5 Priceless Presents You Should Give Your Family

And now, a timely guest blog post by my good friend & colleague out in Portland, Oregon.  I not only relate but agree wholeheartedly with Candice’s sentiments & advice here.
 
Candice N. Aiston is an Estate Planning Attorney for families in the Portland, Oregon area.  She helps loving parents to prepare their families for a lifetime of security, prosperity, and guidance.  If you would like to receive her free report, “The 9 Common Planning Mistakes Parents Make,” please visit
http://candiceaistonlaw.com/.
 
5 Priceless Presents You Should Give Your Family
By Candice N. Aiston
 
The end of the year is a time when I think a lot about the state of
my life, family, and career.  I like to reflect on how the year
went, whether goals were accomplished, what my goals are for the
coming year, and how those goals match up with my values.  I try to
think about what my overall purpose is and realign with that.  It
is so easy to get caught up in the small details in life, that
sometimes the big picture is lost.  I like to reassess each year
and make sure I am always keeping my eye on what is important. 
 
This year as I reflect, I find that my life, family, and career
goals are really very interwined.  My family goal is to be a loving
and responsible parent, and it turns out that my career goal is to
help loving and responsible parents as well.  My life’s work
happens to be helping loving parents to create estate plans that
protect their families if something tragic happens.  Estate
Planning is part of being a loving and responsible parent, but it
is just one piece of that bigger goal.
 
If you are reading this, you probably feel similarly to the way
that I do about parenting.  It is serious business, and it is our
responsibility to provide the best care possible for our kids and
to make sure they are protected and that they have every
opportunity to succeed in life.  If we can toast to that, I want to
share with you 5 Priceless Presents that you should give to your
family.  If you have not given these to your family yet, there is
no time like the New Year to get started.  Make it a resolution, a
Responsible Parent’s Manifesto, if you want to call it that.
 

1. A Comprehensive Estate Plan
A Comprehensive Estate Plan is the first thing that any parent
needs to get in place.  Why is this first?  Because you can have
all of the things listed below, but put your family through hell
trying to access it and pay all of the fees and taxes associated
with your death or incapacity if something happens to you.  Without
meeting with an attorney and discussing your particular situation,
you have no idea what type of situation your family faces if
something happens.  You need a plan that dictates the care of your
kids (both short and long-term) and the handling of your assets in
a way that saves your family the most time, money, and heartbreak.
So, if you are a parent without an estate plan, this is your first
step.  Call an estate planning attorney today.

2. Life Insurance
Life insurance is an essential part of most parents’ estate plans.
Most parents do not have enough in savings or assets to allow their
families to live a similar lifestyle if a parent died.  Life
insurance replaces lost income and it can be used to pay for
childcare.  If you do not have life insurance, make it a priority
in 2011 to get insured.  The longer you wait, the more difficult
and expensive getting life insurance will be.  Keep in mind that
life insurance makes your estate worth more, so you should consult
your estate planning attorney before buying it.

3. An Emergency Savings Account
Every parent should have an emergency savings account.  This
economy has taught us that little is certain in life.  It is not
certain that you will have your job next month.  It is not certain
that your business will be around next month.  It is not certain
that your health will be good next month.  It is extremely
important to plan for a situation where you may not have income for
6-12 months.  Otherwise, you could lose everything you have worked
so hard to gain.  People who lose their jobs and do not have
emergency savings often have to cash in retirement accounts with
severe penalties and have their homes foreclosed upon.  It really
can pay to sacrifice in the short-term to have that security
long-term.

4. A Plan for Retirement
Retirement takes decades to plan for, and many parents do not know
what they are doing when it comes to saving for it.  Seeing an
experienced financial advisor is such a good idea when it comes to
retirement.  Retirement is the biggest event for which you will
ever plan.  An advisor can project what you should be putting aside
based on your income, expenses, projected age of retirement, and
rate of inflation.  They can also describe to you the various types
of accounts and how each type can benefit you.  They all involve
different tax rules and have different rules for distribution.
Your company’s retirement plan or pension may not be enough to
support you during retirement.

5. A Plan for College
You would think that planning for college would be at the top of
this list if you are a loving parent, right?  Wrong.  You first
take the steps to protect your family from the worst situations,
then you plan for the time when you can no longer work, and then
you plan for college.  The reason for this is that if there is no
college fund, your child can apply for loans and grants and get a
job during college.  It is not ideal, but it is a heck of a lot
more ideal than your grown child having to support you in your old
age because you do not have the means to support yourself.  It is a
lot more ideal than your child flunking out of high school because
when dad died without life insurance, mom had to get two jobs to
make ends meet and there was no one to make sure the child was
doing what he was supposed to be doing.  But once you have taken
care of the other things, providing a college education for your
child can help your family for generations.  Without having to pay
back student loans, your child can start saving, planning, and
living prosperously a lot earlier on than you were able to do so.

About Danielle G. Van Ess

Danielle G. Van Ess is a Massachusetts (born and raised), experienced estate planning and small business attorney who helps her clients protect and preserve what matters most to them. To learn more, please visit: dgvelaw.com or call: 781-740-0848