The late comedian George Carlin was known for his satirical observations of everyday things. One of his most famous performances was entitled "A Place for My Stuff," which was a brilliant commentary on how people view their belongings, regardless of its value. In honor of his memory and perhaps illuminating look how we view our assets, let's look at the first part of the definition of Estate Planning through this "George Carlin" lens.
The first sentence of the Wikipedia definition describes Estate Planning as: "the process of anticipating and arranging for the disposal of an estate during a person's life."
During your lifetime, we collect a lot of stuff. Some of it may be worth quite a bit of money. Some of it might be worth no money, but has a lot of sentimental value to us. And we want the right people to get our stuff after we die.
Therefore, restating the above definition in common American English, Estate Planning is the manner of 1) figuring out what stuff you currently have now or likely will have in the future; 2) deciding who will get all this stuff when you die.
Hey, not so bad, right? But if that's all there was to being an estate planner, then this job would be easy, and you likely wouldn't be spending time reading about it. It is second part of the estate planning definition where it all gets tricky. So in the upcoming blog posts, I'll break the definition down into two separate parts: Probate and Taxes.