Do You Believe These 3 Myths of Estate Planning?
It's a topic most of us don't want to talk about, especially with our loved ones. Yet, that's precisely why we have to talk about it. It IS for our loved ones. There is just no way to sugar-coat it. Now, more than ever, women, especially in midlife, need to address estate planning.
If there's anything this pandemic has taught us, it's vital to have our legacy and wishes made known through having proper estate documents in place.
Too many have put it off for too long, and here's why.
Three Myths About Legacy Planning
- It's expensive
- It's complicated
- It's only for the very wealthy.
The reality is that regardless of how little you think you have, if you don't plan to protect it, the government has a plan for you, and that's not the plan you want.
According to the Wall Street Journal's SmartMoney Magazine, "If you have some assets (maybe just a car and some nice furniture) or minor children, you still need an estate plan -- even if taxes are not an issue."
You may be thinking, "Yes, I know. I'll get to it someday." Someday doesn't happen. It has been heart-wrenching to read stories of pandemic patients who have not made their wishes known.
"But, Patty, this is so morbid to think about."
Well, it can be if you look at it that way. It can also be the greatest gift you give to your heirs or anyone responsible for your arrangements.
That's why I'm sharing my personal story with you.
Two Families - Two Different Outcomes
First, my dad:
In May 2004, my father passed away after suffering a massive stroke the year before, nearly to the day. He was 66 years old. It was challenging to carry on a conversation with him during that entire year because of the stroke, much less address estate issues.
While he had a basic will, it was outdated and not enough to protect his assets (as little as they were) from the courts, 18 months of probate, and thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
My in-laws were public school educators in the city of Milwaukee. By most standards, they were not wealthy people. Yet, they had every detail of their estate in a trust and their wishes planned and documented.
In October 2013, my father-in-law passed away within one week after being diagnosed with a rare blood cancer form. He was 83. In June of 2019, my mother-in-law suddenly passed from an aortic aneurysm. She was 87.
When my father-in-law passed away, all assets seamlessly transferred to my mother-in-law. She knew exactly how to make preparations for his service. She, my husband, and his sisters were was able to properly celebrate his life.
When my mother-in-law passed away, her wishes were carried out "to the letter." The trust was distributed within three months, bypassing the courts, probate, and saving potentially thousands of dollars in attorney fees.
Yet, 56% of Americans do not have any estate planning documents, and only 23% of Americans over age 50 have a trust. And for women, especially in midlife, it's even more crucial to have your estate planning in order.
MidLife Women, Here's Why for Starters:
- Women tend to outlive men, which means that you are more than likely to survive your spouse if you are married.
- If there is a second marriage in midlife, you need estate documents to ensure any children from a previous marriage are not disinherited.
- If you're single, you still need basic estate planning documents unless you want your state's laws to dictate who will receive your possessions.
And, as I mentioned earlier, this is probably the greatest gift you can give to your heirs or anyone responsible for your arrangements.
With that said, over the coming weeks, I am going to address legacy and estate planning, but not in the typical, yawning way you may think. I'll be sharing real stories and the information you need to help you move forward with this essential piece of your financial planning journey.
So, if you aren't already, be sure you stay subscribed to our weekly MidLife Money Talk newsletter in case you don’t catch the blog posts.
And, if you're ready to get help with your Legacy Planning, then let's chat.
Until next time,
Patty Bonsera, CFEI, is a former Securities Trader who became a Financial Wellness Advisor to women 40+. In an industry built for men, she founded Fear.less Girl Financial as a better way for midlife women to have financial clarity, confidence, and wellness. She will coach you, teach you, and celebrate with you every step of the way.