Estate plans function more like car insurance, you can't wait until you have had an accident to get insurance. The earlier you create your estate plan the more protected you will be. You either have it or don't, and you and your family will suffer the consequences of you not having a plan.
If you learn one thing from this article let it be this:
Estate plans have countdown clocks. We don't know when the time will run out but there is definitely a time limit to get it done.
Death isn't like you see on tv,
more often it is a much longer more traumatic process. What does that mean? It seems like some people become trapped between earth and heaven (or where ever you believe we go).
Very rarely is it a quick transition from this world to the next. Sometimes you are tipped off by your doctors that the end is coming but what happens when that person does not have an estate plan and it's too late to get one.
Often a loved one suffers a traumatic injury that doesn't take them away it just grounds them and makes fighting for their life the most important priority. It's too late for the estate plan conversation.
Some people may be in an accident that leaves them paralyzed, others go in the hospital and are told they have a short time to live and are sent to hospice.
No matter the specific situation the person who once made all the decisions about their life is now unable to function in that capacity. The person is in and out of the hospital but they still have rent to pay, car notes, insurance premiums, and so many other bills that need to get paid so how do you get this done without all the red tape?
Usually, the family members step up and they find a way to get it done. But that’s not always feasible depending on the bill. And they may get away with helping out as long as the person is alive but then after the person is gone it gets worse because that same car that you were able to pay for while they were alive the lender is going to try and repossess after they pass away and they if you don’t have the credit to take over the loan they’re not gonna let you pay for somebody else’s property especially a deceased person's loan.
Life goes on while you are fighting for your life so who is making sure your mortgage is paid, your credit cards haven't been stolen, your Amazon account hasn't been hacked and all your bills are paid?
You never know what your life holds. I know someone who went to the doctor complaining about a rash. Days later they coded (stopped breathing) and had to be rushed to the hospital. Since then, they were released but have coded 3 more times ended up in 3 different facilities in the last few months.
They didn't have a power of attorney for financial matters to ensure while they were fighting for their life the person they designated could maintain the house and take care of any other financial responsibilities like the autopayments for Netflix, Directv, Hulu, and Amazon subscribe and save. So what now? Do you think corporations truly care what state of mind and/or health you are in?
The people fighting for their life also didn't have a will and it is too late to get one drafted (remember the countdown clock?).
The person helping them pay all their bills and take care of their affairs isn't usually the person who receives anything from the estate. Anyone seeing why there is so much anger and animosity about money after someone dies?
Do yourself and your family a favor. Create your estate plan today, BEFORE YOU THINK YOU NEED IT.
Not ready to speak with an attorney yet, read Controlling Your Legacy for a comprehensive understanding of the documents you need to create your estate plan.
Jala Eaton, Esq, CTFA is an estate planning attorney, fiduciary, and certified trust and fiduciary advisor with a mission to empower people to build and protect their assets through investing and estate planning. The racial wealth gap is the problem and Generational wealth is the goal and the solution. When not advising her clients or talking about money on her blog and Instagram she likes to attend concerts (pre-covid-19) and the private dance parties her daughter holds in their living room.
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