Before you head off on your next adventure ask yourself – Is everything handles and up-to-date?
Your normal life seems a million miles away. This is the first time you have been able to go away together, just the two of you. It seems like just yesterday the kids were chasing fireflies in the back yard after the family barbeque. Time seems to have a way of accelerating. They are now grown and the loss of everyday contact has given you both newfound freedom and independence.
As you built your lives together, you also built a good nest egg to use during your retirement. Your clipping coupons and discussions with financial advisors has paid off. You now have the flexibility to do what you want without undue financial constraint. You no longer need to have a diet of tomato soup and bread from the discount aisle.
So, now the two of you are taking the second honeymoon you always talked about, but were not really sure you would ever be able to do. As the flight lifts off, the everyday worries slip behind you faster than the miles themselves. The kids are taking care of the house and the mail. You have a cell phone with you if an emergency arises.
And you took care of the issue that had been bothering you: If something happens to us while we are gone, will everything be taken care of? You had been intending to do this for years. But, the last time you revised your estate planning documents was when the kids were born. While it seems like yesterday, it was many years ago and much has changed since then. They no longer need guardians, and the ones you appointed all those years ago are no longer around to do the job anyway. And, through your saving, you now have a sizeable estate.
So, you quit procrastinating and went to see a qualified estate planning attorney. You revised your wills, created a revocable living trust, and executed powers of attorney for property and health care. These basic documents form the foundation of your estate plan. The trust ensures that your assets avoid probate and that you are taken care of during any period of incapacity. The powers of attorney also help during periods of incapacity. At the attorney’s suggestion, you had the trust continue even after your deaths. By having the assets go to the kids in trust, you protect them from the claims of a future ex-spouse and creditors. While you trust their judgment, you also recognize that they may not be as lucky as the two of you were in finding a soulmate in a spouse.
Of course, the trust also takes advantage of tax exemptions and ensures that your heirs will pay the minimum estate tax necessary. The attorney also suggested some advanced planning strategies to think about, including some charitable tools. Those conversations await you upon your return to the States. But now, you are halfway across the Atlantic and your spouse is snuggled against your shoulder with a mind unburdened by worries. What a priceless feeling!
Compliments of the McGee Law Firm, Attorney Brandon McGee
Written By: The American Academy of Estate Planning Attorneys