It seems like wills, estate planning and end-of-life decisions should be saved for those in their 80s or 90s.
It's not a fun thing to think about, let alone with the people you care about most.
But most times, it's the people who are least expecting and are the least prepared that need to get organized the most.
Over the last 12 months, we've had several clients suddenly pass away or spend significant time in the hospital. All seemed healthy. But within a matter of days, their reality shifted.
And while I always knew end-of-life planning was important, this gave me a renewed mission to ensure my clients have up-to-date plans and to help educate about the importance of planning ahead.
Here are 3 things to get started:
Create a will, durable power of attorney, and healthcare power of attorney. These are the basic building blocks of an estate plan. They let you direct where your assets will go at your death and specify who should be making decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated or have passed away. This is also where you specify who would become the guardian of your children before they reach age 18.
Check your life insurance and make sure you are covered. Insurance is never a fun topic. And at times, the insurance industry will push you into expensive products that are unneeded. However, if you have a family that depends on you for income, buying a term insurance policy is the best estate move you can make. Work with a Certified Financial Planner professional to determine your needs and make sure your family is provided for if something unforeseen happens.
Check your beneficiary designations. Many people think if they have an updated will, then they don't need to worry about the rest of the estate plan. But that's not true. Retirement accounts (401k, IRA, 403b) and insurance proceeds do not pass according to your will. But instead, they pass according to the beneficiary designations you have on file with the company. Making sure you update those designations at any life change is extremely important
End-of-life planning is really about your family, not you. They are the ones that benefit from correct and accurate legal documents and the financial protection provided by term insurance. Do it for them.