A truly complete financial planning tracks the entire of your wealth. From the point at which you first receive it (through income, inheritance, windfall, etc.) all the way to when that dollar leaves your total net worth and that of your estate. When a financial plan is running well, it captures the value of every dollar at its inception in your cash flow and then plans for its growth, protection and use through education planning, retirement and eventually through your estate plan.
While we at Trilogy do not practice estate law and do not give legal advice, we do strongly advise our clients have a comprehensive plan for how their dollars will finish the race. It is amazing how often financially conscious clients will track and painstakingly manage their net worth through their working and retirement years and yet become somewhat cavalier about what happens after that.
Because financial planning’s purpose is to help you monetize your highest values, we need to make sure those values carry through to your most fragile season, your end-of-life and after. We work with clients to understand the story their money is telling, and in many cases, whether that money has an unwritten final chapter. By focusing clients on values and priorities, we can help them see that while those financial decisions in their estate plan may not affect them directly, it does give them an enormous opportunity to benefit their family by providing clarity and instruction and making sure their values live on.
If you are like many of our clients when we first meet them, you may be thinking, “Yeah, well I just want my last check to bounce!” Wouldn’t that be wonderful and convenient! What we sometimes (jokingly) say back is, “As long as you can tell us the exact day you’re going to go, then we can help you with that!” Of course, end-of-life care and wealth transfer are a not so exact science, which is why it needs such thorough attention.
A complete estate plan will address both what kind of care and financial control you want in the case of debilitating illness and also how your finances should match your values long after you’re gone. It will help you enter your senior season of life with less pressure about how your wishes will be carried out and what support you can expect should you be unable to care for yourself in the way you have been accustomed.
These topics are never warm and fuzzy, but they are important. If we can focus our attention on making sure the wealth that we cared for so thoughtfully in our youth and middle age has the same intentionality late in life.
*Estate planning can involve a complex web of tax rules and regulations. Tax laws surrounding estate planning concepts are subject to change please consult an estate planning attorney prior to making any financial decisions. NPC does not provide tax or legal advice.