I get it, BBQs,the beach fireworks and wills don’t seem to be an automatic fit (i.e. Which of these things doesn’t belong?), but a relatively quiet time might be just the right time to think about your family’s future. Now that things may be slowing down for the summer and at least some of the feelings of crisis surrounding the Pandemic have subsided, it may be a good idea to check up on the status of your trusts and estates documents.
Granted, it doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, but it is a good time to think about the state of your documents. By most estimates, 50-60% percent of Americans don’t even have a will. That’s asking for trouble. On most days, it won’t be a problem, but one day it may be the cause of confusion and conflict within your family. A well crafted trusts and estates strategy can even help you to preserve and even to acquire wealth during your lifetime.
Here are a few things to think about when you contemplate creating or updating your estate:
- You need a will. Just the process of creating a will, will cause you to organize your paperwork, and that in itself is valuable. Also, you can make sure that your estate will be properly distributed.
- You need to update your will. Many young parents create wills soon after they have children in order to sort out guardianship issues, and then never pick them up again. Many things happen over the course of a lifetime. Your documents should be uptodate.
- New families require new estate planning. Second, or later, marriages, introduce a new level of complexity into estate planning. New relationships and new family members change the legal landscape. If you want to ensure that children and others from earlier marriages or relationships are provided for, it should be specified in your will and/or associated trust documents.
- Build on your estate. Trust and estate planning is not just for what happens after you pass away. There are numerous strategies that can help to create income during your lifetime and you can also create ways to provide for your most meaningful charities and non-profit organizations. We won’t go into the details in this post, but starting a discussion will quickly make it apparent how a little bit of advance planning can go a long way.
- Determine business priorities. Estate planning also presents an opportunity for you to think about the future of your career and any businesses you may own. How will you ensure the future operation and success of your business after you’re no longer involved? A little bit of thought can stave off what often prove to be the bitterest of family feuds and breakdowns.
Once you get all of this hard thinking out of the way, you’ll truly be able to get some rest and relaxation into your summer, not to mention, peace of mind.