Estate planning is something that takes a good bit of forethought, and this is true whether you have a complex estate or not. Of course, the more ambitious your goals are the more things you are going to have to take into account, and it is indeed important to identify those goals as soon as possible. There are people who sit back after retirement, inventory their assets, and then begin the task of deciding how they would like to distribute them. At that point they may find that they are not in a position to do what they’d really like to do for their families due to the fact that they didn’t plan ahead.
How you want to approach your estate is a personal matter. There are those who live by the ethos that you see on those bumper stickers: “I’m busy spending my children’s inheritance.” If that’s the way you feel, so be it. But there are others who may have very specific wishes for their children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren and perhaps other family members. What you do with your assets throughout your life should have something to do with your estate goals. Would you rather take your tenth cruise, or earmark that money for your granddaughter’s college fund? Should you sell that classic car now and use the cash to buy new furniture, or keep it in the garage with the intention of passing it along to your son?
You have to have an idea of what you would like to achieve with your estate, because it is going to impact those types of decisions. What is realistically possible depends on your means of course, but regardless of financial status we would all like to provide certain things for our loved ones when we pass on. This is why long term financial planning and estate planning go hand in hand. The wise course of action is to sit down and consider what you would like to do for your family and then consult with an estate planning attorney who has the expertise to get you on a path toward meeting those goals.