The Process of Estate Planning
The motto of the Boy Scouts of America, founded in 1910, is “Be Prepared”. Estate planners should adopt the same motto. Everyone needs a solid estate plan to “be prepared” for life’s certainties which always include death and often include disabilities.
The Process of Estate Planning in MN
In order to start their preparation for planning their estates, every Minnesotan can benefit from a basic education about Minnesota law as it relates to wills, trusts, the probate process, powers of attorney and the Minnesota Health Care Directive.
In addition, it is necessary for each one of us to carefully assess our estate planning goals and concerns and collect the necessary detailed information about our families and our assets. Once this has been done, an estate planning attorney can recommend an estate plan tailored to your needs, goals and objectives.
Once the necessary documents have been prepared, your attorney will meet with you to review your documents in detail to ensure that your needs and goals are being met.
The attorney will then help you properly execute your documents and help with updating your beneficiary designations. After you sign your documents, you may also need help with properly “funding” any trusts you have executed and/or filing real estate documents for record with the proper county office.
Procrastination is your enemy!
Estate planning is like exercise. Everyone knows it’s a good idea, but most of us just can’t seem to get around to doing it! It’s much easier to procrastinate.
The certainty that the only certainties in life are death and taxes has existed almost since time immemorial. These certainties are a fundamental part of life and nobody should shy away from these difficult issues simply because they are difficult.
Most of us go through life thinking we are going to live forever, even though we all know we will die eventually. But for the reasons discussed below it but it is incumbent upon each and every one of us to plan for this event.
People want to do the right thing for themselves and their families. But, all too often, their good intentions have tragic results. The sad part is these unhappy endings are often avoidable. If they had just known what could happen, chances are they would have done things differently.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is the process of protecting your assets while you are still alive and able to make sound decisions. Estate planning is your opportunity to make sure your assets are properly handled and distributed after you die.
Estate planning is preparing for the inevitable—our death.
We all know – rationally- that at some point we are going to die. We may die young, in our 50s, 60s, 70s, or beyond. It is never possible to predict when any of us might reach our “expiration date”. But we DO know that death in inevitable.
Like all good Boy Scouts, we need to be prepared! Estate planning something we ALL need to do—regardless of our age, marital status, or wealth—if we want to keep control of our assets (our “estate”) and of decisions about our medical care when something happens to us.
It’s important to plan now, while we can, because with estate planning, no one gets a second chance.