Creating Generational Wealth by Sonia D. Coleman, Esq.

American author, Napoleon Hill is quoted as saying: “Reduce your plan to writing. The moment you complete this, you will have definitely given concrete form to intangible desire.” This quote can be applied to many areas of our lives to ensure optimal living. It can certainly be applied to estate planning. 

Sonia Coleman
Sonia D. Coleman, P.C.

We use estate planning to protect our assets. We all have assets which we cherish. At first blush, we may think of material or worldly possessions. However, some of our most valuable assets are intangible. In fact, one of our most valuable intangible assets is our health. Without good health, we may be unable to either perform or enjoy the most basic of tasks.  We can make time to plan for better health by incorporating exercise and movement into our daily lives. We can also improve our health by taking vitamins, supplements, eating nutritious food, staying hydrated and getting more sleep. We are aware of these options for improving our physical health, but many times we make excuses, even though poor health poses a major obstacle to our overall enjoyment or quality of life. 

Although our health is certainly important, it is not our only valuable asset. Our time is also paramount and how we utilize or manage it can have a major impact on our lives. As an estate planning attorney, I help my clients to protect their material assets by making plans which are in alignment with their goals and objectives. When people fail to do so, they are often faced with unforeseen circumstances which they are unprepared to meet, jeopardizing both tangible and intangible assets. 

A fact scenario can clearly illustrate the point. Joseph was married to his wife, Mary for most of their adult lives. When Mary died, he was devastated. Joseph and Mary only had one child, their son, John. John passed away from Covid-19. John was unmarried and died without ever having children. Joseph was his only living heir. Shortly after John’s death, Joseph’s house caught fire and was destroyed. Joseph was forced to enter an assisted living facility which was quarantined. While in the facility and grieving the death of his only child, Joseph had to bury him, determine how to access his child’s assets and plan for his own future. Neither Joseph nor John had a will or powers of attorney. Joseph became ill while in the facility without any other living relatives who could assist. When faced with this troubling scenario, what could Joseph do? Well, one of the most effective things he could do is to commence with his estate planning. 

This unfortunate scenario illustrates the importance of estate planning and why it is crucial to plan before an emergency arises. Through proper estate planning you can: (1) transfer assets to your loved ones; (2) ensure that your directions are followed if you become disabled or upon your death; (3) protect your assets and (4) create generational wealth. 

What documents should be included in your estate plan? This is a very common question. Although this appears to be a simple question, the best answer is provided by your own estate planning attorney. There are many factors involved when determining the plan which aligns with your particular purposes. At the very minimum, almost everyone needs a will. Then, one may also need a power of attorney for healthcare and a power of attorney for property. In many cases, a revocable trust can address some circumstances. 

Sometimes people delay estate planning because of the costs and/or the amount of time it takes. However, creating an estate plan involves more than just creating documents. As an attorney, I often counsel my clients on the necessity of involving other professionals in the process. For example, I encourage my clients to create an estate planning team. Who should be a part of your estate planning team? Your physician, bank representative, certified public accountant, financial advisor and insurance representative. These professionals provide their unique perspective to the estate planning process and may introduce other vehicles. 

Just because you have prepared an estate plan in the past, this does not mean it is “one and done.” It is often necessary to review your plan when there is a major change in your life circumstances such as: diagnosis (physical or mental), death (of a close relative), divorce (or marriage), decade (every 10 years), and decline (physical or mental). Without an adequate estate plan, you may be unprepared to face many of life’s unforeseen challenges. Therefore, it is important to review and/or revise your estate plan to ensure it still aligns with your goals and objectives. 

All of our assets are worth preserving and protecting. This includes our relationships with loved ones, a healthy life-style, our time, and our material possessions. Through the process of estate planning, we are able to not only protect our material assets, but also preserve our non-material assets. Taking into account all facets of one’s life can result in an estate plan that creates both peace of mind and generational wealth. This is something that is priceless and worth more than its weight in gold. 

Disclaimer: This article was written for informational and educational purposes only. It is neither intended to be nor should be construed as legal or medical advice. Please consult with your own attorney or other professionals for advice about your own specific circumstances. 

The Law Office of Sonia D. Coleman is a professional corporation. The firm advises and counsels clients on wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and represents clients in probate, real estate closings, employment and corporate matters. The firm is located at 15255 South 94th Avenue, Suite 500, in Orland Park, IL. For more information about our podcasts and The Law Office of Sonia D. Coleman, P.C., please visit scolemanlaw.com.

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