By MOAA Staff
Estate planning, at its core, involves situations most people would rather not discuss. And many people avoid this uncomfortable yet necessary exercise the way we all avoid unpleasantness – by making excuses.
As part of a recent webinar on the topic – available to watch here, along with supporting planning documents, to all MOAA Premium and Life members – MOAA experts and guests addressed some of these excuses. If you find yourself represented in any (or all) of these categories, it may be time to reconsider your finances as you plan for your family’s future, and to find a professional financial adviser who can assist with your efforts.
‘My Family Knows What I Want’
If you’ve made your wishes known to your spouse and/or oldest child, that should be the end of it, right? Not exactly. Consider the following before you consider the matter closed.
First, they may know the “what,” but do they know the “how”? Consider whether all of your important documents have been filled out and are available to those who might need them, to include specific instructions for end-of-life care or other sensitive topics.
Second, have you filled in everyone who may need to know? One example: Have your plans changed with a new spouse, and if so, have you notified your children from a previous marriage?
‘I Did This Already. Twenty Years Ago’
All situations are different, but most have changed significantly over the past few years, if not decades. And even if your situation hasn’t, the inheritance laws in your state may be different than they were when your affairs were first put in order.
The bottom line: No plan is permanent. Consult your professional advisers routinely to ensure everything is up to date.
‘The Military Documents Have Me Covered’
You may have received advice or forms from various DoD programs, and while Pentagon-provided estate-planning resources are a good first step for those in uniform, they may not cover everything. Consider:
- If you’ve been separated for several years, have you kept the forms updated?
- Does the one-size-fits-all form approach suit the specific needs of you and your family?
- Have you made allowances for specific state laws concerning estate or inheritance taxes?
It’s likely you’ll need more than this initial assistance from your service branch, and a do-it-yourself to updating these documents could prove costly.
Along with the recent estate planning webinar, MOAA offers a series of resources designed to assist members other financial needs. Visit MOAA.org/finance for the latest financial news, links to member-exclusive financial publications, financial calculators, and much more.