Imagine you are on a road trip. You have been traveling for a very long time and are drained emotionally and physically. As you get the key to your hotel room, all you can think about is resting your head on the soft pillow and drifting off to sweet sleep. But as you open the door, you find the room in complete disarray. Taped to the wall next to you is a note that says, “Sorry for the mess, but I assume you will take care of everything.”
How would you feel?
Having no plan and allowing your family to “take care of it,” most likely on their dime and with their time, is just like this scenario. Not only is your family mourning your death, but they have no guidance on how to handle your affairs. This likely leads to disagreements, and bad feelings all around. You may not think you need an estate plan. “I don’t have an “estate?!” is a statement I hear all of the time.
NEWSFLASH: if you have anything, you do have an estate. Your car, house, pets and Chanel purses can be a headache for your loved ones if you don’t decide who will receive these things when you die.
Truth is, we all have an expiration date. Why not make decisions while you are healthy? Setting up a will makes you consider other important questions:
- Who will be the guardian of my minor son?
- Who gets my hard-earned money or my business?
- Where do I want my ashes spread?
- Who will continue to pay for my daughter’s college?
By answering questions like these beforehand, you will help your loved ones better cope when you are not there.
Incapacitation Matters, Too
But don’t assume these issues only come up in death. If you are incapacitated, you can also leave a terrible burden on your loved ones if they don’t know what to do with you!
Many people ignore the fact that planning for incapacitation is an essential part of a good estate plan. If anything happens to you and you can’t take care of yourself, someone else will. You can indicate who you would like to take care of your physical body and your money if you are unable. If you don’t the state will. Can you imagine the additional stress and tension on your family if they have to wrestle with the courts to sort things out on your behalf? You can make sure they don’t carry this unnecessary burden.
Instead, look at estate planning as a present to your loved ones. By having a will in place, you’re making the job of cleaning up your life much easier and less expensive. You can protect yourself in the event of your incapacitation because your estate plan allows you to appoint someone to step in and handle your affairs. Just these small steps in setting up your estate plan can go a long way in creating clarity and peace for your family in your absence.