Be the Right Kind of Control Freak

It is easy to complain about control freaks. They cling onto projects, micro manage, don’t trust other people, and can be over bearing. But, being a control freak is a good thing in estate planning. It is one aspect of life in which losing control to those you did not hand pick is a poor result.

More than who gets your things when you die, whether you disinherit a child, whether you have a probate at death, or the tax treatment of your property, control matters. At some point, every person will either die or become incapacitated and no longer able to handle their financial affairs or health care decisions. That is inevitable. Having someone you did not pick handle your affairs when either other those events occurs is not.

Think about the implications. Someone will take over: paying your bills, investing your money, making gifts to your children, splitting up your assets, talking to your doctor about your health, choosing your nursing care. These very personal realities merit basic planning. They also should illustrate why the need for basic planning cuts across income and wealth spectra.

Appropriate estate planning documents, such as powers of attorney or trusts (for lifetime financial and health care decisions) and wills and trusts (for postmortem financial decisions), are efficient ways to hand pick whom you want to make those decisions for you. If you do not plan, then often a combination of State statute and your family members who will decide. If you prefer your State legislators or family members to make these choices, you’re not a control freak.

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