Secure Your Loved Ones' Future: A Guide to Taking Control
Planning for the future can feel daunting, but preparing for our eventual passing is an act of care for those we leave behind. It helps ensure their well-being and minimizes burdens during what will already be a difficult time.
As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I see firsthand the benefits of having an estate plan in place. This comprehensive set of documents, often including a will, power of attorney documents, and sometimes a trust, outlines your wishes and protects your loved ones. Unfortunately, I've found that many, particularly women, may delay creating an estate plan due to concerns about cost, paperwork, or simply facing their own mortality. But putting it off can expose your estate to unnecessary taxes, lawsuits, and even family conflicts.
Let's explore some concrete steps you can take, right now, to empower your loved ones and help secure your legacy:
- Confirm Beneficiaries:
- Review bank accounts, retirement accounts, and life insurance policies to ensure beneficiaries are accurate and up to date.
- In North Carolina, consider adding "Transfer on Death" or "Payable on Death" designations to single accounts for easy transfer.
- Designate Your Wishes:
- Utilize the North Carolina Secretary of State website to download and complete Advance Health Care Directives, including a living will and power of attorney for healthcare. Register these documents for easy access by medical professionals. https://www.sosnc.gov/divisions/advance_healthcare_directives
- Share copies of these directives with your primary healthcare provider.
- Stay Organized:
- Create a list of family members, friends, and institutions needing notification in case of emergency.
- Maintain an updated inventory of bank accounts, brokerage firms, insurance companies, and credit card companies, with relevant phone numbers and account details.
- Consider password management services or a secure list for crucial login information.
- Embrace Technology:
- Utilize encrypted online vaults provided by banks or financial institutions to safely store digital copies of your list, directives, and insurance policies.
- Plan for Dependents:
- If you have minor children, identify potential guardians and discuss care arrangements.
- For elderly or pet dependents, ensure their welfare if you're unable to provide care.
Beyond these initial steps, meeting with an estate attorney is crucial for creating a personalized plan. The estate attorney may address specific concerns, like family-owned businesses or wealth management, and offer legal guidance tailored to your situation.
Remember, storing your estate plan in a fireproof safe at home and informing a trusted person about its location helps ensure prompt access when needed. Avoid safe deposit boxes, as accessing them after your passing requires additional legal steps
Taking control of your future empowers your loved ones and brings peace of mind. Act now in seeking professional guidance and start building a secure legacy for those you care about most. If you'd like an estate attorney recommendation, speak to your CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or tax professional. Taking proactive steps today can make a world of difference tomorrow.
Wendolyn Forbes is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Wealth Transition Finance, A Member of Advisory Services Network, LLC. Wendolyn is a fee-only financial planner and member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). For more information, please visit her website at www.wtf-asn.com.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP® (with flame design) in the US, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
This material is provided as a courtesy and for educational purposes only. Advisory Services Network, LLC does not provide tax advice. The tax information contained herein is general and is not exhaustive by nature. Federal and state laws are complex and constantly changing. Consult your own legal or tax professional for information concerning your individual situation.