A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something.

I recently read that the most common New Year’s resolution of 2020 was to exercise more and be a better steward of personal finances. If you have not already adopted a resolution, my challenge to you in 2021 is a twist on the popular personal finances resolution.

Make your 2021 New Year’s resolution to create or update your estate plan! A wide audience reads this article. Farmers and their families as well as the general population use this article for a knowledge gain of local agricultural information.

Today’s topic is one that affects everyone; share it later with a family member you know has not read it. Estate planning by definition is arranging for the use and disposal of your resources and property after your death. It allows you, while living and healthy, to see the total picture. You should resolve to give some time and thought to your plan this year.

The first step is to know what you have and what you own. Itemize your assets, list your liabilities, and determine your net worth. Identify important documents and file them in a secure location.

These may include earnings records, personal and business tax returns, records of real estate and property purchases, and insurance policies. The second step is to establish some goals for your estate after your death. Obvious, but not always easy, is to initiate a discussion with your spouse, business partners, and children if they are at an appropriate age.

Likewise, if 2021 is a year to review your plans that may have been created when dependents were young, now is the time to initiate the discussion. These conversations can be uncomfortable for some but are a reality we all face.

Your family will later appreciate getting a plan made now rather than being thrown into resolving an estate on their own after your death. Cost is associated with a good estate plan.

At the same time you put your estate plans on paper, an attorney can prepare some documents that will be valuable if a life-changing injury or illness occurs that leaves you alive but unable to make decisions for yourself.

Electing a durable power of attorney and advanced living directives are an important part of any estate plan. A certified public accountant may be needed to ensure assets are distributed as you choose with as little tax consequence as possible.

Establish your team and meet with them on occasion when large transactions may shift your estate assets and liabilities.

Cost and the conversation are what keep many people from implementing an estate plan, but as part of your resolution, ask yourself, “If I died tonight, what would happen to my property? Who would care for my young children or aging parents?

Would my spouse and children be provided for? Would the family business continue? Would the estate settlement be conducted by someone with my family’s interests and needs in mind? Would estate and inheritance taxes or other legal costs be held to a minimum?”

In reality, everyone already has an estate plan. If you do nothing, the state will decide through state law how to dispose of your possessions after your death. The state law may not transfer your resources in the way you would choose. Your spouse and family members must follow that law and cannot follow what they may know to be your wishes unless you prepare the proper documents.

Ag Expo CanceledThe 47th annual Ag Expo would have been held on Jan. 27 at the Owensboro Convention Center. Unfortunately, as with many other events and activities, it has been canceled for 2021. The planning committee, simply determined that in the interest of safety for attendees, exhibitors, and convention center staff, the event should not occur in-person. An abbreviated format of the Ag Expo educational program will be available online via Zoom. More information will be coming soon.

 

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