John was 29, healthy, newly married, and seemingly invincible when he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly from natural causes. John died without a will or any documents informing our family of his wishes. This true story of my family member (name altered for confidentiality) is a reminder of the importance of giving those that we love a gift that keeps on giving.
It is the gift of thoughtful financial planning. There are simple things you can do to get your financial house in order. By taking the time and putting forth the effort, you can help ensure that the grief your loved ones naturally feel is not compounded by the stress of unraveling a financial knot. If you don’t get your documents in order, you could leave behind a mess that could snow-ball into a catastrophe of financial events. Just look at Prince’s estate!
Our office is familiar with what steps occur after a death because it is part of the financial life-cycle. The next steps include distributing the decedent’s assets. This experience can be a marathon emotionally since it can take months and often years to complete. However, you can shorten this process and lessen the emotional toll on your loved ones if you have a plan in place before anything happens to you.
So, think about your loved ones. Then invest the time, effort and some money to give them this selfless and priceless gift. Start by gathering your important documents: retirement plans, life insurance, wills, powers of attorney, guardianship for children, trusts, military benefits, bank accounts, real estate, business policies, etc. Then, work with your team of financial planners, CPAs, and attorneys to put together a plan that fits your desires. Make sure you understand how everything is going to move to your loved ones whenever this inevitable day arrives, whether tomorrow or in eighty years.
Remember, if you do not give this selfless gift of planning, the state could assign someone to distribute your assets. If you want a good example of this, again, look at Prince’s family and what they are going through. Every guitar, every car, every piece of clothing, will be distributed to his family members per the laws of the state.
I have to admit, I’ve never met anyone that wanted the state to be responsible for distributing their assets, belongings and precious possessions when they passed. If you have not expressed a clear preference regarding guardianship, the state could even be responsible for finding homes for your children, without your input should you die while they are still minors.
So, act today to make sure you are remembered with gratitude and appreciation. Give the selfless gift of planning. It will be one of the most valuable gifts your loved ones ever receive.