We know very few people who look forward to planning for the end of their lives. Yet, a well-documented end-of-life plan can be the difference between camaraderie and chaos in your family after you die. Issues surrounding money often add an extra layer of confusion during an already stressful time. Even after your estate planning documents have been completed, there are several additional steps you can take to remove some of the burdens from your survivors.
Estate Planning Checkup
It is a good idea to review your wills, trusts, and powers of attorney every five years or so. Family structures change due to births, deaths, and divorces. Also, your retirement account (IRAs and 401ks) beneficiaries may need to be updated. You would be surprised by how many ex-spouses and deceased people remain listed as beneficiaries. This also applies to life insurance policies, pension plans, property deeds, and vehicle titles.
Legacy Mission Statement
Many parents fear that their children may squander their inheritances or just make poor decisions with this new-found wealth. While it’s true that parents can put handcuffs on frivolous spending through well-designed trust, a greater concern to parents is often, “Will my beneficiaries understand how I want them to treat my legacy?”
A method that is becoming increasingly popular is something called a Legacy Mission Statement. It can be written by you, including your spouse, or with the family as a whole. Through this document, your heirs will learn about your religious and/or charitable values, and that you would like them to consider spending some of their inheritance on these issues. A clear and concise declaration can also mitigate family conflict. Reading your Legacy Mission Statement aloud before a family meeting can remind everyone that this gift is meant to bring them together, not push them apart.
For example, a mission statement might read:
Tanneberger Legacy Mission Statement
I leave this legacy for my loved ones with the hope that they consider these things after I am gone:
These funds will not cause a divide among my children or grandchildren. Family comes before possessions, and relationships are not to be squandered.
Those who benefit from this legacy should make a conscious effort to give back to the community. Giving has always been a strong pillar of this family.
This wealth was accumulated through smart investing. This practice should continue after I'm gone. I want my children to seek education about investing or partner with a trustworthy financial advisor.
Don't Just Say It; Write It
After your passing, there will be a multitude of information that will need to be gathered and tasks to be handled. It can be a harrowing experience for survivors. We encourage our clients to write down their essential data and wishes ahead of time. Feel free to utilize the following guide we have created.
Estate planning is a challenging task, so we want our clients to know that we are here to walk them and their families through this important process. If you would like to schedule a meeting with your beneficiaries to start a conversation about your legacy, please let us know so we can help you.