Times of Uncertainty and Your Estate Plan
Contact: Jonathan G. Miller
The last three months have brought significant uncertainty to most of our lives. Our “normal” lives have been saturated with varying levels of fear, anxiety, and confusion. The coronavirus has forced some of us to learn new skills and do things we thought we never would (I, for one, never thought I’d be a 1st, 3rd, and 6th grade substitute teacher)!
One side-effect of these feelings is to reflect on our own mortality and ask questions we normally wouldn’t ask. “If something happens to me, are my affairs in order?” “Who will take care of my [kids\spouse\partner\other] when I’m gone?” “What do I even do to be prepared?” “What options do I have?”
These questions, hard as they are to consider, are not as difficult as we may think. There are some simple steps that you can take to both ease your mind and make sure you and your loved ones are prepared should the worst happen. Estate Planning – the process of planning out the distribution of the things you own after you die – helps accomplish these outcomes.
Who Needs an Estate Plan?
I will often meet with clients who don’t realize they have an estate. As surprising as it may sound, nearly everyone has one. Bank accounts, cars, homes, furniture, books, and jewelry are just a few examples of the assets that make up an estate. Estate planning allows you to make sure these assets go to the people (or organizations) you want to get them.
What is involved in Estate Planning?
Estate planning comes in many different shapes and sizes. The basic elements of an estate plan are a will, trust, power of attorney, and a healthcare directive. Each of these documents performs different functions and work together to protect individuals and families from uncertainty. We have written about each of those here.
One of the best things about estate planning is that it can be tailored to you. It doesn’t have to be expensive. You can start with what you can afford and grow into it. Get a will. Designate beneficiaries on your life insurance, retirement, or other financial accounts. Get a power of attorney (statutory) form from the Utah Courts. We strongly encourage you to consult with competent legal counsel to obtain the guidance and peace of mind you deserve.
The Best Time to Plan Your Estate is Now.
With all that is happening around us. Don’t let the stress and worry of the unknown stop you from obtaining peace of mind an estate plan offers. Too many people wait. Dying without an estate plan is often much more expensive than getting one in place now. One of the great things about estate planning is that the plan is often flexible and changes as your situation changes. As your situation changes or your family grows, your plan can mature with them. The most important thing to do is begin to plan.