Most of my posts over the past 6 months have dealt with and commented on the extreme movements, up and down, in the stock market. Big decline in the 4th quarter of last year and a big rally so far this year. (Nothing more to add really – so ends this month’s market commentary.)
Other financial planning issues are just as important as investing
Recently, author and former Wall Street Journal columnist Jonathan Clements, posted a “key principles Manifesto” on his Humble Dollar website. One of the key principles was:
We spend too much time fretting over our investments – where there’s limited room to add value – and too little time on other financial issues, like taxes, insurance and estate planning. (read entire article here: https://humbledollar.com/2019/03/got-to-believe-2/)
As I have progressed in my career, and in my years, I now find myself working with clients who have also progressed in age right along with me. Having a will – actually, not just a will but an up to date will – is always important but even more so the older you get. Yet I continue to be amazed at how often I see people who have done an excellent job at saving, investing, and building wealth but have done a terrible job (or maybe done nothing at all!) in planning their estate and properly organizing their financial affairs for the benefit of their spouse, children and other heirs.
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, died last August in Detroit, Michigan. She had no will, even after being implored for years by her longtime attorney to draft a will and trust. Her estimated net worth was around $80 million. As this article states (https://www.forbes.com/sites/trialandheirs/2018/08/22/aretha-franklin-had-no-will-or-trust-but-the-family-has-rallied-together-to-protect-her-legacy/#2ed4803c691c), because Aretha did not have a will or trust, her wishes about what happens to her estate don’t really matter from a legal standpoint. Her estate is in the hands of the probate court and will be managed and distributed according to Michigan state law. Only with a valid will or trust could her wishes and desires be known and legally carried out upon her death.
The musician Prince, who died in 2016, also had not done any estate planning. At this point there is still no indication that any of Prince’s rightful heirs have received a penny of his estate. It has been reported, however, that advisors and attorneys have collected over $6 million dollars as the financial mess that Prince left is still being untangled in probate court.
You don’t need a multimillion dollar estate. Everyone, even young adults, needs a will. It’s not a matter of money, how small or how large of an estate you may have. It’s a matter of legally being able to carry out your wishes for how your estate (the money and assets you have worked hard to accumulate) is passed on to your heirs. Just as important, proper estate planning is about easing the burden for your spouse and loved ones who will be called upon to manage your financial affairs in the event of your death or incapacitation.
So, as Larry the Cable Guy would say: “Get ‘er done”. Don’t wait another day. Everyone needs a current will, financial power of attorney and health care directive.
Here’s a relatively short primer on proper estate planning and organization: https://retirementfieldguide.com/estate-planning/
Let us know if you need guidance or want to discuss what proper estate planning might look like for you.
Spring has sprung
March 20th marks the first day of Spring 2019. Here’s an interesting, and amusing, way of looking at our happiness level, and happiness trend, during the four seasons of the year. Yay for Spring !!!
Graph by Ramp Capital LLC
As always, thanks for reading.