Estate Planning

Estate Planning

Christopher Bullock wrote in 1716 in The Cobbler of Preston, “Tis impossible to be sure of anything but death and taxes.” To his point, both death and taxes are unpredictable and inevitable.  Taxes are ever changing.  And we will all die whether we are comfortable discussing it and whether we are prepared for it or not. None of us are immune to car wrecks, cancer, strokes, heart attacks, random acts of violence, or life-threatening accidents.  Some people like to pretend it will never happen to them, and the result when it does happen can be disastrous.  Leaving behind loved ones who are distraught is bad enough as it is.  But adding chaos and confusion to the situation can be outright unbearable.  The good news is I can help you manage both – death and taxes.  With proper planning, you can leave loved ones with a well thought out plan, so they (and you) have peace of mind.

There are two types of people -those who do not care about who they leave behind and in what condition, and those that truly care about those they leave behind and in what condition.  If you are the latter, I want to work with you to come up with a plan that will ensure your wishes are memorialized and carried out and your family is educated, informed, prepared, equipped, and financially secure.

Proper planning means you get to decide now exactly what will happen to your loved ones and your assets. This ensures not only will your wishes be followed, but the plan will also reduce, if not eliminate, the chances that people you don’t know or trust will be the ones making important decisions about your family and your assets.  A proper plan will also reduce if not eliminate the chances that others will fight over who gets to make the decisions about who gets what, how, and when.

When you meet with me, I will ask all the questions and account for every possibility as we protect your loved ones and your assets.  Now is the time to create or revise your plan to account for a marriage, the birth of a child, a divorce, adult children, a special-needs dependent, or any number of other major life changes.

Let’s Get Started

I’ve developed a process that makes getting started with an estate plan very easy.  First, I will send you and ask you to complete a worksheet.  This will help you get a clear picture of what you own and what you have to think about when it comes to planning for the well-being and care of your loved ones and your assets. Next, we conduct a planning session, where we spend time discussing your intake form and giving you the information you need to make important decisions. If you decide your current state of affairs is unacceptable, and if we both decide that we want to work together, then we can design an estate plan together that will best suit the needs of your family.

Why Me

I’m interested in being in lifelong relationships with my clients.  I want to be your trusted counselor in life – not some one time hired gun.  I don’t bill by the hour, and I return my calls and email.

Maybe you aren’t sure about what you want or why.  I can help you with that.

Maybe you just need some help getting started.  I can help you with that.

Maybe you have come across offers from lawyers for expensive estate plans that you didn’t want or need or inexpensive estate plan packages that didn’t meet your needs or expectations.  Maybe your lawyer talked down to you or didn’t listen to you.  I can do better.

Maybe you are worried about the cost.  I can work with you on that.  I can explain the value of what you are getting (what you are saving in the long run). Also, my plans are priced under market.

You may be tempted by free or super inexpensive online resources, but please be careful. Unless you know what is supposed to be in the documents, what should not be in them, and why, these cookie-cutter forms often don’t work because they fail to take into consideration all the different occurrences and nuances of your unique situation. Often they are not executed properly, and if not, they are procedurally deficient.  These no-cost or low-cost internet document providers are passing off what is little more than word processing as estate planning. You are asked a few standard questions, and then the drafter decides which “plan” is right for you and fits you into a template. This is not estate planning; it is little more than a “search and replace” of your family’s name and then a hit of the “print” button, which “spits out” form documents.  Will these documents work when you need them to?  Maybe, maybe not.  Do they provide a false sense of security?  Probably.

It is very important to distinguish between paying someone or something for documents and paying trusted counsel and attorney for his or her education, experience, advice, and expertise.  If you want me to write a plan for you, I will educate and empower you.  I will take the time to get to know you, your family, your concerns, your goals, and your specific wants and issues and will gladly and patiently answer all your questions.  By doing it right the first time, you will save yourself the heartache of watching an internet form plan crumble. You’ll save yourself the time, energy, and resources to try and fix the failures (if that’s even possible) and then redo everything correctly the second time around.  Seriously, if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right the first time.  Together we will create an estate plan that is exactly right for you. Every family is unique, and we can work with you to meet all of your needs.

What’s in a Plan

You can choose documents ala carte (i.e., a will, etc.); however, most clients prefer to have a comprehensive plan – one that includes multiple documents.  What’s in a plan depends on what you want and need.  If you decide that a will based plan is best, the plan will include a will, a living will, advance healthcare directives and designation, a power of attorney, a HIPAA release, a pre-need guardian document, and final disposition and instructions.  A trust-based plan will include those same documents and also one or more trusts.  A trust is an efficient and effective way to transfer property and transfer control over that property from one person or entity to another.  Use of a trust is a great way to avoid probate, which is public and can be time consuming and expensive.  If you want a trust, you would simply transfer your property into a trust for your benefit during your life and then provide for who gets the assets and who will serve as trustee when you are gone. You can also create lifetime asset protection trusts for your children – especially if you are worried about them losing assets to an ex-spouse, lawsuit/judgment, or creditor.

If you are a family with a minor child, then your estate plan should also include guardianship documents. These are important to ensure that your minor child will always be taken care of, no matter what happens by the person or persons you trust the most.  Since I am a father of two minor children, and since I researched this issue extensively when I drafted my own plan, this is quickly becoming my specialty-drafting plans for families with minor children, which includes a Guardianship Roadmap.  Did you know that 69 percent of parents have not yet named guardians for their kids, and the super vast majority of those that did, buried the guardianship provision in only a will? Let’s talk about why that is so dangerous and risky.

Without proper planning, a judge who does not know you or your family will decide who will raise your kids, even if it is the last person you would ever want. Also, whether they are ready for it or not, when your kids turn 18, they could get a check for the lump sum of whatever assets are left, and this occurrence would be public information.

Working with us now will ensure that your kids are taken care of – and your money is taken care of for them – according to your wishes, not a stranger’s.

It is also vital that everyone have documents in an estate plan that account for incapacity.  It is far more likely a person will become incapacitated before he or she passes. When this happens, who will make the important critical decisions?  Who decides: (a) what medical care (if any) you are to receive, and (b) for how long the medical care should be provided? And if this happens, who will have access to your important documents and accounts so that this person can do what you would do if you were awake? Is this the right person?  How can you be sure?

Let’s Connect

Call me today to schedule a planning session. There is no commitment, and you will learn important information about protecting your family, your assets, and your future.

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