As we approach St. Valentine’s Day, many will be considering a gift of candy, chocolate or roses.
Although these are always welcomed gifts, there might be a better way to express your love this year.
We have the ability to leave a legacy of information, harmony and love. Or we can leave a legacy of frustration, angst, and hurt feelings. Let’s discuss six ways to say, “I love you” this Valentine’s Day.
- Establish your Will and/or Trust.
- Sign a Power Of Attorney.
- Sign Health Care Directive/Living Will.
- Keep beneficiary forms up to date.
- Review your life insurance coverage.
- Make a list of your assets.
The following discussion is about something that will happen. Darn it. There is nothing we can do about it. The transition of your assets will occur. Ownership, management, and control will pass to someone else.
These transitions can pose many problems if not handled correctly. However, when you have your documents up to date, you tell your family that you love them!
Let’s talk about each of these six items:
1. Establish Your Will and/or Trust.
One of the best ways to say I love you is to establish your Will and if needed a Trust. By doing this, you will allow your family peace of mind knowing that you have planned and prepared. This way, bitter fights and much consternation can be avoided.
2. Sign a Power of Attorney.
This document allows you to nominate another person to handle your financial activities. This person can pay bills, renew CDs, work with the bank, and handle your finances when you are unable to.
3. Sign Health Care Directive/Living Will.
As the Power of Attorney allows someone to handle your finances, this important document expresses your wishes as to the medical treatment to your body, if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself. Do you want extraordinary like a feeding tube, breathing machine, other medical care? Do you want to donate your organs? Do you want your religious beliefs honored? Who do you want making these decisions for you? When you sign this document, you let your family know your wishes.
4. Keep Beneficiary Forms up to Date.
With IRA’s, 401(k)s, Life Insurance and other financial products, often a beneficiary is selected. When you name a beneficiary, a legally binding contract is created between the you and the company. Even if the you later remarry, or officially ‘disowns’ a family member, the selected beneficiary will receive monies when you die. This contract takes precedents over any other instruction, like a Will or Trust.
5. Review Your Life Insurance Coverage.
Many of us don’t like the thought of dying, and when we consider life insurance, we consider our own mortality. We know we are going to die, but we just don’t want to think about it. Unfortunately, a life insurance purchase is not a “buy it and forget it” proposition. Your life and needs chance all the time which requires a review of your existing coverages. And the policy itself needs to be reviewed for financial soundness.
6. Make a List of Your Assets.
If you are unable to tell others where your bank account, stock account or other assets are, then they will have a terrible time trying to put your financial puzzle together. A fabulous way to put your assets in one neat list is by using the eBooklet, Your Family’s Guiding Light, which can be downloaded free of charge at www.YourFamilysGuidingLight.com.
Perhaps one of the best ways to say "I love you" is to create your estate planning documents and keep beneficiary information updated. Through your documents, you get to say, “I love you.” Creating estate documents is one of the gifts we can give our family, that will last much longer than those chocolates!
Shak Hill, CFP®, CLU®, ChFC® is the headmaster of Guiding Light University whose sole mission is to Financially Empower Women. Learn more, click here.
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