Legacy planning can be a touchy subject. No one wants to think about the unthinkable, but having a plan is necessary for protecting your family and your assets.
When to start?
If you have purchased assets like a car or home or if you have debt, you need a legacy plan. Most won’t secure a will until they get married or have children, but even if you’re young or single it’s still important to have a plan for who will receive your assets and how your debts will be paid.
Steps for Building a Legacy Plan
1. Get organized.
Start by gathering a full picture of everything you own and everything you owe. Make a list of your assets: car(s), home(s), recreational vehicle(s), etc. List the accounts you have from savings to retirement, and debts you are currently paying like student loans and your monthly bills. Additionally, you should compile a list of your social media accounts and passwords.
2. Determine beneficiaries, powers of attorney and guardians.
Choosing the people in your life who can make important decisions and take responsibility for your family and assets is difficult but necessary to have in writing.
- First, review your current beneficiaries for your bank accounts, retirement plans and life insurance policies to be sure they are in line with your current wishes.
- Next, think about who you trust most to carry out health decisions for you.
- Additionally, think about who you trust to raise your children if you passed away.
Beneficiaries, powers of attorney and guardians should be reviewed on a regular basis and updated in the event of a major life change such as a marriage, divorce or death.
3. Put your team together.
The right team of professionals can help protect your family and assets when your lifetime is over. Consider talking with the following individuals to make the legacy planning process much easier:
- An attorney* can prepare documents like a will, trust, guardianship for children, power of attorney and living will. These documents are generally legally binding and should be based upon your wishes, and are to be carried out when you aren’t able to make decisions for yourself or if you pass away.
- An insurance professional can help you obtain a life insurance policy. The policy’s death benefit can help your beneficiary(ies) pay for many things such as the cost of your final expenses, (including funeral and burial costs), and other debts (like a mortgage). A life insurance policy’s death benefit can help your family continue their current standard of living by providing a substitute for the future income you may have been contributing to the family.
- A financial professional can work with you to create a roadmap for your future. They generally do this by helping you both identify your goals and solutions that may accomplish them.
4. Communicate your Legacy Plan with the right people.
Discuss your plan with trusted family members or friends. At least one person other than your spouse should know where to find these lists and contact information for your “team members,” mentioned above.
5. Review and reassess regularly.
Life happens, and circumstances can change from the time you first developed your Legacy Plan. Regularly review your beneficiaries and make adjustments to your Legacy Plan when major life changes occur. Annual reviews with your attorney, insurance representative and/or financial professional can help keep your Legacy Plan current.
“COUNTRY Financial” is the marketing name for the family of affiliated insurance and financial services companies which includes COUNTRY Life Insurance Company®, COUNTRY Mutual Insurance Company®, and their respective subsidiaries, located in Bloomington, Illinois (collectively, “COUNTRY”). COUNTRY Financial and its representatives do not provide tax or legal advice. You should always consult with your tax or legal professional for advice specific to your personal circumstances.