Building Legacies that Last Estate Planning and Elder Law

Who Really Needs an Estate Plan?

children in a circle holding handsIf you were to survey people about who most needs an estate plan, the most popular answer would likely be incorrect. People think that the wealthy need estate plans the most.  However, that is not true. Parents with minor children need them more.   Planning for young families is critical to protect loved ones.

One of the fascinating things about estate planning is how it is perceived by average Americans. When you talk to people about it, they often think of estate plans as a way for rich people to determine who gets their property when they pass away. That is a big part of it but it is not the only reason for estate planning. In fact, the wealthy benefit from planning more than other people, only if you think that money is the most important thing people have to protect and preserve.

Most people think protecting their children is more important than money. That is why parents with minor children have more reasons to plan their estates than wealthy single people, as Volume One points out in “When There’s a Will.”

When parents of minor children plan their estates, they accomplish two very important tasks. First, they figure out how their children’s expenses will be met. Parents who thoughtfully prepare their estate plans can decide who will handle their assets for the benefit of their children and how that will be done. Even more importantly, they can decide who will take care of their children, should they be orphaned.

An estate plan is the only means by which parents have a say regarding who should be appointed as the guardian of their minor children, if anything happens to the parents.

If you have minor children, talk to an estate planning attorney, so you can make sure they are taken care of if the worst happens.

Reference: Volume One (March 7, 2018 ) “When There’s a Will.”


Estate Planning Bad Advice is Common

It is very easy to find bad estate planning advice on the Internet. Make sure that you are listening to experts.

If you start Googling for advice about what to do with your estate, you are likely to find some good sources of information. You are also likely to find a lot of bad information, even from people who put themselves out as trusted sources.

A recent column in the Mercury News, "Money Manners," is an example of the problem.

A couple wrote in to ask the columnists' advice about something their attorney suggested they do.

The attorney suggested that they convene a family meeting to discuss the terms of their estate plan. The couple was hesitant, because they knew not everyone would be happy with their plans and they did not want to deal with the fallout.

MP900442500[1]Unfortunately, the columnists then gave bad advice and suggested that the attorney only gave his advice, so he did not have to be the one to deliver the bad news to the family after the couple passed away.

The problem is that most estate planning attorneys do advise clients to talk to their families about their plans and what they should expect to receive, if not specifically, at least generally.

That advice is not given to make it easy on the attorney.

The reason for the advice is so people are made aware of the plans ahead of time and have a chance to express any discontent. Once informed, people are much less likely to pursue litigation over the estate.

When people learn the reasons behind the decisions they do not like, they have time to digest and accept them without costing the estate a small fortune in litigation costs.

The lawyer, in this case, would stand to earn more money if any of the family members did decide to sue.

Make sure the advice you receive is from experts. Listen to your attorney.

Reference: Mercury News (July 13, 2017) "Money Manners."