Originally published November 23, 2021 by Leighten Hendrickson
“An estate plan is your legacy. It is taking control over the disposition of the assets you have worked hard to acquire, no matter how big or small, to facilitate an easy and efficient administration of your estate on your death.”
An Estate Plan is About Your Legacy
Planning for our own death is not something that tends to thrill most of us. It is difficult to face our own mortality. Not to mention, the benefit of an estate plan is not something that you will directly benefit from because, after all, you will be dead. Finally, the cost. You could likely think of a handful of other more exciting ways to spend your money than for legal paperwork you will stow away in your desk drawer.
These considerations make it difficult to get motivated to establish an estate plan.
Recent studies estimate that less than half of Americans, 46%, have a Last Will and Testament. The misconception that it is only necessary for high net worth individuals no doubt also plays a role in the statistics.
Having an estate plan, however, is as integral as creating a budget, paying your bills on time, saving for retirement, and other important ‘adulting’ aspects of life.
What we need is a shift in perspective. An estate plan is your legacy. It is taking control over the disposition of the assets you have worked hard to acquire, no matter how big or small, to facilitate an easy and efficient administration of your estate on your death.
It is especially important when you have minor children, complicated family dynamics, a blended family with children by a previous relationship, or all of the above. A comprehensive estate plan is comprised of not just a Last Will and Testament and, or a Trust, but also includes powers of attorney.
Take Control of What You Leave Behind
A financial power of attorney and a health care power of attorney is for your protection during your lifetime. If you are injured or disabled and unable to manage your financial affairs and responsibilities, your financial power of attorney is authorized to resume those duties on your behalf.
We are all familiar with tragic cases like that of Terri Schiavo when they make national headlines and the complications that arise when family members cannot agree as to the treatment of a loved one. Your health care power of attorney and living will avoid such pitfalls and designate who is authorized to make health care decisions on your behalf and provides instructions to your agent as to your wishes in such a circumstance.
We cannot control or anticipate when our time on Earth will come to a close, but we can control how it will go for the ones we leave behind by executing an estate plan.
Dying with dignity is what most of us hope for. It means taking control. An estate plan can help facilitate this. Do not leave your affairs in disarray, your wishes up for interpretation and speculation, avenues for disputes, and family infighting that result in lengthy and expensive court battles.
Disclaimer: Laws change constantly. Specific legal advice should be obtained regarding any legal matter. The information contained on this website does not constitute legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is created.
Leighten grew up on a cattle ranch along the San Pedro River and later moved to the big city of Tucson. She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona and her law degree from the John Marshall Law School in Chicago.