If you think your Last Will & Testament is all you need to protect your loved ones, you might as well ditch your map, uninstall your GPS app, and just jaywalk!
Have you ever paid attention to an adult, teaching a child how to cross a busy street safely? Odds are, you’ve said it yourself; I know I have. Say it with me…’Look both ways before crossing.’ Ever wonder why you’ve never heard anyone tell a kid to look at their feet, or to keep their eyes on the road? Eyes on the road, but that’s something we teach kids when they are learning how to drive…!?! It’s a good thing when driving but not when walking? Huh?!!??!
Will looking both ways keep you from stepping in dog poop? Nope. Stubbing your toes? No. Breaking your heel? Unlikely. It doesn’t guarantee a fool proof transition from one side of the street to the next. You are simply in a better position, because you can be mindful of your surroundings.
When looking both ways, you are in the best position to:
- Assess the flow of traffic;
- Decide if you can stroll to the other side;
- See if it’s necessary to stop on the double yellow lines for a minute;
- See if you need to run.
Wait…Should you run? Do you want to get sweaty? Can you run? Are you wearing the right shoes?
There is power and beauty in looking both ways. You can decide if you want to run, relax, or course correct. The same is true of estate planning. You and your attorney should craft a plan, after looking both ways. A plan that helps you… plan for life!
A complete estate plan should at minimum include:
- A Last Will and Testament; *
- A durable health care power of attorney naming an agent (and an alternate) responsible for medical decision-making;
- A living will or other advance directive giving instructions concerning the type of care one wishes to receive (or avoid) in the event of a terminal illness or persistent vegetative state; and
- A durable ﬁnancial power of attorney naming an agent (and an alternate) responsible for asset and ﬁnancial management.
Estate planning may also include the creation of trusts & recommendations about beneﬁciary designations.
Your estate planner should be more than a scribe and great typist. He or she should also be a strategist. You should thank your lucky stars if you have someone on your team who can check you or bring you back to reality if necessary. Yes, your estate planner should be able to tell you if your wishes will be more trouble than they are worth! I’ve seen it. Big mama’s desire to provide for everyone, causes her to leave the house valued at $27k, to 122 people. Someone needs to check that… That alone could create issues that may take over a decade to probate! I’ll let you think about who gets the money in that case… look both ways! Too many of us… and by “us” I mean people who look like me, think it’s an insult to their family dynamics if they plan. ‘Everybody loves everybody’ they say…. ‘We would never fight about money!’
Yea… I know. You talk every day. You have a family group chat on Facebook, Whatsapp & Marcopolo. You have family reunion every season… I hear you. Except for the fact that things change, people change, circumstances change, and you have that one family member that loves a good fight…Put [a] TAG on it! Protect the wishes, people, and things you deem important.
But…If you happen to step on some dog poop while looking both ways, wipe it off, and keep on trucking. Look both ways, Plan for the unexpected & Live the golden life you’ve always imagined!
*In some cases, trusts are used with or in place of wills.