Some things seem to perpetually stay on our to-do list because they’re not easy or fun to do. “It’s not a matter of life and death,” we tell ourselves as we postpone things.
But in the case of literal life and death, there may not be an opportunity to do it later. Estate planning is important but easy to postpone. Part of the reason is because we don’t think something will happen to us today. If we knew something would happen to us on a particular date, then it would be easier to make a priority.
I came across two poignant articles about estate planning that I’d like to share. They reinforced my belief that it’s best to not procrastinate about estate planning.
The first article I read appeared in the January 30, 2017 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek. The article talks about the late entertainer Prince.
Unfortunately, Prince died without a will. Prince’s estate now has a court mandate to maximize the value of his song catalog, which he went to painstaking lengths to control while alive. The estate’s actions from this point forward likely won’t be what Prince himself would have wanted.
About Prince’s wishes, the article quotes Laura Zwicker, the representative of a Los Angeles law firm. “His intent is irrelevant because he never wrote it down,” she said, “That’s why it’s so imperative to get people to write their intent down. Even if [the estate administrators] knew his intent and wanted to follow it, they can’t.”
We all know the inevitability of passing away. But what if we end up incapacitated while still alive?
The second article I read appeared on MarketWatch.com, an investing and news website. The article is titled “Get these documents in order while you’re healthy and able to.”
It discusses the importance of having a power of attorney and a health care power of attorney. These are two critically important documents that could save you and your loved ones trouble if you’re ever in the position of not being able to make decisions for yourself.
The article explains, “A power of attorney is a trusted person who has authorization to make personal, business, and legal decisions on behalf of someone in the event that they are incapable of doing these things themselves… An additional health care power of attorney (also known as a health care proxy or advance directive) is required to be able to make critical medical decisions for the incapacitated person.”
These articles simply remind us about the importance of getting documents in place. Depending on one’s circumstances, these might include a will, trust agreement, power of attorney, health care power of attorney, beneficiary designation forms, and/or other documents. Perhaps you have taken care of these documents already, but you or your family have experienced a significant life change that necessitates an update to your estate planning.
For marking these things off the to-do list, there is no time like the present.
BCS Wealth Management, LLC does not provide legal advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only. We care about the wellbeing of you and your family, and we encourage you to speak with a trusted estate planning attorney as appropriate.