Estate Planning 101?!?!? This sounds like the most basic of estate planning. Well it is. For anyone that is wondering what estate planning is about, this is the discussion you want. We will examine the very basics of what it is and if you need it. So lets get started!
Do you need a will?
This is the question that comes up most often. Unfortunately you are asking the wrong question.
The answer is yes, you do need a will.
But maybe the problem with talking about estate planning 101 is everyone thinks it is about planning what happens after you die. It’s not entirely about that!
That is only one small part of estate planning. Actually, it is also about planning if you live!!
Everyone has an “estate”. Basically an estate is your property that you own. It can be anything, and value is not a consideration. Notice the definition does not say anything about being dead or alive. So right now, this moment, you have an estate. Look around you and you will see it.
So we have established you have an estate. So what? Maybe your estate consists of an old car, some books and pictures, a few personal possessions, and $200 in your bank account. Should you really have to do an estate plan for that?
Again, the answer is yes. Confused yet? Keep reading!!
You may not think it is a big deal because you might not have a lot of “stuff” with high value. That’s not really the point.
So what is the point? Well, let me ask you some questions. You answer them, be honest.
What would happen to you if tomorrow morning you have a stroke (or a car accident, or a heart attack, you pick it) and are unable to act in your own behalf?
You might be thinking, okay, I go to the hospital and get better. Really?
You may think my next of kin (wife, daughter, son) will make the decisions for me. Really?
Do you think they can just make those decisions without some prearranged authority from you to make them?
What if you are technically brain dead? Would you want to be kept alive by machines and feeding tubes? Most people answer no to this, however who will make the decision to stop life support? They cannot make this decision without written authority from you unless they go through a long and expensive court process to get that permission. What will happen to you if you get some form of dementia? You could live a long time like this, but unable to make decisions.
What will happen to the possessions you have if you have to be cared for in a facility and can’t stay at home?
Who makes the decision as to when you reach the stage you need skilled care? Who gave them the permission to make that decision?
What if you don’t have enough money to support living in a care facility? What happens then? Who handles this if you can’t?
These are just a few of the estate planning 101 questions that can come up and they have nothing to do with your dying. They do have everything to do with your living!!
It seems a logical thing to do estate planning 101. I mean, we all know how our life story will end! There is no other option for a different ending. So why do people refuse to do estate planning 101, or even to think or talk about it?
It is sad to think that only 45% of the nation’s adults have a will.
Please do not be part of the 55% that burden their loved ones with making difficult decisions and having to go to court to receive authority to act in your behalf. Complete estate planning 101!
In the following pages we will be taking a look at the different steps in estate planning. It can be a confusing and complicated subject. I will try to de-mystify it for you to help you make some critical decisions.
Stage 1 of estate planning will consists of Estate Planning Basics. Here I will discuss what an estate plan is, why you need one, and some of the easiest ways to get this done.
Stage 2 you need to learn more about a Power of Attorney. This is a vital legal document in your Estate Planning. Every estate plan should have a POA. Visit Power of Attorney to learn more.
Stage 3 of estate planning I will take a look at the differences between Estate Planning and Trusts , wills, and other more sophisticated ways of planning.
In Stage 4 of my discussion we will review an Estate Planning Checklist and discuss what you will need to start an estate plan.
Finally in Stage 5 we will talk about an estate planning organizer, how you can get one, and the benefits of keeping it.
Estate Planning - Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst.