Being As Responsible As I Canwebdev
I have been thinking a lot about my mortality lately. No, I don’t have any premonitions, but Julia and I just updated our Revocable Living Trust and it always makes me think about my life, my relationships, and whether or not I am doing all I can for my family.
My first job right after discharge from the Navy in 1987 was selling pre-need cemetery plots.
I was in South Carolina and after 6 months I became the top salesman for Memorial Gardens Plantation.
This was an eye-opener for me!
I was 26-years-old and boy did I get an education on death and everything related to it. I believed in my product (the pre-need purchase of burial plots and associated items, a 100% need for every human being) and that I was saving families thousands of dollars by making the purchase before the death of a loved one. But what really cemented it for me was the following experience.
One evening while I was preparing to make my house calls to pre-arranged appointments, a beautiful young woman came into the cemetery office with a baby in her arms.
She was crying and I suddenly realized something terrible had happened and I was witnessing a young widow making funeral arrangements.
I watched in shock as the cemetery director explained to this distraught woman the typical procedures and costs and need for a vault, a casket, the headstone, etc.
His matter-of-fact explanation is not what bothered me. What infuriated me was the way in which he was leading her to purchase the most expensive items, appealing to her loss and love for her husband.
I was so upset that I determined right there that I would work even harder to persuade people make all of these arrangements pre-need, which translated into thousands of dollars in savings, but also having these kinds of arrangements taken care of before the event of death, the survivors would be saved tremendous agony and heart ache. Since that experience, I have always had life insurance, a will, and later an estate plan.
I am not rich by any stretch of the imagination, so my estate is small, but I just feel so much better knowing that Julia and the kids will not have to make a bunch of decisions upon my eventual passing. If they want to be mad about the decisions made, they can be upset with me–the one who is gone, not with each other.
Do you have your affairs in order?
Do you have a solid retirement plan in place?
Do you have a current estate plan in place?
Are you willing to take the time and expense to do all of these hard things now while you can for your loved ones, or are you going to leave it to them during their grief?
Estate Planning is an integral part of wealth building.
Without an estate plan, everything you treasure will be left to chance and likely loss.
But these losses are often just the “tip of the iceberg”. The horror stories associated with disagreements over who gets what and when and even how, are what divides families and often destroys relationships for a lifetime.
By creating an estate plan you control all these decisions, relieving your loved ones of the stress and hardship they would have faced had you not been proactive.
There is one fact of life we all face; death. We know that death is unavoidable, and can happen at anytime and anywhere. Stop and think; you have home owners insurance despite not thinking your home is going to burn down, and car insurance even though you don’t expect to be in an accident.
You insure your home and car in case something does happen. Having a comprehensive estate plan is how you control your estate, and make tough decisions when life’s inevitable events do occur.
In the best selling book “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Steven Covey emphasizes the importance of planning. Two of Steven’s habits speak directly to the importance of estate planning.
Habit 1 – “Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your life”. Comprehensive estate planning is all about being proactive.
Habit 2 – “Begin with the end in mind.” Estate planning is about you being in control over how you want your life to “play out,” and how critical decisions will be made when it becomes necessary.
Julia and I just updated our estate plan. It may not be the most enjoyable activity, but Julia feels so much more secure and I feel like I am being as responsible as I can.
How Much Does Estate-planning Cost?
I did some digging and found a basic range of family estate planning costs from $1,800 to $6,500 per living trust. Also, you should plan needing to update at least every few years, figure about $300-$500 per update. I am sure there are cheaper and more expensive planning options, but this is what I found.
Who Should Do Your Planning?
I also researched a little on this and found anything from do-it-yourself websites to attorneys who are happy to have you in their office during multiple sessions, as long as you don’t mind all of those billable hours.
For those who have little time and want to get it safely done with as little fuss as possible, we suggest taking at look at Strongbrook’s Estate Planning Program.