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Be SMART About Your New Year’s Resolutions with Estate Planning Goals

Throughout our busy office, we often hear the adult children of our clients say, “We need to get our estate planning done so that we don’t leave a mess for our children, like what we had to deal with for Mom and Dad.”

If this quote seems all too familiar to you, then let this be the year to make a meaningful New Year’s Resolution that will change your life for the better. As an experienced estate planning and elder law firm in Saint Charles, we can help you establish and tackle estate planning goals, such as:

  • Protecting your finances, so they can fund future long-term care (if needed);
  • Documenting your health care and end-of-life wishes, to prevent children or other loved ones from making those decisions for you; and
  • Getting the necessary documents in place to designate who inherits your money, and in what manner.

Too many people are in denial about end-of-life issues, or feel overwhelmed by all the decisions they need to make, and fail to do proper planning for their financial affairs. The New Year is a perfect time to embrace a new outlook!

Setting Attainable Estate Planning Goals for the New Year

When it comes to making New Year’s Resolutions, it is important to not only set realistic goals, but also hold yourself accountable to achieving them. One tried-and-true strategy in the business world that you can also utilize in your personal life is to make SMART goals.

SMART is an acronym for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based

This method is a great way to own your estate planning goals and not let yourself get distracted throughout the year.

SMART Goals to Help You Avoid Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Accomplishing any New Year’s Resolution can make you feel so much better – it can help build your self-confidence, and relieve the inevitable stress that you have been carrying around with you regarding your financial affairs. Completing your estate planning goals can also relieve stress from your loved ones, knowing that they will not bear the burden of making decisions for you if you need skilled care, or struggle to complete all the legal requirements when you pass away.

Below, we’ve broken down all of the components of a SMART goal to help show how you can accomplish your estate planning needs:

  1. Specific: The more specific a goal is, the easier it will be for you to stay focused on it. Write down the details of what you plan to accomplish in the New Year to help eliminate your financial stress and organize your affairs.
    • Example: “I will get my affairs in order this year” is a commendable goal, but the task at-hand is rather unclear. If someone told you to get your affairs in order, how would you go about getting this done? A more specific goal could be:“I need to meet with an estate planning attorney, have power of attorney documents drafted, establish a living trust to document my wishes, and work with the attorney to position my assets to address any future long-term care needs I may have.”
  1. Measurable: Having a measurable goal helps establish when you can check it off of your list of New Year’s Resolutions! Our specific goal from above included several measurable items, such as meeting with an estate planning attorney. Once the meeting takes place, check this goal off of your list and move on to the others!
    • Tip: Goals can be measured in many different ways. If it will take several steps to accomplish a task on your list, consider breaking it up into sub-tasks to help keep you motivated. Sometimes, it just feels good to have something to check off of your list!
  1. Attainable: When it comes to asset protection and financial planning, it is extremely important to be realistic about what you can accomplish. In order to have confidence in your plans, it may be necessary to consult with a qualified elder law attorney who has years of experience in drafting important estate planning documents. This is not an area to cut corners by trying to do it on your own, like you might with painting a house.
    • Example: “I will draft power of attorney documents” is a much loftier goal than “I will meet with an estate planning attorney to help prepare power of attorney documents for me.” Consulting with a qualified professional also helps ensure that your documents are accurate, and include all authority permitted by Missouri law.
  1. Relevant: The goal(s) you set should be in line with your ultimate goal: establishing peace of mind for you and your loved ones by sorting out your health care and financial affairs. Stay on track with tasks and sub-tasks that directly relate to your priorities, and avoid making competing goals.
    • Example: Your church is very important to you, and you want to do some charitable giving to the organization in your will or trust. If that goal could prevent you from having sufficient funds to pay for long-term care in a nursing home or other skilled facility, then it is not a relevant goal.
  1. Time-based: Set a date by which you will accomplish the financial and estate planning goals on your list of New Year’s Resolutions. It could be an arbitrary deadline, or it could be tied to another important objective, such as turning in paperwork for your taxes before the mid-April tax deadline. Regardless, it is important to be realistic about how quickly you can accomplish the tasks you’ve identified.
    • Tip: Work closely with your elder law attorney to plan the necessary steps to meet or beat your deadline. If you need to make adjustments along the way, then set a new deadline instead of nixing the timeline altogether.

Try These Estate Planning SMART Goals

Now, it is time to put all the pieces together! Here are a few examples of SMART goals that incorporate all of the specific and relevant elements we’ve discussed above:

  • “I will make an appointment with an elder law attorney before the end of January.”
  • “By February 15, I will gather all of the financial documents that my attorney requested at our consultation.”
  • “I will call my daughter on Friday to confirm that she is comfortable being named as my power of attorney.”

Think SMART. Be SMART. There is no better time to get started with estate planning than before your health is compromised.

Accomplish Your Financial Goals with Beck Law Firm

Once you take care of your estate planning and possible elder care needs with a local St. Charles elder law attorney, you can choose a new resolution to accomplish, like that diet and exercise program you meant to do last year . . . right?

When you are ready to get started, contact the attorneys at Beck Estate Planning & Elder Law to schedule a complimentary consultation about your New Year’s Resolutions. Call the office at (636) 946-7899, or send an email to info@beckelderlaw.com. You can do it!