Take Control – Plan Ahead
I was privileged to conduct the In Case of Emergency, Break Glass! program at the East Library on Jan 21, 2012 sponsored by the members of Artemis and the Friends of the Pikes Peak Library. It was open to the public and 5 of my close friends came as well.
We started the day with why organizing your will, powers of attorney, and health care directives are so important. The state of Colorado has very reasonable laws if people die without a will, (and if no one decides to contest it) but having a will absolutely makes the process easier and cheaper on the people left behind. Having a will also makes sure that you, not the state, decides what happens after you are gone. So why don’t more people have a will?
I think it is because having a will means that we acknowledge the fact that we will someday die. This is scary. Sometimes death is quick, sometimes it is painful, and sometimes it is a surprise. The uncertainty of death makes it a frightening prospect.
Having a will, though, gives us back some of the control. We decide what happens, we plan and we know we are helping the people we care most about.
I like trusts too, if there is property in other states, multiple properties, second marriages, or complicated family situations, but the need for a trust is based on the individual and the state of residency. More and more states are moving toward common rules, but if you think you might need a trust, meeting with an estate-planning attorney is a good idea.
One of the points I made yesterday is to please check the beneficiaries of your life insurance and your Individual Retirement Accounts (IRAs), SEP plan, and 401 (k). When you first checked in for your job, you probably received a stack of forms and you filled them out and turned them in and stopped thinking about them. The people you listed as beneficiaries may not be in your life any more.
Please look at that paperwork to make sure that the people listed are who you want. Many people don’t realize that accounts with beneficiaries like this do not go into the estate if something happens to you – they go to the person named on the form, so that form is important.
Getting all of this paperwork together doesn’t sound fun, but it is critical to the well-being of the people you love. Isn’t that worth a few hours of your time?