My wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS) over 9 years ago. As an attorney, accountant, and financial planner, I’ve spent a lot of time identifying specific steps I can take to help her and deal with the many ways MS has changed our lives. I hope you find the following tips helpful, many of which I've implemented for my own family. And remember, everyone's situation is different, so what worked for our family may not work for yours.
Estate planning is about planning for your life and those you love. It’s not only for the wealthy, and it’s not primarily about taxes or legal complexities.
It’s important to be proactive about the estate and financial planning process. I suggest making lists of your next steps. Commit to completing your list in a timely manner. If you do not feel comfortable doing this yourself, it can be helpful to pass off the responsibility to others—like a lawyer, financial planner, or a website. This can help you get the items you need done, but you run the risk of not personalizing steps in the process. This process is about you and your loved ones. So try to be actively involved whenever you can.
If you get overwhelmed, I’d recommend asking for help from a family member, close friend, or work colleague. Many websites offer free financial calculators, budgeting and investment tools, and more. You can get a great start using these free Web resources, and then have someone you trust review what you’ve done (ideally someone with financial savvy). A “clean eye” looking over your planning is always useful. Doing as much legwork as possible ahead of time may provide a better and less costly result if you eventually consult a professional.
In my experience, estate planning can be a long process. So it’s important to start early and give it the time and dedication it deserves. Based on my experience, here is an overview of what estate planning might entail.
Estate and financial planning can make your life more secure and give you peace of mind. Take a broad perspective and stay actively involved in the process. Remember, it’s a process, not just a single document. Don’t try to do everything overnight. Set small goals and take a small step every week or month to get through the process with ease.