The best way to give yourself peace of mind is to educate yourself. Speak with a fee-based Certified Financial Planner about your retirement. Develop a budget. Pay off debt. Read. No one can eliminate all risks in life, but you can minimize them. Speak with your insurance agent about liability coverage. Be wary of purchasing expensive products, especially from commissioned salesmen (or saleswomen) until you have all of the facts. Recycle your belongings (e.g, get your car repaired instead of purchasing a new one). Stretch your dollars so you can use them on things you value most. Then, once you’ve done these things, …. live your life. Retirement planning and budgeting are smart, but they should never be treated as handcuffs. They are tools to empower you to reach your goals.
The number one way to give your children peace of mind is by taking care of yourself. Go to your doctor regularly, take your medications as prescribed, eat right, and get a healthy amount of exercise. Try to avoid risky behavior that could result in injury.
The next way to give your children peace of mind is by making and communicating decisions now that will eliminate arguments and heart-ache later. Execute a power of attorney and a health care advance directive that appoints someone you trust as the decision-maker if you cannot make your own financial and health care decisions. If you appoint one child rather than another, explain yourself to your children. For example, one child might be closer than the others, or might have specialized skills or experience. Or your reason might simply be “because that’s what you want.” Whatever your reasoning is, explain yourself. If you don’t speak with your children in person, then put your reasons in your estate planning documents.
Put your estate in order. Have a Will, or a trust, or whatever you and your lawyer decide is appropriate for your estate. Also, organize your assets in a way that communicates what you own and who your children should contact for more information.
If you decide to leave one of your children more (or less) than the others, explain your reasons. You are free to do as you choose, but misunderstandings or assumptions about your estate plan can create arguments and foster ill-will.
Finally, communicate your family values and your feelings about your children. While this is not a legal document per se, if you care about your children’s well-being, then tell them what’s most important to you. Communicate your legacy and your hopes for the future of your children and grandchildren. This is known as an ethical will, but it doesn’t have to be a chore. If you want to do it in writing, you can, but you can also turn on a tape recorder and talk to your loved ones. Tell them what you want them to remember about you.