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What's in your estate planning kit?

Black Enterprise was my go-to magazine as a young adult. I loved the lists of black-owned companies and industry titans. But, most of all, I loved “The 10 Wealth for Life Principles”. Black Enterprise introduced these principles in 2000 to help close the wealth gap between black Americans and others. Whether you are a college student or a working professional, the wealth principles apply to you. I encourage you to take a look at each of them, but for now, I'd like to focus on wealth principle number 9:

I will guarantee my wealth is passed on to future generations through proper insurance and estate planning.

What did this mean for me?

  • I don’t want my family to pass the plate or set up a GoFundMe account to pay for my final expenses.

  • I don’t want there to be any disagreements or hurt feelings when executing my final wishes.

  • I don’t want the courts deciding what happens to my assets.

So what did I do to plan for my family?

  • · Living Trust

  • · Will

  • · Power of Attorney

  • · Medical Power of Attorney

  • · Life Insurance

I set up a living trust. In the simplest terms, a living trust allows me to name a trustee to manage my affairs so that my assets do not go to probate, which is often time-consuming and costly. So, ideally, my home, car, and other assets are registered not in my name but in the name of my trust.

I’m not at an attorney or tax professional, and this isn’t meant to be tax or legal advice. I used an attorney to help me set-up my trust and will. Although, there are do it yourself options.

Want to know more about trust accounts? Here’s a great article from Investopedia with more details.

I have a will. It details what happens to things such as my sorority paraphernalia and my funeral program. Yes, I’ve planned my service. I only want an A & B selections. Not an A, B, C, and D selections. Sis. Jackson doesn’t need to read all of the condolence cards. I’ve never understood the church secretary reading every line of every Hallmark card received. But, I digress. My will also covers the care of my minor children.

I also have a medical (healthcare) power of attorney. What happens if I’m on life support? What happens if I am only being kept alive by machines? What do I want to happen?

I also have a power of attorney. If I was to become incapacitated, could be husband easily take over without a court order?

And I have sufficient life insurance on myself, my spouse, and my children’s father.

Less than thirty days after George and I said “I do,” the notary was at our house with a few of our neighbors to notarize and witness our updated documents. For me, these documents were just as important as our wedding certificate.

George and I when we eloped in 2016

A few months ago, I convinced my mom to help me update her paperwork as well. It was essential for me to understand from my mom while she was of sound mind and body where she wanted to be buried, what should I do if she was being kept alive by machines, etc. I feel much better having her final wishes documented. My sister and I will be able to fulfill her final wishes with no drama. Side note: my mom wants to be buried at sea!

Me and my beautiful and sassy Mom

Death isn’t easy or free. If I can eliminate the worry of paying for final costs and trying to determine my final wishes, why not do it?

Talking about finances and death is taboo in many of our households. We just didn’t have those conversations growing up. And people get uncomfortable. It makes it even harder when you're an adult.

I've heard people say I don't want people to get my money when I'm gone. Well, it will go to someone so you might as well decide now. At the least, you can make decisions today to limit the tax man's portion of your assets.

I've heard people say, I'm not rich. I'm not either, but what I do have I want it to be used wisely. You have to make a plan.

I am so thankful that I was able to have this conversation with my mom and hubby. Do you need to have “the talk” with a loved one?

What steps are you taking to ensure your wealth is passed on to future generations through proper insurance and estate planning?

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