Estate Planning in the Summer of Your Life
As I write this, it is mid-May and I am wondering if it might snow. It makes me wonder, when exactly is the summer of your life?
From an estate planning perspective, I can tell you the summer of your life is from your mid thirties to your mid fifties. You are likely to be earning income. You have capital responsibilities, a mortgage, car payments, possibly children, college tuition and weddings. It is the time of earning potential and the spending years. Summer is a hectic time of year.
So what should you accomplish in the summer of your life? Here is what I would recommend:
Health Care Planning:
I was astonished that the year I turned 40 a friend died of cancer. It seemed so young. It was so young. The lesson I learned, it is never too young to do health care planning. By executing a power of attorney for health care, a living will, a HIPAA authorization and possibly an organ donation statement, you can put your wishes in writing.
Make sure that your assets are in trust. If you have minor children, or even young adults, chances are that you would not want them to manage your financial affairs at age 18. When a child turns age 18, he or she is a legal adult in the State of Illinois. If you died tomorrow, would your 18 year old be able to manage money? What if you were disabled, would the 18 year old be a good financial manager for the family? By using a trust to hold assets, you can specify the ages that children will step up to act as financial managers. In the interim, you can specify an adult or a corporate trustee as your manager.
Now is the time to sit down and speak to a financial planner. I can not stress enough how important this is to long term success. While I have many clients who have handled their investments without professional advice successfully, that success is typically tied to the sound investing of one individual, be it husband or wife. What happens when that person is no longer available? Finding a financial advisor that you can work effectively with can make the long haul a success.
Planning for Long Term Care:
One out of two Americans will need long term care. The earlier you buy long term care insurance, the cheaper it will be. At your annual meeting with your insurance agent, raise the issue of long term care. Getting a price is generally without charge. Knowing your options is essential to making a choice.
Dealing with Aging Parents:
As our parents age, it becomes our duty to consider their care. Having their documents in place and organized is not only a blessing for your parents, it can make your job as care provider, as financial advisor, as executor easier and less expensive. Without a durable power of attorney, you may need to go to court to become a parent’s guardian in order to manage their finances. Without a will, you and your brother who has never helped out (you know the one) stand on equal footing to handle your parents’ estate.
Summer is an excellent time to assess and review. Make this summer, the summer of your life.