The words, “Beware the Ides of March,” were famously uttered by a soothsayer to the great Roman leader Julius Caesar, in Shakespeare’s play by the same name, as the fateful day of Caesar’s assassination. Ever since, March 15th has become associated with prophecies of doom. What lesson can be taken from this ancient literary and cultural allusion, especially concerning your legacy planning?
Imagine that you’re in a consultation with an estate planning attorney and are asked, “Did you bring your crystal ball today, or a four-leaf
clover?” What thoughts come to mind? Very few of us have the ability to predict what challenges life will throw our way in the days, months, or years to come. And far too many of us are counting on luck to help us navigate those turbulent times. There is a better way. Here are a few simple estate planning steps you can take toward the ever-important mission of protecting your loved ones and preserving your
KNOW YOUR NET WORTH
First thing’s first: do you even know what you own and what it’s worth? Many people fail to recognize that they have an estate to protect, and that is a big problem. Take an inventory and include all your assets, such as your home and other real estate, vehicles, bank accounts,
business and ranch interests, retirement and investment accounts, CDs, mineral interests, collectibles, and more. And don’t forget about life insurance. These are all part of your estate and add up to significant wealth that needs to be planned for.
DEFINE YOUR OBJECTIVES
The most difficult part of any planning is seeing the “end game,” defining with precision what you want to accomplish and when. Too many people procrastinate in their legacy planning, when the real problem is being able to identify all the options of an estate plan and how they fit together. These are complicated topics that often require the help and direction of a trained professional to draw the map for the journey. Don’t go it alone.
DON’T COUNT ON LUCK
As with any important goal, estate planning takes an investment of time, energy, and diligence to be successful. Don’t be lured into thinking you have all the time in the world to address these life-defining issues because of your illusion of youth and good health. When tragedy strikes, and it will strike, that good luck charm in your pocket won’t get you too far. Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
IDENTIFY YOUR DECISION MAKERS
The idea of giving over control of your affairs to somebody else is daunting, sometimes enlarging the sense of future doom. A better
perspective is to envision the peace of mind it brings to complete your “succession plan.” Of course, you have to know and trust the people who will be responsible for your life, estate and affairs when you can no longer be in charge. It is a far better situation to make those
decisions now while you have the ability to do so than to be the victim of self-neglect or to go through a court process when time has run out.
UNDERSTAND THAT THERE ARE MANY OPTIONS AND GET HELP
As with a precious gem, your life, family and estate have many facets. So too should your estate plan. There is no one-size-fits-all plan that can ever address the complexities and nuances of your life. Working with a legal expert, such as Aspen Legacy Planning, who specializes in estate planning and elder law is the best way to ensure that your objectives are defined with clarity, your plans are drawn to meet the unique circumstances, and the task is completed with efficiency. There is simply no substitute for having professional guidance in these endeavors to protect against the Ides of March tragedy.