The Most Important Legal and Financial Actions to Take Right Now.
For yourself and your parents.
Now that we are settling into our homes for the foreseeable future, it’s time to take a deep breath and look at the two primary personal financial and legal items to spend a little time on now that will support your family to be as resilient as possible, regardless of what happens in the future.
In a world that feels full of chaos, here’s two things you can do to stay in control and know you are doing the right thing for yourself, and the people you love.
I’ll share the legal first, then the financial.
Legal: Update Your Health Care Docs + Create a “Personal Resource Map” For the People You Love
First and foremost, make sure your health care directive is up to date, lists the right people to make decisions for you, has their most current cell phone number, and specifics regarding how you want to be cared for, if you get sick.
Second, to be a responsible adult human means to acknowledge that if you become incapacitated, or when you die, someone will have to handle your “stuff” — your money, personal belongings, and all the resources you’ve gathered throughout your lifetime — the artifacts of your life.
Whether you have a lot of stuff, or a little stuff, the reality is you have stuff and it’s your responsibility (and, frankly, your privilege) to make sure that your stuff doesn’t create a big mess for the people you love.
If you think you don’t have enough assets to need this, think again. Look around you right now. What do you see? All the artifacts of your life, even just the phone or computer you are using to read this. Someone will have to deal with all of that.
- Where is your money?
- What about that retirement account you started years ago, and you barely know how to access anymore?
- Or the Crypto you’ve got spread across the interwebs with various locks and keys in place?
On top of all that, there’s so much more you aren’t even thinking about right now. That’s WHY you need to do this.
Otherwise, these artifacts of your life are likely to be lost if and when something happens to you.
There’s currently somewhere between $49 and $80 billion dollars sitting in government coffers across the United States, most of that there because family’s simply lost track of what their loved ones had.
If you don’t want the artifacts of your life to become lost to the government, and instead you want them available to your loved one’s, now is the time to take action.
And, if you do have plenty of resources, and think you’ve already taken care of these matters because you have estate planning documents (or maybe you’ve been thinking you need to get that handled, but haven’t), creating an inventory of your assets (both tangible and intangible) is where you start.
As an estate planning attorney for the past 20 years (my bar licensed name is Alexis Martin Neely, CA Bar #212365, a trainer of other estate planning lawyers for the past 13 years, and the author of the best-selling book on legal planning for families (which lays out MAJOR holes in the estate planning system), I can say with good confidence that your estate plan most likely does not have an updated Personal Resource Map to guide your loved ones.
Even if you have an estate plan and/or a financial planner, you need a simple, straightforward guide for your loved ones that lays out exactly what you have, where it is and how to access it all.
You may have done 90% of the heavy lifting with your advisors already. THIS is the 10% that makes it all pay.
If you care about what you have, and the people who will have to (or perhaps “get to”) handle it, the very best thing you can do is create an inventory of what you have, where it is and how to access it, so that at the very least they know.
From there, you may have additional legal planning steps to take, but you cannot even know what those are without first creating an inventory of what you have, where it is, and how to access it.
I call this creating your “Personal Resource Map” for the people you love. If you can do it yourself, great, do it now.
If you’d like support, and an easy step-by-step process that you can do online, I will guide you through creating your own Personal Resource Map, for free, in this training.
Attend yourself, and most importantly, invite your parents if you don’t know what they have, where it is or how to find and access it. Especially, if they’ve been resistant to sharing that information with you for any reason.
I promise to help take the emotion out of it for you and your parents (and your kids, siblings or grandparents), and just give straightforward, practical guidance on what to do and why it’s so important. If your parents are too resistant to even talk about these topics, I’ll share some strategies regarding how to best engage them and have them understand the importance on the training.
Financial: Maximize Your Access To and Use of Credit, Wisely
Seriously, don’t wait on this. Make sure you’ve got access to as much credit as you possibly can. It doesn’t mean you have to use it, but you don’t want to be scrambling to get it when you need it. So get it now. Access to credit is one of the most valuable resources you have, when you use it wisely.
If you are scared around credit, it could be because your parents didn’t use it wisely, or maybe you made mistakes with it in the past. Or perhaps you’ve been listening to a lot of Dave Ramsey, who used credit to build his own foundation (and filed bankruptcy), but now advocates never, ever using credit, ever.
Dave Ramsey’s anti-credit message is valid for consumers. But, if you are a creator, or want to be, it’s simply bad advice.
And, even if you are a consumer, you still want ACCESS to credit, in the event of an emergency situation, or as a highly valuable resource to have as back-up to your emergency savings (or lack of emergency savings).
There is nothing to fear about credit, having it available, or using it, for that matter, when you do it wisely. I’ll be sharing a lot more guidance on wise use of credit in future articles. Follow this medium channel and you will get notified each time I post a new article.
For now, you can read my most recent article about the three action items to take right now to get into right relationship with credit and your credit score.
While you’re at it, maybe begin to talk to your parents about their credit score, how they’ve used credit and whether they’ve ever considered using credit to invest in a business. It could become a highly valuable resource to your whole family in the future, and you want to start to be in the discussion with them about how they are using credit, and the consideration of whether they may use their credit score to invest in a business with you. If this sounds like crazy talk, just consider it, and we’ll talk more about that possibility soon.