Some people take a very narrow view when it comes to the concept of estate planning. They look at it as a very simple, straightforward financial matter. You create a last will, you state your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets, and the executor takes care of everything after you pass away. That’s all there is to it, right?
This can be done, but it is a rather shortsighted perspective. First of all, a last will is not always the best choice as an asset transfer vehicle. There are various different trusts that should be considered, and the right choice will depend upon the circumstances. People should make informed decisions, because surviving loved ones can pay a heavy price if misguided assumptions yield problematic outcomes.
In addition to the device that you use to facilitate asset transfers, incapacity planning should be taken into consideration. Once you reach the age of 67, it is likely that you will live into your mid-80s and perhaps beyond. About 40 percent of people that are 85 years of age and older have Alzheimer’s disease, and of course, this is not the only cause of incapacity.
If you don’t do anything to prepare for this eventuality, a guardian could be appointed by the state if you ever become incapacitated. Most people would rather choose their own representatives, and you can do this through the creation of durable powers of attorney. You can have one durable power of attorney for health care, and another one for financial matters.
These are the basics, but there is a more comprehensive form of estate planning called legacy planning. This can involve some financial steps, but there are also matters of the heart that can be part of the plan. Let’s look at some of the components that can be included in a well-constructed legacy plan.
Family Heirlooms and Collectibles
When you are engaged in your legacy planning efforts, you may want to carefully evaluate the family heirlooms and collectibles that you have in your possession. It could be very meaningful for each respective member of your family to become caretakers of specially selected items.
For example, if you have a baseball that has been autographed by Babe Ruth, you may want to make sure that it gets into the hands of your grandson who has an extraordinary passion for the game. This is just one hypothetical scenario, but this line of thinking can extend to all different types of objects, including jewelry, works of art, antiques, etc.
As an elder, you are a rich repository of history. There are events that were experienced by society as a whole, and you have had personal experiences with friends, family members, associates, and others. It would be very enriching for your loved ones to be able to share in these memories after you are gone. This can be done if you take the time to record your personal memoirs and include them in your legacy plan.
Financial assets are great, but the ability to realize your full potential as a human being is priceless. If you have the resources to do so, you can make sure that all of your family members, and maybe even those that are yet to be born, have the opportunity to get a strong education. This can extend to people outside the family if you were to establish a scholarship in your name.
An ethical will can be another very special addition to your legacy plan. This type of will has nothing to do with monetary asset transfers, and in fact, it is not legally binding in any way. With an ethical will, you can share your moral and spiritual values with the loved ones that you will be leaving behind.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Seminar!
These are a few things to think about when you are devising your estate plan, and you can obtain much more food for thought if you take advantage of a learning opportunity that we are offering. Our attorneys are holding a number of estate planning seminars over the coming weeks. You can really build on your knowledge considerably if you attend the session that fits into your schedule.
Best of all, the seminars are being offered free of charge at the present time. However, space is limited, so we ask that you reserve your seat in advance. To see the schedule and obtain registration information, click the following link: Smithtown, New York Estate Planning Seminars.