Thursday, May 23, 2013

Is Time Your Ally or Enemy? 3 Ways to Make Time Your Estate Planning Ally

Whether time if your friend or enemy in your estate plan is a critical factor in whether you and your family will be protected. In this article, I explore the 3 ways you can have time be your friend and ally.

Recently, David Scott wrote in in his article about business succession planning about time as an ally or enemy to the business owner contemplating succession planning. Mr. Scott's points are well taken and apply equally to estate planning.

Time is your ally when you use time to get things done before they are needed. Any part of your estate plan, your Will, Durable Powers of Attorney, potential trusts for children etc. are all examples of documents that you may not  need until later. However, they are all documents that you can't create after they are  needed. If you get them done now, time is your friend and ally. If you wait too long, time is your enemy because you are out of time and you and your family are in trouble--it's too late to do the planning.

By doing your estate plan before it is needed, you and your family are protected against unplanned and unexpected emergencies, accidents and illnesses. That's the reason to do IT NOW! Then the plan is done, it is in place and you have used time wisely--as an ally.

Whenever you wait and procrastinate time is always your enemy. A need can arise, the family is in crisis mode or worse, chaos and it was all preventable. Solving the need is more difficult, more complex and always more expensive.

3 Ways to Have Time be Your Friend and Ally:

1. Start your estate plan now. Do it and get it done before any need arises. Starting now is easy, and will save you and your family money, heartache and TIME later. There are numerous articles here that discuss the specific components and documents your estate plan requires. Also, my firm's website has a good section on estate planning you should read.

2. Complete your plan soon after starting. I have heard stories from clients about having started a plan with a different adviser and not receiving drafts or documents for months. This is not how estate planning is done when done properly. Even complex estate plans can be designed, drafted, signed and funded in days to a few short weeks. As part of this second step, make sure assets are titled correctly and your beneficiary designations are drafted correctly.

3. Review your plan. Even after you create your plan, you want to make sure, from time to time, it does what you want. Follow the review schedule suggested by your estate planner. Staying current with changes in your family, property and the law makes time your ally.

Time can be either your friend or your enemy. The choice is yours and hopefully with these three steps, you can choose wisely. Good luck.

Please join our conversation and leave a comment or send me an email with your thoughts and ideas. Thank you.

Bernie Greenberg