5 Estate Planning Mistakes People In Their Fifties Make
People in their fifties are in better health than ever before in history. Because of that, they often don't see the need for meaningful estate planning. Let's face it, life is busy and estate planning just doesn't seem urgent. Regardless of age, most people have a false sense of security that nothing will ever change. People in their fifties are no different and this is why many people in their fifties put off their estate planning.
A personal experience reinforced this for me recently. My husband and I were close friends with an inspiring couple in their fifties. We knew them for about twenty years and they became like family to us. Everything about their lives seemed perfect - beautiful family, beautiful marriage, beautiful kids, beautiful home, and a thriving business. Both spouses were extremely healthy. In fact, I don't recall them ever being sick. A few years ago, I had to have some surgery and as I recovered (more slowly than I expected), I felt very sorry for myself and jealous of their energy and fitness. It seemed they never had blah days, frustrations at work, or surgeries. Everything was easy for them. They seemed golden.
A couple of years later, the wife was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Because of her innate strength and luck, we thought everything would be ok and she would be fine. She had always been the exception and we didn't see any reason why this bump in the road would be different. These people were "rocks" in the community. They would always be there.
What happened next sent us all reeling. The wife died, the home was sold, the business closed, and the remaining family moved away to rebuild their lives in another location. The husband had to start his business all over again from scratch in a new place. We still think about them often. The wife's early death was a tragic loss to her family and friends. It shook my own sense of security and forced me to accept no one knows the future and no one is immune from loss. One minute things are golden and the next minute, everything is gone. I don't know if they had an estate plan in place - they probably did. The important takeaway for me was life can change forever in an instant. Be grateful for what you have when you have it, don't take your family for granted, and plan for the unexpected.
Your fifties are a great time to take a first or second look at your estate planning; use them to your advantage. Here are five mistakes almost everyone in their fifties makes with regard to estate planning.
1. Thinking you don't need an estate plan because you are still healthy and estate planning is for "old people."
2. Thinking the will you got in your thirties when your children were young is still sufficient.
3. Thinking all you need is a "simple will." This is especially dangerous if you are in a second or subsequent marriage, own a business, or have a special needs child.
4. Thinking you can do it yourself by downloading cheap forms from the internet.
5. Thinking you don't need to plan for incapacity
The Good News
The good news is, the above estate planning mistakes are all avoidable. My grandmother used to say ninety-nine percent of the things you worry about never happen. As a result of this saying, I tend to worry about everything! If you're like me, put your worry into action and get a plan. If you never worry, that's great but you still need to plan ahead to keep your family safe when the unexpected happens.
Are you ready? If so, here are three ways to get started: 1) download our valuable estate planning book and checklist to see if your plan needs updating; 2) attend a free estate planning seminar; or 3) call our office, 704.887.5242 to schedule a consultation.
Happy New Year!
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