The news of Kobe Bryant’s untimely death in a helicopter accident on January 26, 2020 made headlines the world over. Bryant, who was just forty-one years of age at the time of his death, had been a household name since joining the NBA in 1996, at just eighteen. According to Forbes, at the time of his retirement from the NBA in 2016, Bryant was the highest-paid athlete in the history of team sports with an estimated career earnings of $770 million dollars and a net worth estimated to be in the realm of $600 million dollars.
Because of his age, talent, wealth, and notoriety, Bryant’s tragic death came as a shock to us all. Very rarely is someone as young and successful as Bryant concerned with their passing. However, while his death may have come as a shock, this type of unexpected event could happen to anyone, at any time.
Unfortunately, the passing of a young and healthy individual like Bryant occurs more often than one would like to acknowledge and does not make headline news. When these ill-fated events take place, families are often left to mourn the death of a loved one while also navigating the complexities of administering an estate that was not properly planned.
Here are five quick estate planning tips to help plan for the inevitable.
1. Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today.
More often than not, the reason that someone does not have an estate plan in place upon their passing is simply because they decided to leave it for some other time in the future. Thinking about estate planning causes one to consider their death, which can be an uncomfortable experience. Uncomfortable as it may be, death is a part of life. Having an estate plan in place ensures that your wishes are clear and that they are followed.
2. Estate Planning Is for Everyone.
There is a common misconception that estate planning is only for the elderly. As we all witnessed with the death of Kobe Bryant, tragedies occur when we least expect them. In a similar vein, many people assume that estate planning is only for the wealthy. If you own a home, have a retirement fund, or have a life insurance policy, you have assets that should be properly managed and protected. Having a plan in place to determine what happens to these assets and to whom they will pass upon your death is crucial.
3. Educate Yourself on Estate Planning Basics.
For the layperson, even the most basic estate plans can be intimidating. Taking the time to research the various documents that can be employed to plan your estate is a crucial part of the process. Wills, Powers of Attorney, and Advanced Healthcare Directives are all governed by the law of the state in which they are created. Thus, knowing a little bit about these documents is a good place to start when deciding to move forward with your plan.
4. Consult an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney.
Consulting an experienced estate planning attorney is highly advisable. Oftentimes clients are unaware of the many strategies and mechanisms that can be used to plan their estate. An experienced estate planning attorney will take the time to review your specific circumstances, help you create a plan that meets your goals, and maximizes the benefits available to you.
5. Review and Revise Your Plan Periodically.
Once you have a plan in place, be sure to take the time to review and revise it periodically. As a rule of thumb, review and revise your plan upon the occurrence of any major life event. This includes marriage, divorce, having children, inheriting money, retirement, and more.