It’s a New Year, and for many people that means a time to regroup and reset. It’s a time to reflect on finances, health, habits and goals – and to visualize what you would like to accomplish in the upcoming year. Most common New Year’s goals include improving health, increasing exercise, and making better financial decisions. Estate planning is a key component in making better financial decisions and planning for the long term safety and security of yourself and your loved ones. It is frequently a goal that many clients I meet with have set for the year in which we meet.

Estate planning provides families with the peace of mind that their loved ones will be protected in the event of loss. It is a New Year’s goal that once accomplished has a lasting impact not only on you, but the people who surround and support you. Completing your estate plan does not have to be overwhelming, time consuming, or expensive.

For any New Year’s goal to make it past the first couple weeks of January, it is important to have a plan. Research shows that just 8% of people achieve the goals that they set for themselves in the beginning of the year. The remaining 92% oftentimes failed to develop and follow an actionable plan to achieve their goal.

Here are suggested action steps to help you reach your goal of beginning or update your estate plan in 2018:

1. Identify the “Why.” Understanding and communicating why having an up to date estate plan in place can be a great motivational factor. It allows you to identify and evaluate the emotional and personal importance of your goal. Oftentimes clients communicate to me that their “why” is to protect their minor children by naming a guardian, or protect their assets from estate tax and/or mismanagement. It is important to identify your “why” before discussing specific estate planning strategies.

2. Education and Specific Goals. Before taking action, it is helpful to understand estate planning basics. Setting up an initial consultation to discuss the basics of estate planning and review your specific goals and concerns will allow you to understand more clearly exactly what documents and action items you aim to achieve. You may also choose to attend a seminar on the topic. Seminars can be a great opportunity to have a no-obligation and no-pressure introduction to estate planning. Schromen Law, LLC regularly offers free seminar that are open to the public.

3. Meet with an Attorney. I often hear that the most challenging part of estate planning is setting the first meeting with the attorney! It can be challenging to coordinate schedules with others who may need to attend the meeting with you. It may also seem intimidating to sit down with an attorney. However, meeting with an attorney should begin to make the process easier. Estate planning attorneys can oftentimes help to break the process into bite-sized pieces, and simplify and explain complex legal concepts or terminology.

4. Measure Your Progress. When you get to the point of starting the estate planning process, there will be a checklist of action items to do, and documents to complete. Oftentimes your attorney will guide you through this process, helping to remind you of what to do next. It is important to not only check items off as you go, but allow yourself to reflect on what you have completed as you get it done. By taking one step at a time and acknowledging each accomplishment, the process can be relatively easy and quick.

An estate plan is more than just planning for what happens to your assets after you pass away. It includes planning for guardianship of minor children, naming who you trust to make your medical decisions on your behalf, nominating who you would want to manage your money if you were unable to do so yourself, and providing structure and direction for money being distributed to your children should you predecease them while they are young. Failing to have current estate planning documents in place can leave loved ones confused, overwhelmed, and navigating the probate court process. Failing to nominate guardians for minor children will result in a court making that decision for you.
Now that you’ve made the decision to begin your estate plan, will you be part of the 8% who complete their goal? Contact Schromen Law, LLC at 651-571-2515 to set up a free initial consultation to learn more about the estate planning process and begin working towards meeting your goal today!

The material contained herein is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to create or constitute an attorney-client relationship between Schromen Law, LLC and the reader. The information contained herein is not offered as legal advice and should not be construed as legal advice.

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