This is an article from the law office of Horn & Johnsen (http://hornjohnsen.com/) in Madison, Wisconsin, that we thought others may find helpful.
My husband and I just returned from a much-needed vacation to Cozumel, Mexico. When I considered the steps it took to get us there, it occurred to me that vacation planning is surprisingly similar to estate planning!
From considering the type of vacation that made the most sense for our family, to researching options online, to choosing a travel agent, every step was equally important to ensure our vacation would meet our expectations.
Because we would be traveling with our 3.5-year-old daughter, traveling on the cheap and hoping the pieces came together in the end was simply not a viable option. Therefore, we chose an all-inclusive package and worked with a local travel agent. We paid more in the end, but the extra cost was worth every penny! Our room was exactly what we had hoped for (a suite overlooking the ocean), we had seats together during our flights, and all ground transportation was handled smoothly and without incident. I can only imagine the havoc my toddler might have wreaked in the event any piece to our puzzle had fallen through the cracks.
Similarly, when you decide you are ready to get an estate plan in place, I would encourage you to research your options online and to work with a trusted local attorney who focuses his or her practice specifically in the area of estate planning. Make sure the option you choose makes the most sense for your family and for your particular circumstances.
In my experience, most estate planning clients prefer a one-time package price so they know exactly how much their plan will cost and what is included. This can be accomplished with either a will-based plan or a more comprehensive living trust-based plan that can avoid probate and can provide added protections for your beneficiaries such as divorce and creditor protection.
When you consider how much is at stake, it often doesn’t make sense to plan “on the cheap” because, ultimately, it is your loved ones who will need to clean up the mess when you’re gone. The primary difference between vacation planning and estate planning is that, with estate planning, you can’t determine your departure date.