Planning your personal legacy can be a stressful process. People frequently delay creating a will or estate plan, because they want to avoid making tough decisions or having stressful conversations with families. The idea of dying, finances and divvying up possessions can create conflict and stress. However, it doesn't have to be that way, says The Street’s recent article, “Planning Your Legacy: More Than Just Finances.” Let’s look at the "Four Pillars" of estate planning for some ways to avoid issues.
Pillar 1: Values and Life Lessons. People can forget to provide for some of the most valuable gifts that can be passed on to the next generation of family members, which are experiences and memories. Your years of life encounters have given you a wealth of life lessons and knowledge you can pass on to your heirs. Document your memories, relationships and any important lessons you want to preserve.
Pillar 2: Instructions and Wishes to be Fulfilled. Engage an estate planning attorney to be certain that the necessary legal documents are in place to carry out your instructions and wishes. This includes an advanced healthcare directive as well as powers of attorney and potentially a will and trust. These will make your wishes known and grant the authority to a trusted agent to have your instructions performed.
Pillar 3: Personal Possessions of Emotional Value. Items associated with the loved one can create the most conflict among family members. To preserve harmony, you should plan ahead, by considering which items may have personal importance and special meaning. You should then speak to the other family members, to see which items have a special meaning for each of them. These discussions, at an early stage of the process, can make it easier to decide the best way to distribute your meaningful possessions.
Pillar 4: Financial Assets and Real Estate. The final pillar focuses on the financial aspects. Work with an attorney and divide it into three areas. First, look at items of financial value and inventory high-value items, like art, antiques, and jewelry and determine what will happen to them. You should next consider your residence(s) and other real estate. The final step is to evaluate all of your financial assets, such as savings, investments and retirement accounts, as well as any trusts and insurance policies you may own.
Planning a personal legacy is a complicated and emotional process. It is far more than only the monetary value of objects left behind. Using the Four Pillars process may give you and your family more clarity and peace of mind. You’ll feel more confident that your wishes have been written down to help your family share memories and plan for a more secure future after you’re gone.
One of the main goals of our law practice is to help families like yours plan for the safe, successful transfer of wealth to the next generation. Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about your estate plan, where we can identify the best strategies for you and your family to ensure your legacy of love and financial security. Our office is located in Santa Ana, CA but we serve all of California including Irvine, Orange, Tustin, Newport Beach, and Anaheim.
Reference: The Street (September 19, 2018) “Planning Your Legacy: More Than Just Finances”