While estate planning can seem overwhelming at first, there are some simple rules you can use to help keep you motivated and focused on your goals. When many of our clients come to visit us, they are sometimes completely unaware of what estate planning is and what it can do for them. As they learn more about it, the details can overwhelm them with information. If you find yourself becoming frustrated or trying to keep track of too much information as you go about creating an estate plan, you might want to refer to the following rules to help you get back on track.
Estate Planning Rule 1. Simple is good.
A simple, effective estate plan that relies upon a small number of tools will always be better than a “perfect” plan. There is no such thing as a perfect estate plan, there are simply plans that match your needs and desires with the tools available to you.
Not only that, but many estate planning choices are based on value judgments. Do you value one option more than you value another, or have one preference over other choices? There is no right or wrong answer to many of these questions. When you are faced with them, you have to be prepared to make a decision and move on so you can create a plan that will be effective and useful.
Estate Planning Rule 2. Communication is key.
Whether you are talking to your family about the kinds of medical care you might want to receive when you’re older, talking to your children about possible inheritances, talking to your spouse about retirement plans, or talking to your lawyer about your estate planning options, communication is essential when you create a plan. There is simply no way to create an effective estate plan by yourself without the aid, guidance, and assistance of others.
If you want to keep your plan and choices private, that is entirely your decision. However, communicating your wishes and making your desires known to your closest loved ones and family members is often a better option than keeping your plan entirely to yourself.
Estate Planning Rule 3. Change will happen, and you must be prepared for it.
We cannot predict what the future holds, but we can be certain that changes will take place. Whether those changes come about because you have had a change of heart, your family situation has changed, or because the laws surrounding estate planning have changed, you need to be prepared to update your plan when necessary. Having a plan you fail to update can be disastrous, and potentially even worse than not having any plan at all.