Look folks, adulting is hard. It doesn’t matter if you’re 19 or 59. Functioning as a responsible contributing member of society (and maybe helping your offspring do the same) is a difficult ask. I know it’s too late for drunken, overly-optimistic, no-chance-it-will-ever-happen, pie-in-the-sky resolutions. And it’s probably too early to downgrade those wildly unachievable resolutions to more achievable goals such as “I resolve to drink one glass of water every day. #hydrated”. So in the interest of achieving a reasonable balance, we present 6 things you can actually achieve in 2019 with regards to your estate plan and life and 6 things in life that you really shouldn’t even bother trying.
1.Create A Will Or Living Trust
You’ve been putting it off for long enough. It’s time to provide some protection for your family, friends, and/or charities to whom you want to leave your assets. Putting a detailed will or living trust in place will eliminate the guesswork for your loved ones when you are gone. Your wishes have an exponentially higher chance of being understood and followed in a professionally drafted will or living trust.
2. Create a Power of Attorney
Ok, you aren’t planning on dying in 2019. I don’t blame you. But what if you’re incapacitated for some reason? Who will pay your monthly Netflix bill so that you can catch up on all the episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” when you come out of your coma? Your agent acting under your power of attorney, that’s who! Pick people whom you trust and who can manage your finances if you’re unable to do so.
3. Create an Advanced Health Care Directive
A living will by any other name is….called an Advanced Health Care Directive. This document provides doctors and your healthcare agent insight into what treatment you do or do not want in case of terminal illness or catastrophic injury. Try and pick people for this role who can follow your wishes even if those wishes don’t align with theirs.
4. Check Your Beneficiary Designations
We cannot stress this enough – update your beneficiary designations for your retirement accounts and life insurance accounts! If you got divorced (congratulations?) or married (congratulations?) or had kids (congratulations?), update those designations as soon as you can. Don’t forget to put inherited accounts in your name. As a rule of thumb, don’t put your trust as a beneficiary of your retirement accounts. Just don’t do it. But if you really think you need to have your trust as the beneficiary of an account, please come talk to us. We can help.
5. Talk To A Financial Planner
This is the year to get everything in order. A good financial planner will be someone with whom you have a good rapport, someone with experience, and someone who can advise you on how your assets can help you achieve your goals. It seems intimidating for a host of reasons, we know. (I don’t have enough money; I don’t know where my money is; I spend too much; I don’t want to be lectured.) Trust us, a good financial planner won’t judge but will help you get to where you want to go. And make sure your non-retirement investment accounts are in your trust!
6.Talk To Your Parents And Grandparents About Their Estate Plans
In the words of a certain Fresh Prince, parents just don’t understand. It’s often difficult to broach the topic of estate plans with parents. They can be recalcitrant or you may feel uncomfortable yourself with this topic. It’s not like you can just say in the middle of Sunday dinner, “Hey, Mom, pass the mashed potatoes and have you thought about what happens to this house when you and Dad die?” Don’t worry, there are a number of ways to broach this topic. And everyone in your family will have peace of mind once everything is addressed in a comprehensive estate plan.
Now that you’ve accomplished these 6 things to help get your estate plan and life in order, here are 6 things we definitely recommend skipping in 2019 based on our own experience:
- Buying your holiday presents ahead of time instead of through Amazon Prime on the last possible day/minute/second.
- Losing that last 20 pounds so you’re swimsuit ready by Memorial Day
- Eating your body weight in kale because see #2 above
- Reducing your bingeing habits to only 50 hours a week
- Going to bed at a reasonable hour because see #4 above
- Filling up on gas before you have less than 5 miles left in the tank
Happy New Year!