As a culture, the United States avoids thinking about death. We have hundreds of euphemisms to avoid talking about it. For a long time, the FCC would not allow daytime television to say the word death. As a result, we refuse to confront our own mortality until we absolutely have to.
This is a bad idea.
Don’t get caught without an estate plan
Many people procrastinate a little too much when it comes to estate planning. A recent survey by AARP found that 64% of the people don’t have wills. It’s a common superstition that once a plan is made, something bad will happen. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth – the odds don’t change one bit. Instead, every one of my clients say that they experience such a sense of relief after completing their estate plan. The peace of mind far outweighs the irrational fear involved in beginning the estate planning process!
7 questions to ask when preparing your estate plan for couples and single adults.
- Disability: What if you, your spouse or child becomes permanently disabled and could no longer work or take care of yourself? Who will be the care provider and how will that happen? Your spouse can handle it all by themselves. They’ll need breaks, help with the children, and they’ll need to work to pay the bills. What is your backup plan in case they are injured? Hospitals now require a power of attorney, and authorization from you before your spouse is able to make decisions for you.
- Expenses Prior To Death: Dying can be expensive. Medical expense is one of the most common causes of bankruptcy in the United States, with cancer as the leading cause. How will you pay your mortgage or other needed medical bills with a terminal diagnosis?
- Final Expenses Caused from Death: Even after death, the bills don’t stop. Do you have a funeral plan? If you die, what expenses will your family need to pay? Without proper estate planning, your family could lose their home trying to pay off the expenses.
- Ongoing Expenses: What ongoing expenses will your children and spouse have? Mortgages, car payments, debts, and inflation will all take a chunk out of the money you leave behind. How much money a year do you need to replace your income or services in the home? How long would your family need it? 10 years, 20 years, 30 years? Some husbands think their spouses will remarry and the money will go to future husbands. Thinking this way may instead leave your children with nothing.
- Care for Loved Ones: If you or both you and your spouse were to die tomorrow in a car accident, what would happen to your children? Who would take care of them? How and where would they take care of them?
- Death Tax Burdens: If your estate is large enough (1 million dollars or more), state and federal taxes can take up to 50%. 1 million dollars over the course of 15 years is a little over $66k per year, without the right tax protection can reduce that to $33k per year. Can your family live a sustainable life?
- Revising Wills: Will your life change over the next few years with income, children, home size? How often you should revise your will depends on how quickly your life changes.
Let Me Help You
Having the right team of consultants, including an estate planning attorney, CPA, and financial advisor can help you avoid years worth of hassle and potential poverty for your loved ones, giving them the peace of mind to live fulfilling lives in the unlikely event of your death or disability. Discussing these questions with your loved ones prior to meeting with your estate attorney will quickly move the process forward while keeping you and your loved ones protected from an unfortunate event.
A quick note, each state has different laws pertaining to wills and estates. It’s important to find local advisors that understand the legal and tax situations involved for you specifically. Let me know how I can help. Local to Logan Utah I can help with your estate planning needs. If you’re ready to have the peace of mind that comes from a good plan, then get in touch with me today.