1) Believe it or not, anything that you can’t take with you in the life beyond is part of an estate.
2) For some people who think estate planning is not for them because they have not accumulated wealth but if they have accumulated debts, these are also going to be part of your estate and unfortunately something you will also leave behind to your family.
3) If you will not make a plan, the government has already made a plan for you.
So, what are you going to leave behind? To be more specific, what assets, liabilities, memories, values, relationships, favours, and goodwill your family will inherit from you?
Once you have summarized all these tangible and intangible things; you will have to answer a set of questions that are important in planning for the more tangible part of your estate such as:
1) Who is going to decide for you?
The older person is not necessarily the one who will make the decision but you can choose the one who is the most logical and capable.
2) When are you going to give up control?
Would you like to give up control while still alive? Or do you want to plan your exit? Whatever you choose, you will decide who will take control?
Without any specific planning, your assets, properties and business interests become part of your estate and will be transferred in probate according to the law.
3) How capable are they in deciding competently and logically?
A Financial Coach or Personal Finance Planner can help act as your Family Financial Advisor and help educate your children and family.
4) What are you doing today to make them capable?
You can be intentional in planning your exit and succession and prepare your family or children early in life to take stewardship seriously.
Also, good estate planning shall also include instructions on
a) The kind of care you want
b) Your legacy - how you would like your values represented through the distribution of your wealth e.g. charities, churches, education and others.
c) Total amount of life and health insurances and what are they for i.e. as income replacement for sickness, disability, dismemberment, death, and long-term care
The sooner you prepare the details of your estate, the more you can plan in reducing your taxes, court costs, and unnecessary legal fees, and the better for your peace of mind and wellbeing.
5) When is best to plan for this?
Frankly, moving to the next life is something we cannot control so you include this in your financial planning the way you plan your education or retirement.
Your financial plan is not set in stone but should be reviewed and updated as your personal life and financial situations including the laws change over your lifetime.