The Family Blueprint: Crafting a Thoughtful and Effective Estate Plan
Me and my wife have a deal...she gets to die first. Or at least that's her deal. See, my wife doesn't know what she would do without me...(or with me on some days :) I guess that is one of the disadvantageous of being married to a Nurse Midwife, she sees life and death on a daily basis, so the worry of what happens when one of us is gone is ever present in our lives.
So, let's dive right into the importance of having a financial continuity plan or estate plan, regardless of your wealth. You see, the main concern for most individuals, including myself, is ensuring that our loved ones are taken care of when we're no longer around. It's a natural worry that resonates with many of us.
When we talk about taking care of our loved ones, it typically boils down to a few key things. We want to make sure that their bills are paid, that they won't run out of money, and that they know where all the finances are. It's all about providing a sense of security for our loved ones. None of us want the thought of our spouse being left in financial ruin or chaos if something were to happen to us.
How to Create an Effective Estate Plan
So, let's talk about what you need to have in order to create an effective estate plan.
1. Have a List of All Your Accounts
First and foremost, you need a document or a central repository that both spouses can access. This should include a comprehensive list of all your accounts, who they are with, and how you can access them. It's all about having a clear understanding of your financial standing and knowing where your resources are located. Consider this step number one. (P.S. We have a free app you can use to help with this, you can signup here: Get The Free Yields4U Elements Financial Wellness App)
2. Ensure Continued Access to Fund (Setup Beneficiaries)
Next, it's crucial to ensure that the surviving spouse will have access to all the necessary funds in the event of one spouse passing away. For bank accounts, this means having a joint account or, if you have separate accounts, designating each other as pay-on-death or transfer-on-death beneficiaries. This way, the surviving spouse can walk into the bank and easily access the funds without any unnecessary delays. This is extremely important to avoid disruptions in paying for essential expenses such as gas and electric bills, car payments, rent, or mortgage. You want to provide assurance that the necessary resources will be readily available. So, joint accounts or pay-on-death designations are key here.
3. Document Your Important Expenses
Additionally, it's essential to have a clear listing of your expenses. Both spouses should be on the same page regarding this information. Let me tell you a personal story - when my dad passed away, it was a challenging process to figure out all of their expenses. You see, he had married his wife just a few years prior, and they were both in their sixties at the time. Adjusting to a new marriage, merging finances, and battling cancer made it difficult for them to organize everything properly. It was a time-consuming task to piece together all the essential information during a period when we were least mentally prepared to deal with it. This is why having a detailed document and ensuring that someone knows about it and can take care of those essential matters is so critical.
4. Have a Written Plan
Having a written plan of action is a crucial step in organizing your estate plan. So, where can you find such a resource? Well, let me tell you! You can visit our website, where we offer a free guide called "The Five Minute Estate Plan." I highly recommend starting there.In addition, you'll find a list of other websites and resources that can guide you through the process.
One great option is to search for a "Memorial Plan" template online. There are several websites that offer free templates you can use. Another fantastic resource is freewill.com, which provides valuable guidance and tools for creating your estate plan.
Once you have the template, it's time to start listing everything out. Begin with your accounts - note down the account numbers, how to access them, and any usernames and passwords required. It's essential to include all the necessary information so that anyone who needs access can do so without any trouble. We have a free app you can use to help with this, you can signup here: Get The Free Yields4U Elements Financial Wellness App)
Next, think about the important people in your life who should have access to this information. Consider family members, close friends, or even your attorney. Choose individuals who you trust and who will act in your best interests.
Don't Forget The "Non-Financial" Aspects
But it doesn't stop at the financial aspect, folks. Estate planning also involves addressing non-financial matters, such as your burial wishes and end-of-life arrangements. Don't shy away from these topics. Engage in conversations with your loved ones, so they know exactly what you desire.
Don't be like my dad! It was literally only on the morning that my dad passed, that in a moment of lucidity, I was able to ask him about his final wishes. If I hadn't taken those few precious minutes to talk to him, we would have been left guessing. As it turned out, none of us had any idea what he actually wanted, and luckily we were able to make it happen.
Don't leave these conversations to the last minute. These are conversations me and my wife have on a regular basis. Where do you want to be buried, what is important to you..and if you don't have any preferences, that's something to say as well. Don't leave your loved ones in limbo, wondering if they did right by you.
Remember, estate planning may not be the most exciting topic, but it's a one-time action that will provide peace of mind for years to come. So, take the initiative to create your plan, document your wishes, and empower your loved ones with the information they need to carry out your estate plan smoothly. Once it's done, you can enjoy life knowing that you have taken care of the future.
- The Five Minute Estate Plan.
- The Free Estate Planning Min-Course
- search for a "Memorial Plan" template online
- Get The Free Yields4U Elements Financial Wellness App
- If you have estate planning questions, don't hesitate to email us at [email protected]
- Or book a free, no-obligation 15-minute consultation. https://www.yields4u.com/pages/book