Life, health, and family circumstances can change in a heartbeat. I can speak to this firsthand, as I suddenly and unexpectedly lost my grandpa, my aunt, and two of my uncles within a matter of months this past year. Our lives are busy, and we often fly through days, weeks, and months on autopilot until we reach the next milestone and find ourselves wondering where has time gone?
The holiday season gives us a chance to pause. As we spend cherished time with friends and family, we have a perfect opportunity to ask and answer questions of ourselves, family, and friends that we might otherwise neglect to answer before it is too late.
An estate plan shapes your legacy and determines how you will support your loved ones after your passing. It also serves as a guide to your loved ones, answering some of the most important questions of your life. These questions include:
- Who would take care of your children if something happened to you?
- How can you ensure that your children are supported?
- What about your pets?
- Do you wish to prioritize the quality of your life and comfort, or do you wish to be kept alive for as long as possible by any means medically possible?
- What form of care do you wish to receive as you grow old, and do you wish to remain at home or in an assisted living facility?
- What will happen to you if you develop dementia?
- Who do you wish to make medical and financial decisions for you if you are unable?
- Who will receive which family heirlooms?
- What are your wishes for the disposition of your remains after you pass away and how will this be paid for?
If these questions are not answered in an estate plan, your loved ones and the courts will be stuck blindly guessing, with the outcomes unlikely to match your desires. Finally, an estate plan will save your estate, and your loved ones, a significant amount of money by avoiding the court system’s lengthy and expensive probate process, and potentially reducing your estate’s tax liabilities.
This holiday season, give yourself, friends, and loved ones the simple gift of peace of mind. Do not let another year go by without an estate plan or an update to an existing estate plan in place for you and your loved ones.