Johnny Allen Hendrix better known as ‘Jimi Hendrix’ had a life that was short in span yet ferocious in its ascent. In his brief professional career of only 4 years, by 1968 when his 3rd studio album Electric Lady reached number one in the US, he was one of the highest paid performers in the world and headlined Woodstock a year later.
He then tragically died in 1970 of a drug overdose at the age of 27. Unfortunately, Jimi Hendrix not only died young, he died without a will and it took over 30 years to settle his estate.
These blunders are not reserved only for the rich and famous, a lack of proper estate planning is a shortfall for many Americans. I know many people who have been involved in the settling of an estate for a person who did not have a will, and none of them enjoyed the experience.
There is a sobering fact that one day, each of us will walk out on life and we will leave our loved ones behind to mourn. Even though we would be gone, we would want to support them through that difficult season. By taking the time to get our affairs in order, we will be able to hopefully accomplish that goal.
Here are 3 easy steps to get that ball rolling:
Conversations with Loved Ones – This is critically important and many times the most overlooked area. Honest and intentional conversations with your loved ones are essential to ward against strife and confusion. According to the Williams Group wealth consultancy, 70% of affluent families lose their wealth by the second generation, and an alarming 90% by the third generation.
If we look at history, a lack of planning is a consistent way to lose wealth and create an opportunity for discord among families. I do not know anyone who wants to leave words unsaid or have their families in conflict after they are gone.
Beneficiary Check – Do you own life insurance policies? Investments? Retirement accounts? Do you happen to have benefits from old employers? Or perhaps do you have bank accounts that have been opened for many years? These are all accounts that might have beneficiaries that are old, wrong or non-existent. If your beneficiaries are not clearly defined, the court system may decide who will be the recipient of those assets.
A simple way to remedy this is to do an inventory of every asset or account you have and find out who the beneficiaries are listed as. If they are incorrect or need updating, simply ask the company to mail you the paperwork to update that information.
Estate Documents – These are essential to any comprehensive financial plan. They can typically include a Last Will & Testament, Living Will, Healthcare Power of Attorney, Durable General Power of Attorney, Trust, or one of many other legal documents.
For instance, how will your primary residence pass to your multiple children? Not only are these documents extremely helpful after your passing, they are vital while you are still alive. Who will make healthcare decisions on your behalf if your spouse is incapacitated next to you? We encourage you to find a qualified estate planning attorney to help you define a strategy to protect your family.
My brother Justin is a Certified Estate Planner(CEP®) and we have an easy to complete Estate Planning Workbook to help you ask the right questions and begin to organize all of your thoughts. It is also helpful as a checklist for information that you will want to gather in preparation for speaking with an attorney. If you would like a free copy of this workbook, please email us: email@example.com.
I heard a man once say, ‘if you have something and you love someone, you need an estate plan’. If you are unsure how things will unfold after your passing, I hope the above 3 steps help you to start the process to remedy that. Planning for the future is a praiseworthy way to love your family.