Thanksgiving is almost here. Ideally, this holiday should be about more than turkey, football, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. After all, the idea behind Thanksgiving is to share what we have with our loved ones. But if you want your family to take part in your abundance, you will want to look beyond one day in November. To help ensure you leave the type of legacy you desire, you will need to follow a detailed plan of action, including these steps:
Review your estate plans
If you haven’t done so already, take this opportunity to review your plans for managing your estate—and if you haven’t yet drawn them up, it’s never too soon to start. You may want to work with a legal professional to create a will, living trust and other documents essential to your plan.
Preserve financial independence
If your financial independence were to be jeopardized, your adult children might be forced to use their own resources to help support you—an outcome you obviously would never want. How can you protect yourself and your financial assets? For one thing, it’s a good idea to work with your legal professional to create a power of attorney, which would enable someone—possibly a grown child—to make financial decisions for you, should you become incapacitated. Also, you may want to guard yourself against the devastating costs of long-term care, such as an extended nursing home stay.
Consider this: The average annual cost for a private room in a nursing home is more than $97,000, according to a survey by the insurance company Genworth. Furthermore, Medicare typically pays very little for these expenses. Consequently, you may want to consider protecting yourself in advance by purchasing long-term care insurance or permanent life insurance with a long-term care provision. A financial professional can help you evaluate your options and recommend which ones might be appropriate for your needs.
Share your wishes with your family.
It can take some time to put your plans in place—and, even then, you may need to make changes periodically, based on altered circumstances in your life, such as changes in your marital status, new family members, new property, etc. In any case, as your estate- and legacy-based plans evolve, you’ll want to communicate them to your family—because, by doing so, you can help spare them some potentially unpleasant surprises when it’s time to settle your estate.
Also, by making your wishes known to your family far ahead of when any action needs to be taken, you’ll help prepare the right people for the roles you wish them to assume—power of attorney, executor of your estate, and so on.
You’ll also want to acquaint your family with the legal, tax and financial professionals you’ve selected to work on your estate and legacy plans. By introducing these professionals early on, you can provide your family members with a greater degree of confidence in the overall estate-planning process.
Thanksgiving goes by in a blur. But by taking the steps described above, along with others, you can demonstrate the spirit of sharing with your family for years—and even possibly generations—to come.