The Importance of Creating an Estate Plan

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  How many times have we heard these familiar words of Benjamin Franklin?  In all aspects of our lives, plans are a necessary course of action.  We plan everything from finances to meals to our work day.  Can you image what a cruise line would say to you if you just showed up on the Dock waiting to board the ship without planning the vacation first?  You would be left on land watching the ship sail off into the sunset. 

In order for any plan to succeed, planning must be a priority.  Procrastination is our enemy.  Not every person will have to enter a nursing home during their life time, but it’s a 100% guarantee that we will all die.  The procrastinator in you will say, “I know I am going to die, but that’s down the road, it’s not going to happen today, I will plan tomorrow.”  But no one really knows when that last day will be.

Yet, even though we understand the need to plan and we have a desire to plan, there is a large portion of us who just fail to do it.  We have good intentions, but just cannot make it happen.  This failure to plan also occurs in estate planning.  I have heard people say, “I am going to be dead, so what does it matter, I cannot take “it” with me.”  What people fail to understand is that you are planning, not for yourself, but for your loved ones, your family.

Why do I say it’s for your loved ones and family?  Because you are dead and it is rare for people to die with absolutely nothing.  Do you live in a home? Do you own a car? Do you have life insurance?  Retirement? Personal Possessions? What about a bank account? How about a cell phone? A twitter/facebook/Instagram account? Debt? All of these mentioned items will need to be taken care of by someone you love who is grieving your loss if you don’t plan while you are alive. What you don’t plan for today becomes the burden to your family after you pass. 

Some people do not plan because they are under the misconception that estate planning is only for the rich and famous.  That is simply not true.  Estate planning is for everyone.  Not everyone will have the same needs and that is why finding a good estate planning attorney who will focus on your specific goals is so important. 

Others feel that making an estate plan takes away all of their control over their property.  This is also a misconception.  A good estate planning attorney will explain your options according your individual goals.  That plan will ensure that you have as much control over your possessions as you want to ensure that your goals are achieved. 

Still others feel overwhelmed at the thought of where to begin.  Just like every project, you begin at the beginning and start with determining your goals.  Then gather your information.  This may be educating yourself by attending a workshop or reading books from the local library.  Next, consult with a professional and determine if that person understands your goals and can help you design a plan that developed from your vision.  Finally, once a plan is in place, don’t put it on the shelf and forget about it.  As your life changes, your plan may need to change with you.

I don’t know how many times I have heard family members express their gratitude that their loved one had a plan in place.  They now have instructions about how to proceed directly from their loved one and they can fulfill their loved one’s wishes knowing they are doing “what mom or dad wanted done.” 

Estate planning provides you with peace of mind knowing that a plan is in place.  It also allows your loved ones to grieve without the stress of trying to figure out what happens to everything you have left behind. 

Benjamin Franklin was not lying when he said, “lost time is never found again.”  Make today your day to give yourself and your family the peace of mind deserved. 

If you would like to meet with an attorney to start this conversation, contact us!

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