The Best Estate Planning Advice I Can Give
Every January I head down to Orlando for the Heckerling Conference on Estate Planning. Imagine thousands of attorneys and CPAs all congregating to discuss the latest complicated estate and tax planning strategies the best and brightest had dreamt up… yes, it is exactly as big of a nerd fest as you are imagining. I always come back with these amazing ideas that I can’t wait to share as they relate to people’s estate plans.
I was drafting just such an article when the news broke about Kobe Bryant; dead at 41, leaving a wife and young children.
The world was shocked. Someone with seemingly everything going for them, taken at such a young age. This got me thinking about my article and the highly technical advice it was going to provide, at which point I decided to scrap it. None of us knows when it will be our time, so let me give all of you the best estate planning advice I can give… simply, have an estate plan.
I meet families every day that have no plan in place, and they run the full gamut. From young newlyweds who just had their first child, to established middle age couples with several million dollars. For whatever reason, it seems that people are uniformly reticent to plan for life after their death. But it is one of the greatest gifts that you can give to your loved ones. And it doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.
I can talk for hours about the differences between wills and trust instruments. But in reality, just doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing. Of course we always recommend that you seek out an experienced estate planning attorney, but the reality is you can do something right now. Just writing down all of the information related to your financial life and wishes would be immensely helpful compared to nothing. It would give your loved ones a head start on knowing what institutions they need to work with and how to plan for your final services. Here at Savant we actually have a blank worksheet we give out that accomplishes just that.
I think families are often so overwhelmed by the thought of their own mortality and apparent complexity of estate planning that they simply shut down. But I can tell you that almost everyone leaves breathing a sigh of relief and saying how much easier the process was than they had originally thought, wondering why they had put it off so long. So, the best piece of advice I can give is simply start thinking and planning for what will happen after you are gone. It will end up being one of the greatest gifts you give your family.