directions behind, so that you are comfortable that your wishes are followed. For some clients, we find that it is a favorite diary, painting or article of furniture that is most important to pass to someone, not a portfolio. Proper documents can accomplish this. For parents of young children, a focus is always on delineating who you would want as a guardian to raise your child.
While we are considering what to pass along and to whom, wouldn’t it help if we can disinherit the IRS where possible by reducing a tax burden? Proper estate planning can help with this as well. Gifting strategies, trusts and ownership of accounts may all coordinate to reduce taxes and increase inheritances.
So what are some of the reasons we hear for delaying estate planning?
“I don’t have enough”. In our opinion, everyone needs at least a will, healthcare proxy and durable power of attorney. Everyone should meet with an attorney to discuss planning.
“It is too expensive”. Probate courts have costs, and taxes can be very material in larger estates. Paying an attorney now to be comfortable that your wishes to be followed, court costs reduced and taxes managed is money well spent.
“I don’t know an attorney”. Ask friends, co-workers or your advisor for several names of attorneys. Interview the attorney so that you feel comfortable with the person, their expertise and their fee structure.
“I don’t know who I would ask to be a guardian for my child”. While you are considering this most important question, at least get the process started. Your attorney can help guide you through your options for the role of guardian and help you to make a choice.
“It’s just not a priority”. For the sake of your loved ones and those you may leave behind, it really does need to be a priority to plan. As your financial advisors, we want to be part of this process and work with you and your attorney. There is great peace of mind in knowing your wishes are documented and can be followed.
Don’t procrastinate! Find an attorney, involve your financial advisor, and make an estate plan!