Estate planning should be a lifelong process. It is never too early to start the estate planning process, even with minimal assets at a younger age. Once you have a comprehensive estate planning framework in place, it is important to update it as life events change your circumstances. Much like your life is always evolving, so should your estate plan. It must be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it is up-to-date and continues to comply with changes in laws governing it. When you put this much time and effort into such an important component of protecting your loved ones, it is important to ensure there are mechanisms in place to protect it. The following suggestions, adapted from a recent article from CNBC, can help you ensure your estate plan is secure.
Pre-Paid, Pre-Planned Funerals
When a loved one passes away, it can be an extremely difficult experience. One of the most difficult parts of the grieving process is trying to make funeral arrangements while grieving, and funeral expenses can often be very high. By pre-paying for your funeral arrangements, you can spare your family from the unexpected costs related to funeral expenses while also saving yourself money by locking in prices before they grow over time. Pre-planning your funeral arrangements allows you to ensure that your wishes for your funeral are carried out and help your family avoid stressful decisions during the grieving process.
Appoint a Family Committee to Manage Assets
If you have a trust or other assets that are part of your estate, appointing a family committee to make determinations regarding your ability to govern your assets can be beneficial. By formally appointing such a committee, you will allow multiple family members to have a say in making important decisions about your health, finances, and future. Doing so will help you avoid court proceedings to determine guardianship and will also help avoid potential in-fighting between family members.
Use a Different Lawyer than Your Spouse
When you are married, your estate plan is somewhat of a joint venture. However, there are still important individual components to a married couple’s estate plan. By using a different experienced estate planning attorney than your spouse to draw up your specific estate plan, you can ensure that your wishes are adequately represented in the estate planning process as both lawyers work together to straighten out individual and mutual details. This can help you avoid unpleasant conversations with relatives, or with your spouse regarding specific wishes.
Determine Your Retirement Income
While programs like social security benefits have specific ages when partial or full benefits are available, they do not necessarily dictate your retirement age. By planning for your financial future as early in life as possible, you can more appropriately assess your finances as you near retirement. Understanding how much income you have and/or will have to work with in retirement can help you make important lifestyle choices so that you can live comfortably within your means and protect the assets you want to leave to family members.
Don’t Underestimate Your Life Expectancy
The United States Social Security Administration estimates that adults reaching 65 years of age this year can expect to live to an average 85 years of age. That doesn’t mean you won’t live past that age, especially as life expectancy continues to increase. When you plan for retirement and financial stability in your later years, it is important that you take into consideration longer life expectancy. Doing so can help you make informed decisions about things like long-term care insurance and other financial components important to elderly people.