In Payson, you have to work hard to provide a comfortable living for your family. But you also need to think about what might happen to them after you're gone or if you become incapacitated. That means you need to start planning -- and the best time to begin is now, no matter what your age. No one knows what the future holds for us.
To properly provide for your family, you'll need to take quite a few steps. Here is a checklist of some of the most important ones:
- Purchase adequate life insurance. You may already have life insurance -- about three-fourths of Americans do, according to LIMRA, a research and consulting organization serving the life insurance industry. But do you have a sufficient amount to pay off your mortgage, send your children to college and meet other key needs?
- Designate beneficiaries. You should periodically review the beneficiary designations on your life insurance contracts and qualified plans, such as 401(k)s and IRAs. It's essential to update these designations if remarriages and stepchildren are part of your family picture. Keep in mind that beneficiary designations will even supersede the instructions in your will. So, if these designations are out of date, your true wishes may not be carried out.
- Write a will. If you were to die without a will, a court might distribute your assets. This could lead to a great deal of problems within your family.
- Create a living trust. Even if you have a will, your assets will have to pass through probate --which can be time-consuming and expensive. But with a properly established living trust, your assets can pass directly to your beneficiaries without court interference, legal fees, lengthy delays and public disclosure.
- Draft a general power of attorney. This document allows you to appoint another person to conduct your business affairs if you become physically or mentally incapacitated.
Clearly, trying to accomplish all these steps can be somewhat daunting. But you don't have to do it alone. You should consult with a competent tax specialist or attorney for professional advice on your specific situation. By assembling a qualified estate-planning team, you can get the help you need to achieve your goals.
Of course, you're never really "done" with your estate planning. Why? Because, over time, your life can change in many ways. Your family or job situation may change, or you may become involved in charities that you wish to support. Consequently, you'll want to revisit almost every aspect of your estate plan every few years.
But you won't want to wait a few years before you begin your planning. You don't have to get all your plans in place at one time, but you do need to start the ball rolling. Estate planning can take a lot of work -- but all you have to do is look at your family to know that the effort was worth it.
-- Scott Flake is a licensed investment representative with the firm of Edward Jones. For more information, call (928) 468-1470.