Most of us have heard about the concept of the “butterfly effect” which essentially posits the notion that everything is connected. So when we’re talking about estate planning it is important to recognize the fact that it is not happening in a vacuum.
The word “planning” is key here because it doesn’t take a whole lot of foresight or strategizing to create a document stating that persons A, B and C will split the assets that are left over after person D dies. Some people look at it this way, but when you have genuine legacy goals it is wise to identify them and work backward as you plan for your retirement and twilight years.
If you have what could be described as virtually unlimited resources you could set aside a block of assets that you know you couldn’t possibly need and consider these resources to comprise your estate and plan in a compartmentalized fashion. There those who are in a position to do so and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but the majority of people, even those with a net worth into the seven figures may well not have that luxury.
From the time you retire to the day you pass away there are countless unknowns that factor into any sort of intelligent planning. Perhaps the two most significant ones would be the fact that you don’t know how long you’re going to live and you don’t know how well your health is going to hold up.
The average life expectancy in the United States at this point is just over 78 years. So if you passed away at that age the anatomy of your legacy may look a lot different than it would if you expired at age 98 after living for 15 years in various long-term care facilities while accruing significant medical expenses.
The point is to remember that everything is connected and it may be a good idea to look at planning for retirement, your twilight years, and the passing of your legacy as one broad, holistic endeavor.