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Friday, December 30, 2016

The Promises We Keep

We all make promises, be they solemn (“till death do us part”) or playful (“there are no monsters under the bed.”)  Many promises define our character and reinforce our relationships with those we love.  As a new year approaches, promises traditionally take the form of resolutions. Perhaps your 2017 resolutions include adding regular exercise to your daily routine, or eating a diet that contains more fruits and vegetables. This year, why not add to your list of resolutions the promise of protecting those you love? Consider the following:

  • Who will take care of me if I can’t take care of myself?  Do I have adequate insurance?  Is there a clear successor to manage my financial and business affairs?  Are my personal wishes set forth in writing so they are known and accessible when needed?
  • After I am gone, how will my family and loved ones manage the debts, taxes, and other legal obligations I leave behind?  Have I laid out a way forward to reach important family and financial goalsWho will take over my business if I am disabled or gone?  What can I do to increase the probability that my business will survive after me?
  • Who will care for my young children if my spouse and I cannot?  What financial protection and instructions have I left for their care?
  • When and how will my spouse, children and other loved ones receive their inheritance?  How can I be sure they receive their gifts in a manner which maximizes use and enjoyment and protects against creditors and predators? 

Thinking about these matters is daunting.  But because we care about our families we are obligated to raise the questions and explore the answers.  As spouses, we want to provide the resources and safeguards to make our loved ones’ futures more secure.  As parents, we want our children to have a happy and secure life, especially if that life does not include us.

Why not resolve to start the process of caring for your family should something happen to you?  The first step is to meet with a qualified estate planning attorney to design and put into place a plan which will ensure that these are promises you can keep.

If you have already done your estate planning, good for you!  You should also make a habit of reviewing your plan, including beneficiary designations for insurance policies, retirement accounts and 401(k) plans.  Changes in your financial situation, family circumstances, and the law all conspire to make the review, revision, and updating of your estate plan essential.


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