Rhonda Maco, ESQ.
ARE YOU PREPARED?
Updated: Feb 18, 2019
When it comes to securing your future and protecting your assets, there are two categories of people: 1. Planners and 2. Non-planners. While the first category of people may be easy to discuss, I find it would be more helpful to you if I discuss converting the second category of people into the first category of people.
The second category of people tend to view their estate matters and financial stability the same way they view other areas of their lives. That is, they consistently tell themselves that they don’t have much in the way of assets or they feel that since they don’t have kids it’s not necessary to plan that far ahead. Throw in the fact that they may have a few siblings they can’t stand and right now they’re not speaking to mom or dad, and you have a problem. All of this makes for a recipe for disaster. In other words, these people tend to shrug off estate planning as something they will deal with later or when they really need to think about it…which in their mind is no time soon. This type of thinking is quite prevalent, but extremely dangerous.
What non-planners fail to realize is that when you fail to protect your assets, 95% of the time you cannot fix your failure to plan once tragedy strikes. Non-planners really do not understand that, unlike other areas in your life, you cannot operate in crisis mode and magically fix the problem because the tragedy may render you unable to make decisions for yourself. Quite frankly, that’s exactly what happens often times and therein lies the problem with non-planners; not only did they fail to make the proper provisions about their estate matters, they never even had a conversation with a loved one about how they wanted their assets distributed. Non-planners tend to operate their lives in crisis mode while being lulled into a false sense of security that this type of lifestyle works in their favor.
Don’t misunderstand me; I get it and I’ve done it myself plenty of times. We've all done it at one time or another. You know what I mean. We’ve waited until the last minute to do something that should have been done long time ago. For me, it was a habit I developed early on and continued to navigate skillfully throughout my educational career. I can’t tell you how many times I finished a college paper at the last minute and received an ‘A’ on that paper. My adrenaline was high, and my creative juices were flowing the night before the paper was due. I continued to operate this way for years and never looked back. I operated this way fully accepting the risk that my computer would crash or that my printer wouldn’t work during those critical hours and I couldn’t turn in the paper on time. It’s a risk I took, and it paid off; Thankfully, I never experienced a problem with handing in an assignment on time, even though I operated in crisis mode and there was no real good reason why I waited until the last minute in the first place.
But now here’s the thing. The worse that could have happened to me back then is that I turned in my paper late and perhaps received a letter grade lower than what I deserved. Big deal! Now on the other
hand, what is the worse that can happen to you if you fail to protect your assets????? The list of problems is plenty, and the result could be one or all of the following:
1. Your assets being distributed by someone who knows nothing about you and how you wanted your assets distributed;
2. Allowing the court system and ruling authorities assess and obtain fees from your estate for being intimately involved with the administration and distribution of your estate; and
3. The prospect of not passing on the wealth you created to your next of kin or family members who you intended to gain from your financial successes.
Do I need to go on???? I think not. Start protecting yourself, your estate and your prosperity now. Learn to get out of crisis mode and get into planning mode. Planning does not begin when you get married and/or have kids; it begins well before then. Here are two (2) key ways you can jump-start your asset protection planning process:
Who Do You Consider Family?
A. Map Out Your Family Tree – whether you’re married, divorced, single or if you are an only child or have ten (10) siblings, start with who you consider to be your immediate family and work your way back. Understand who your family is, what your relation to them is and how they fit into your life. Be honest with yourself about your relationships so you can clearly think about who and what role you may want people to play in the distribution of your estate. This process may take a minute so grab a cup of your favorite beverage and put the pen and paper to work.
How Healthy Are You?
B. Understand your Health Status and Medical History – When was the last time you had a complete physical? Are you finding it difficult to come up with the year of your last physical? This is not good. Many people are content with not knowing their medical status. They go years without getting a check-up or having blood draw until something feels out of place. Then they are forced to go to the doctor only to find out something really is wrong, and they don’t have much time to correct what they’ve ignored for so long. Don’t let that be you. If you haven’t had a physical in a while, schedule one as soon as possible. Know your medical status and confront any diagnosis with confidence and diligence. Use the act of getting a physical examination as a spring board to getting your act together to protect what you’ve earned in your lifetime. Once you know where you stand medically, call mom, dad, uncle, aunt or grandma and find out about your family medical history so you have the whole picture of where you come from and what may be in store for you and any offspring you may have.
These two (2) starting points will help you ignite the planning process with focus. Don’t throw away all the financial progress you’ve made. Be in control of your finances and how you want your estate to continue in the future. This is a great time to start. Don't put this off any longer.
Stay tuned for our Blog next month which will focus on this planning series. We will continue with the next steps in the planning process for protecting your assets. Tune in every month on the 15th for these tips and more. Thanks for reading…now start planning!