You only have three options – so why make it a big deal?

When life gives you many options – then you truly have some things to consider.

It is probably for this reason that we see more people lingering longer at the ice cream freezers than in any other aisle in the store – so many delicious choices!!

But when it comes to end of life planning – there are only a couple of options.

And that is what Estate Planning is all about.  Often confused with Financial Planning, which is the process of “growing” your estate, Estate Planning is about the “distribution” of your estate when you are no longer here.

And make no mistake about it – we all have an Estate, big or small, we all have ‘stuff’. The first mistake people make when it comes to estate planning is thinking they don’t have enough to cause a fight.

Estate Planning, properly done, will also include Living Benefits. This refers to the plans you make to protect yourself and your loved ones if illness or accident makes it difficult to care for yourself.

So what are the three options that each of us has?

Number one – do nothing.  The term for this in dying ‘Intestate’. If a person dies intestate, the state in which they life will provide a standard Will for them, which is often not representative of what the person would want for themselves or their family.

Number two – a basic plan. This would include a Will, Powers of Attorney, and a Living Will.  While a complete review of your personal situation by a qualified Estate Planning Attorney is the best way to determine if this is the right option for you, a basic plan works well for someone who is willing to accept the cost of time and money and frustration that can accompany the probate process. The fact that the probate process happens in the courts and becomes a part of public records is also a major factor why some people would prefer a method other than a basic plan.

Number three – a comprehensive plan. This option would often include a Revocable Living Trust, Powers of Attorney, a Living Will as well as other well designed methods for the trouble free distribution of assets. Historically considered something for people with large estates, a trust has become a popular choice for people that want their loved ones to avoid the probate process and the emotional and financial burdens it can create. Done properly, a comprehensive plan can be less expensive than a basic plan.

In summary – if doing nothing leads to the state providing a will – then we actually have only two choices – a Will or a Trust.  We will learn more about these two options in future articles.

So if you and I and everyone in America have only two choices, not three or four or more, it seems that the responsible thing to do would be to decide which is right for you, and get it done.

Better yet – use the Once & Done method to assure your planning remains right for you your lifetime.