Estate Planning in Uncertain Times

When I assist people in estate planning, we look at many scenarios.  We plan for the “god forbids” and hope they never happen, but if they do, that they happen far down the road. Who wants to plan 20, 30 or 40 years out when their true concern is how bad or good their portfolio will look tomorrow?

I understand. In these uncertain times (and yes, we see a recovery happening, but who knows how much or how fast?), many people are afraid to engage in estate planning. Forget uncertain times… even in good times, 60% or more of adults in this country don’t plan! It’s no wonder I get calls daily to help clean up messes on estates where the deceased person left no will.

For those that don’t plan during uncertain times, they likely believe that whatever they put on paper today, will change tomorrow. Very true. However, I approach estate planning as a lifelong process, one that doesn’t stop after the first time you create a plan. Just as our lives change on a regular basis, so to should our estate plan. If we thought about estate planning as a one-time process, we would all be in a stalemate.

Remember, what you put on paper today is not written in stone. You can always change it tomorrow. In fact, I encourage my clients to continue to update their plan (with the assistance of an attorney) whenever something significant in their lives change, and to at least review their plan every few years.

For our readers that do have plans, have you thought about your plan, and has it been reviewed and updated in the last few years? For those that don’t have plans, is it because it just hasn’t been the “right time” yet? Even in the most uncertain of times, having a plan will only benefit your heirs and loved ones. Now is the right time to update your plan, and to create one if you don’t yet have one.