Planned Giving: It’s time to plant your garden…and your estate
Planning what you will grow in your garden typically requires following a few steps. You can take similar steps to plan your estate. Both take time and attention, with the goal of a wonderful end product.
Step 1: Prepare the soil. You need to prepare a proper space for a garden—focusing on sufficient space, good light, and fertile soil. Decide what you want to plant and begin to gather the tools you will need.
When planning your estate, you need to think about what is important to you. Start to define your goals and think about what you want to achieve during your lifetime as well as afterward. Consider your current and future income needs as well as those whom you will support. Think about what assets you own now and are likely to own over your lifetime. A good plan rests on a good foundation.
Step 2: Plan for what you wish to grow. You next need to think about what you want to harvest and when. Some prefer annuals, others prefer perennials. Some like flowers and others like trees. Think about how long each will take to mature. Similarly, you need to create a list of your assets, who you would like to give them to, and when you will give them. You should also create a list of your liabilities. Finally, you should take on the difficult task of pondering your own humanity and consider whom you would appoint to make decisions if you are unable to do so.
Step 3: Plant your garden. Be sure to have the right tools (a shovel, gloves, and water), and pick a sunny day to enjoy this task. Don’t forget to water thoroughly to encourage the roots to spread. You should select a competent attorney to help prepare documents such as a will or trust that will enable you to pass your assets to your chosen beneficiaries. Some include gifts to individuals as well as charities. Also, you may want to sign a health care proxy and living will (these documents may vary by state) as well as a power of attorney so health care decisions and financial decisions, respectively, can be made.
Step 4: Care for what you have planted. Weed, water, and watch your garden grow. Enjoy the fruits of your labor. You may gain peace of mind once you have signed your documents and stored them in a safe place. Some choose to share their intentions with family and charities. And don’t forget to review your documents from time to time and update them to reflect births, deaths, changes of residence, and other life changes.
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