Many of you are probably thinking, “Oh yeah, estate planning, that interests me about as much as a root canal. And it may be as painful too!” Well, it isn’t and as an added bonus, you get to hang out with a lawyer for awhile. Now you’re really worried, right? So, if you indulge me for about 500 words, I’ll explain it to you. (By the way the Gettysburg Address was 272 words.)
A textbook (yep, that’s where I got it) defines estate planning as a process to develop and implement a detailed plan, unique to the planner and the planners family, for the controlled management of personal and financial affairs; both while the planner is living and after death. That sounds pretty dull. Try this definition on for size: I want to give what I have, to whom I want, when I want, the way I want, and pay the least amount in taxes and fees, and assure the effective and efficient transfer of my financial and nonfinancial wealth as if I had been able to do it myself. That sounds better, don’t you agree?
So, why should I want to do it? First, because I doubt that you can foresee the future. (If you can then you already know the rest of the article anyway.) Second, you want to do it so you can save a great deal of money and time, and head off a huge amount of potential chaos and hard feelings among those closest to you by preplanning how you want your assets managed when you are incapacitated, and how your property will be divided at your death. And lastly, you want to build in protections for your loved ones so that what you do give them is safeguarded against catastrophic creditors, predators, or quite often, themselves. Alright, you’re anxious to start, but you have more questions.
Won’t it cost me a lot of money? Do I have to spend a lot of time with Bolling or some other attorney? The answers are no, it won’t cost that much (trust me I’m a lawyer), and yes, you should spend a great deal of time counseling and planning with an estate planning attorney. So, I suggest that you pick one that you like (I am likable by the way) and one that shares your values and that you will enjoy working with and sharing your family and asset information with. This is especially important because you should plan on a long term relationship with the attorney that you select. The law changes, your family changes, and your assets change. Your estate plan is only as good as its continual updating and maintenance.
Today, estate planning is more than simply drafting wills and trusts and avoiding taxes. It’s not about the documents, it’s about the result’s; estate plans that work when needed. You plan because you care for your own welfare and that of your family, your legacy, your values, your hopes and dreams.