Spending and saving for the future requires balance

People in California may have seen an interesting article in the Wall Street Journal several weeks ago about a family, their differing personalities and their differences in their approach to financial planning. It's a story that plays itself out in millions of households across the U.S., but still rarely gets the attention it deserves.

Most people don't think about estate planning until the time is upon them, but when the pressure is mounting and time seems short, people can make hurried and uninformed financial decisions that may ultimately cost them, and their families, in the long haul. One reason people don't talk about estate planning is that they don't know who to turn to. Some people are reluctant to discuss money matters with friends or family, finding it coarse or uncomfortable. Unfortunately, the result is that people don't get the benefit of hearing others' stories and struggles, and the wisdom of these experiences is often lost from generation to generation.

A person's finances are certainly personal, but that doesn't mean they should go it alone. An estate planning attorney can help an individual develop a plan to transfer wealth to future generations and heirs while providing asset protection and peace of mind during his or her lifetime.

For example, the article in the Journal discussed a penny-pinching school teacher who worked hard to leave a modest sum to her children. One child immediately cashed out in a lump sum and presumably squandered his financial gift, but the other child was able to develop a financial plan to provide her some stability in retirement, and possibly enough to leave a legacy for her future heirs. The point is that estate planning isn't just for those with a substantial estate, and with the help of an experienced estates and trusts attorney, a person's money can stretch further and do more than perhaps they ever envisioned.

Source: Wall Street Journal "Adviser Salvages a Nearly Squandered Inheritance," Zack Anchors, Feb. 19, 2014

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