Are You Opting Out of Your Financial Future?
Author: Sara Yen
Estate Planning is a complex area of law where misconceptions abound. It’s an area where what you think you know can be harmful—not only to you, but to the people you love.
Americans, in general, face challenges when it comes to saving, investing, and planning for their financial futures. With all the options, hype and advice from “experts” (not to mention well-meaning family members) it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, and simply opt out of the whole thing. But doing nothing is likely the worst choice possible. See if you spot yourself in any of these scenarios:
- The majority of Americans over age 65 are totally dependent on their Social Security checks. Is this where you see yourself? Could you live on Social Security alone? Would you want to? With proper planning, you and your family can enjoy a more secure retirement and protect the assets that you do have.
- An estimated 56% of Americans don’t have an estate plan, making it one of the most overlooked areas of personal financial management. People focus on maximizing their investments, contributing to their 401(k), buying property and cars, collecting all sort of “toys.” But what happens to these things when you die? Without an estate plan—at the very least, a valid will—state law and the courts will take over to distribute your those toys and assets you gathered in ways you probably never imagined.
- Many individuals mistakenly believe that since they aren’t “rich” they don’t need an estate plan. What they don’t realize is that an estate plan deals with far more than ‘who gets what.’ A well-designed plan can protect you in the case of sickness or disability by giving your family—or a trusted friend or advisor—the authority to manage your bills and investments when you are unable to. You can also use your plan to protect special needs children, provide for long-term care needs, and minimize income taxes on the distribution of retirement assets. And, planning now can minimize fees, and potentially avoid costly—and and very public—probate or guardianship proceedings in the future.
- If you are divorced—and possibly re-married—and you did estate planning in the past, your previous planning could now be invalid. Worse, you may still have beneficiaries on accounts that you’ve forgotten about, and your children may not stand to inherit the property you think they will.
If you see yourself in any of these situations, consider meeting with an estate planning attorney to discover how to take control of your affairs. It’s time to make sure you and your family are protected.
Resolve, now, to wrap up this year right!