A couple of recent disconnected events got me thinking about the stages of life and estate planning. As a fan of a good horror flick, the first event that caught my eye was the passing of Herschell Gordon Lewis, a horror filmmaker known as the Godfather of Gore. A couple of his more noteworthy films included “Blood Feast” and “Two Thousand Maniacs.”
Herschell was 87 years old when he died in his sleep so he had a pretty full life. That’s Herschell below trying to scare you.
The second event was a discussion I had with my buddy who’s oldest kid Jason just got engaged. Pretty cool story as Jason surprised his bride-to-be by getting on one knee on a deserted beach in Costa Rica.
One event speaks to the end of life and the other to new beginnings. Most people tend to think of estate planning more in line with the Herschell Lewis scenario and not Jason’s situation. But that is not the right way to look at estate planning. There are stages of life when proper planning is appropriate and here is how our founder Harry Barth lays them out:
If you are single, then beneficiary designations are important and you should consider a will and trust. If you go through probate, then your assets go to your parents first, then sisters/brothers, nieces/nephews, grandparents, aunts/uncles, cousins – all in that order. Nothing will go to your boyfriend, girlfriend or fiance unless you have named them as your beneficiary.
If you are married with no children, then you should focus on how to avoid probate. The law states that everything will go to your spouse, but you may get hit with probate depending on how assets are held. And probate is a public matter for anyone to witness and can be expensive. Having a living trust avoids probate.
Are you married or single with kids? Then make sure to name guardians in a will and consider how kids will inherit your assets.If you own life insurance that your kids will get, a trust can really help to protect your child from potential future creditors and from the child’s own bad decisions. If your child is not old enouth to serve as a trustee, then you will need to choose someone to step in to that role.
Maybe you are married or single with older children? This is the “sweet spot” when you should have a tight plan in place. An estate plan will take into account your home, retirement and brokerage accounts, personal property and anything else you own. Maybe one of your kids is a good fit to serve as your trustee? If so, then a family discussion about your planning is always a great idea. Talking about the potential of a long term health issue can be a positive discussion at this time in your planning life.
So there you have it, a few common stages of life and how you should think about planning for each of them. If you have questions about your stage of life and planning, you can always reach out to me about getting a “refresher”.
Feel free to click here to pick a time for me to call you, or simply hit reply to this email and let me know a good time to call.
And I always like to include our very cool 2 minute Youtube planning explainer video….
Director of Business Development