Why Plan Sooner Than Later?

While we may take general planning lightly, we shouldn't have the same approach to our estate and long-term care planning. With careful estate and long-term care planning sooner, you can rest assured that you weren't "too late".

Paloma Hospedales Mohammed
January 30, 2018

Why it’s always “the right time” to have an estate and long-term care plan.

Eighteen years old is the age of majority. At 18, we may be in our “not an adolescent, but not yet an adult” phase. However, at 18, we can enter into contracts, we are held accountable for all of our actions, and we [should] begin to think about our futures. We may have a general idea of our goals, but we may not have a specific long-term plan at this age.

 

When I was eighteen, I was in college and knew that I wanted to be a lawyer. I majored in political science and entered law school right after undergrad. While I achieved to my goal of being a lawyer, I faced many obstacles. I did not have a very good plan for the “how” or "what-ifs". There were many times that I even had to take a “play-it-by-ear” approach.

 

You can never plan for the unexpected, but you can plan for what you anticipate and adjust accordingly. Once I got into law school, this “play-it-by-ear” approach quickly terminated. I realized that the old adage “failure to plan is a plan to fail” was highly accurate. I was no longer in the 18-year-old phase, I was officially in the phase that most of us are in now, “the adult with ample responsibility phase”. I had to constantly remind myself of my long-term goals and I had to assess them in a step-by-step way to put them into fruition. I would set my goal and ask myself how will I really get there?  Then, I would ask myself, how can I leave room to adjust? Obviously, planning for my career was a substantial goal because my career would dictate my future. My career would provide for a family.  My career was the stepping-stone for achieving all of my other goals.

 

At this point, you may be asking “okay, Paloma. How does this relate to having an estate or long-term care plan?”. I have shared this story because, with better planning, things have been significantly easier for me. An estate or long-term care plan can provide ways to make things easier for you and your loved ones. They can help you walk through the “what-ifs” and create a plan to achieve your ultimate goals. They can also provide you with an opportunity to ascertain the manner in which you need to adjust for life's unexpected. However, an estate or long-term care plan should not be treated as a traditional plan. We aren't making weekend plans or planning our summer vacation. We are assessing our lives. Failure to [estate or long-term care] plan is a plan to fail. You want to protect your legacy. You want to protect yourself. You won't be alone in figuring out how to do all of this. However, without estate or long-term care planning, how will you do it?

 

So, why sooner than later?

“Better late than never” does not apply here. If it is too late, the consequences can be detrimental to you and your family. If it is too late, you will never have the final say on your estate or long-term care plan. You must have capacity in order to engage in this.

 

We don’t only have ourselves to think about, we may have close friends, relatives, or minor children who we are concerned with.  However, even if we do only have ourselves to think about, we have to ask ourselves, no matter what age: are we able to trust the people who would (by law) be required to make decisions on our behalf if we don’t have an estate or long-term care plan? Don't gamble your life and your legacy by waiting to plan your estate and long-term care. Some people are not planners. If you are not the “planning type”, don't think of this as a plan. Think of this as something that will be beneficial beyond your life or that will at least protect you if you become incapacitated.

 

If your estate and long-term care plans are something you anticipate putting off until later, consider these scenarios:

  • You don’t want it to be too late if you have a modern family and have a very close relationship to your step-children, but they will not be legally entitled to any of your assets.
  • You don’t want it to be too late if you are a young, successful millennial who is single without kids but is also estranged from your parents who will most likely be entitled to your entire estate if something happens to you. 
  • You don’t want it to be too late if you have been estranged from your spouse for years, but upon your incapacity, your spouse will have the power to control your finances and health.

 

Perhaps, you already have an estate plan. Does your estate plan include your new assets? Have you had any familial changes? Have you acquired any businesses? Have your health conditions changed? All of these factors give rise to you updating your estate and long-term care plan as soon as possible.

 

If you do not have an estate plan or you have not updated anything recently, are you willing to accept the manner of distribution to your loved ones or care for you if it is too late?

 

While we may take general planning lightly, we shouldn't have the same approach to our estate and long-term care planning. With careful estate and long-term care planning sooner, you can rest assured that you weren't "too late". 

About The Author
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I am the principal attorney at PHM Law, LLC. I have always had a passion for helping others to achieve their goals. During my time at DePaul, I completed over 400 hours of community service throughout the Chicagoland area. While I was in law school, I interned at The John Marshall Law School's ...

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