Baby Boomers Fail to Consider When They Die
Not a day goes by when we are not inundated with messages advising us of the importance of retirement planning. We're told to save, save, save, so that we don't run out of money before we run out of life, which is definitely true and a smart way to go. Of course, when you look at the stats, Americans generally aren't doing even that basic thing very often. Too many Americans are planning to depend on Social Security for a living, and that's not a good thing.
However, even when we do the right thing when it comes to retirement, we do much worse when it comes to planning for what comes after retirement, which is death. Financial planners pretty much all agree that even those clients who are adamant about planning for their retirement rarely even talk about estate planning.
For whatever reason, estate planning seems to be a very low priority to most people; occupying a lower rung on financial ladder than even retirement planning. It's high time people started placing that a little higher up on their list of priorities. People spend their entire lives providing for their families, but they don't provide for them after they're gone.
Of course, an estate plan starts with a will, but it shouldn't really stop there. A will designates the executor of the estate and offers the executor guidance as to keeping with the wishes of the deceased. But there is more to do. For example, what do you want to happen at your funeral? Do you want the works, including a coffin and a cemetery plot, or do you want to be cremated and placed into a coffee can? What about your end of life medical care? Who do you want making decisions, and what sorts of decisions do you want them to make at the end, or if you become incapacitated?
If you have assets, and their disposition isn't cut-and-dried, an estate plan setting out all of the details is really important. Do you want to leave everything to your spouse or do you want to create income for your spouse and your children and/or grandchildren? What if you want to set terms for how your heirs receive their inheritance? You'll need to create a trust for them, to help them out.
If you have a special needs child, or a child who is terrible at managing money, you may want to set up a trust for them, as well. And if you have a minor child, you may want to set up a guardianship, just in case you and their other parent both die.
No one likes to think about death; almost no one, anyway. But consider what will happen if you die without a plan. Your state's intestacy laws will take effect, and they are unlikely to do what you want them to do.
For example, you may have four children but only want three to inherit your estate. If you don't have an estate plan, then the state rules would apply. If you don't have an estate plan, your estate will likely be probated, which could make a sad time for your family even sadder.