An estate plan is an important and necessary protection for your family, but it doesn’t do you much good if it is a dusty binder on your basement bookshelf. You need a plan for how to activate this plan and make it work for you when you need it. The whole point of your estate plan is to care for your family in a disaster, so you want to be able to utilize it when you need it.
Having safety nets such as life insurance, proper savings, disability insurance, and your estate plan are important steps to protecting your family’s security if either you or your spouse are disabled, suffer illness, lose employment, or die. However, once people have these protections in place, they often neglect the practical side of things.
You have life insurance, but have you made a plan for someone (your personal representative) to contact your life insurance company and activate those benefits for your family in the case of death? You own a house, but do you have a plan for how the mortgage, power, and water will be paid? You have a guardian appointed, but what will it look like to make sure they are contacted and your children are settled in with them?
What you need is a practical plan to execute your safety nets. This applies not only to death, but should also account for extreme illness, absence, or temporary or permanent incapacity. And this should go without saying, but it should account for these events to occur suddenly and unexpectedly.
Over the next two posts, I will cover practical considerations for making your well-laid estate plan work for you when you need it to. In this first post, I will address how to ensure your children’s safety and well-being in the case of a tragedy and crisis.
For most of us, the people we are most concerned for are our children. How are they going to be taken care of in a crisis? In the event that something happened to you and your spouse, your children may be in school, or with a babysitter, who may have no idea who your children’s guardian is. The faster the names of the people fulfilling roles in your will such as guardian, personal representative, attorney in fact can be communicated to care-givers, authorities, or emergency personnel, the easier the transition is for the children, and the less likely the chances they will have to spend time in the custody of the state while things are being sorted out.
Here are 5 practical steps to make your estate plan work for you when you need it to:
All of these steps hinge on communication. Taking a little extra time and effort to go the extra mile with communication can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of your estate plan, and helping your family through a crisis.