Author: Aviva Gordon
I’ll wait…I have time…I’m not ready…I have nothing to worry about. When it comes to Estate Planning, I have heard all of these things. The truth is nobody wants to talk about what happens to one’s family or business (sometimes they are the same thing) when you are gone. However, as Winston Churchill is famous for saying, “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
Your family, your business, your employees (and their families) rely upon you. Making sure that you have protected all that you have built and those for whom you care may be one of the most important things that you do. Often when I talk to clients about estate planning, it is a scary topic and clients do not even know where to start. The first place to start is to know that there are ways to protect yourself; your family and your business from unnecessary costs, delays and uncertainty. If you own a home; have children; are part of a blended family, you should have a trust. I trust is, essentially, a way to hold your assets so that upon your death they do not need to go through a probate process in the Courts. Probate can be expensive; take a great deal of time; and can force your loved ones to have to focus on lawyers instead of on each other.
A trust, by itself, however is not enough. You should have a will – this is particularly true if you have minor children so that you can designate a guardian. You should also have powers of attorney in the event that you cannot speak for yourself. These can, and should, be for both financial decisions as well as medical decisions. You should also make sure that you have provided releases so that your family members can know about your health conditions in the event that you are impaired.
If you have a business, I cannot begin to express the importance of succession planning. You have built your business and, likely, your family depends upon its ongoing operations. Without meaningful succession planning, your business may not go on upon your death.
I know these are big topics and ones that are hard to consider. However, it is a disservice to those whom you love to not prepare for the ultimate future.