Guest column: Estate planning protects a legacy
Posted January 25, 2011 By Carissa Giebel
With each passing year, we start to focus more and more on what really matters in life. Most of us are reminded that the love and traditions of family are more valuable than any part of our estate. Our legacies consist not only of the wealth we've acquired, but also what we value most in life, such as our purpose, vision, wisdom, religious beliefs and experiences we've had. So what kind of legacy do you want to leave? What kind of mark do you want to leave for your family and loved ones?
Now, take a step back and ask yourself about your own life and legacy. How comfortable are you with what you will leave for your loved ones and how you are leaving it for them? Do they know what is important to you? Do your named guardians know the principles under which you want your minor children raised? Did you remember to name your favorite charitable organization as a beneficiary?
Leaving a legacy involves more than putting together a will or a trust. Cookie cutter wills or trusts do not pass on a legacy, but merely pass wealth to the next generation. This is why estate planning needs to be personalized and uniquely crafted to preserve values, dreams, and aspirations. If you want your estate plan to incorporate your values, and you want your wealth to be distributed to who you want, the way you want, it's important to seek out a competent estate planning attorney.
So what exactly am I talking about? Here are some examples. Bob owns hunting land, but only one of his two sons is a hunter. He wants to make sure his hunter son gets the land when Bob passes away. He doesn't want his wife to get remarried and lose the land to a new spouse. He doesn't want his hunting son's wife to ever get the land in a divorce. Bob wants to leave his hunting legacy to his hunting son. This can only be done through a personalized estate plan.
Jim and Sue have minor children, and their faith in Christ is a priority in their family. If something happens to them, it's important their children are raised under biblical principles and make church attendance a priority. It's important to Jim and Sue that they pass their Christian legacy on to their children. This language is not found in a standard fill-in-the-blank will or trust.
Betty is a young widow and wants to leave 10 percent of her assets to the Community Blood Center and the rest to her two children. Education is a priority to Betty, and she doesn't want her children to have access to their inheritance for anything other than health or education until they reach a certain age. Betty wants to encourage her children to prioritize education through her legacy.
All of these examples require a uniquely crafted estate plan.
Are you satisfied and confident in the legacy you will leave behind? If not, or if you're unsure, make it a resolution this year to have your estate plan reviewed to be certain it's doing what you want.