All too often young families avoid or put off executing Wills and other estate planning documents because they don’t think they need them. Ironically, they are the very ones who do need estate planning. A Will allows you to name the Guardian of current and future-born children. Testamentary Guardianships are automatically issued by the probate court. There is no court process involved, so no family drama over who will take care of your children if both parents are gone. Moreover, your Will can set up a simple testamentary trust for minors to ensure that the money you pass to your children is protected until they are ready to inherit it. To ensure your loved ones have no worries, it is also essential to go through your beneficiary designations on insurance, retirement and other assets.
Attention – parents with grandchildren:
Estate planning gift certificates make great Christmas and Birthday gifts for our children!
Whether you have a will-based estate plan or trust-based one choosing the right person who will be in charge of your assets when you are gone is sometimes a difficult decision for people. Gone are the days when the oldest son is automatically chosen. I’ve seen too many family fights occur simply because the wrong person is serving in this position. You know your family and its particular politics best.
Blended families may want to utilize Co-Personal Representatives so that a child from each side is represented. In some situations it is necessary to go to a neutral third party, like a neighbor, sibling, or professional. Things to consider when choosing:
- Are they fair?
- Are they good communicators?
- Are they able to take criticism and not let it bother them?
Worry less about who is “local” and more about who you truly trust to get the job done. Always remember to have plenty of contingency planning in case someone you choose dies, gets sick, or just doesn’t want to do it.
Choose wisely and you will minimize family discord after you pass.
Does your neighbor or best friend complain to you that if you don’t have a trust you will regret it? Everyone has heard of the word, but few people truly understand the benefits and drawbacks of trusts, let alone what kind of trust they may have. The truth is that not everyone needs a trust. The answer depends on what state you are a resident of when you die, and other factors including whether you own real estate in more than one state.
Read this handout and you will know more about trusts than that pesky neighbor who thinks you are doing everything wrong…
Kathryn Bedell 1/31/2019
Advice from a Seasoned Estate Planning & Probate Attorney
1. Don’t get your estate planning documents online. I estimate that 99% of what I do is not preparing documents, but giving tailored advice for your unique situation.
2. Use online research, but only to educate yourself, as well as to compare and contrast attorneys.
3. Interview lawyers, by telephone or at your first office meeting – shop around and ask for price.
4. Make sure to use a lawyer who only focuses on estate planning.
5. If you are afraid to interview a lawyer, use word of mouth – ask your friends.
Kathryn Bedell 12/26/2018
Many people mistakenly think that they have control over a loved one’s property by virtue of being a parent, a child, or a spouse. This is wrong! If you are disabled (hospitalized, nursing home) and unable to act for yourself, no one else can deal with your property. No one else can speak with social security, the IRS, the bank, even a utility provider if the account is solely in the unavailable person’s name. This even includes assets that are jointly held. Everyone, even young adults, should have a Durable Power of Attorney appointing someone they trust to immediately step into their shoes. Otherwise that loved one will need to get a guardianship and/or conservatorship to gain access, which is time consuming, burdensome, and extremely expensive.
Durable Powers of Attorney have strict requirements from state to state. For example, Maine has statutory notices that must be in every Maine Durable Power of Attorney. Grabbing a Durable Power of Attorney on-line is not a good solution and puts you at risk for having invalid documents.
Don’t ignore this critical document and leave your assets unprotected. EVERYONE must have a Durable Power of Attorney today.
Kathryn Bedell 12/12/2018