I know that all of these “special days” and “special months” might seem a bit excessive, but in some cases, I believe they might be helpful. For example, October is estate planning month. Let’s face it, we probably don’t want to talk about estate planning. So maybe having an estate planning month kinda reminds us that it’s important and we need to work on it.
Regular readers of Unretirement Project know that Keith and I have been writing about this topic for a while. We’ve been working on our estate plans on and off for a couple of years. Yes, that’s not a typo. Estate planning can be complicated. One document might not cover everything. So, if you’re looking for some resources to start your estate planning process, here are a few articles to get you started:
It might take some time to figure out how you would like your health care treatment handled and who you would like to be your spokesperson. And then of course, there’s the decision of backups in case your first choice isn’t willing or able to take on this responsibility. The point being, the process of putting these plans in place takes time. The ideal time to do all of this is when you’re not under the pressure of having to do it.
Talking about illness and death isn’t fun. None of us want to do it. I remember every time we visited my father-in-law, he would at some point have the “When I die…” conversation. On one hand, you dread it. That’s not why you came to visit. It’s to enjoy his company. But when his health did start failing, we were prepared. And it allowed us to focus on making his final days comfortable versus worrying about papers, insurance, etc.
The AARP Foundation offers a personal estate planning lesson book and record book for download. The documents might be a good way to start conversations like “Who should be my executor?” and “Do I need a trust?” The recordkeeping guide is just that – a place to record information in case someone needs it and you’re not in a position to tell them.
We found out quickly that you should have a Plan A, Plan B, and at least a Plan C when it comes to estate planning. It turns out that different states have different laws regarding things like taxes and executors. And if your will doesn’t follow the laws for your state, chances are the estate will be disposed by probate court. That could mean additional costly headaches for heirs and family.
Most of us can readily think of bank accounts, investments, and insurance when estate planning. But we tend to overlook who should be responsible for our digital streaming accounts when we can no longer Netflix and chill. Take a moment to think of the things you send to cloud storage, and you will see why planning for your digital estate is just as important as who gets your home or car when you’re gone.
Estate planning isn’t the sexiest activity, but it’s a necessary one. We want others to know our final wishes and we want them to respect them. The best time to put these plans in place is when you have the time and the budget to do it.