By now, most Wisconsin residents have already forgotten their new year’s resolutions. The new gym membership, diets, book lists and cooking classes have most likely already been forgone as life catches up with busy Wisconsin residents. Unfortunately, one very important resolution rarely makes the list—estate planning and getting one’s assets in order.
It might not come as a surprise to most that three out of five Americans do not have an estate plan or will in place, and three out of 10 are not aware if their parents have one. Additionally, 79 percent of millennials do not have a will in place. This points to extended family disputes over inheritances, turmoil and litigation as irreparable damage is done to family relations as they argue over who gets what.
Beginning an estate plan can be overwhelming, which is why many may hesitate from creating one. However, starting small and breaking down the process into multiple steps can ease an individual into the process. One of the first steps is to get one’s assets organized, by getting a working knowledge of one’s net worth by compiling one’s recent statement of accounts and income tax returns. These accounts could include stocks, bonds, annuities, life insurance accounts, IRAs and investment accounts.
After this, it is possible to create goals for one’s estate plans. These could include having guardians in place for young children, making sure loved ones are provided for, how to cater to nursing home expenses and how to prevent assets from going to irresponsible relatives.
With these two lists in hand, it is possible to begin creating a realistic estate plan that addresses one’s family dynamics and wishes. Once made, it is also important to keep updating it annually, taking into account major life changes in that year. Having an estate plan can be one way to protect generational wealth and ensure it is distributed according to one’s desires.