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More About Estate Planning

What is estate planning?

It may surprise you to know that estate planning has very little to do with money or legal documents.  Estate planning is really about creating your legacy: protecting and providing for you, your loved ones, and your property; staying in control; and offering guidance.

Who needs estate planning?

Actually, everyone needs estate planning.  Children under the age of 18 are protected by their parents’ estate plan and everyone age 18 or older needs his or her own estate plan.  Of course, estate plans vary immensely depending on goals, finances, family situation, domicile (where you live).  There is no one-size-fits all estate plan.

When do my children need to get their own estate plan?

Everyone is surprised when we answer this question.  Even an 18-year-old high school senior needs her own estate plan.  Once a child attains the age of 18, she is legally an adult and must make her own health care, financial, and legal decisions.  Without legal documentation, parents are powerless to act on behalf of their adult children.

Of course an 18-year-old’s estate plan is very different than a 48-year-old’s estate plan because life, assets, goals, and family situation evolve over 30 years, but some basics are the same.

Why do I need estate planning documents?

Your estate planning documents may seem complicated, but they’re simply instructions so those you select to help (trusted helpers) know what to do when.  Many of our clients think of their estate planning documents as an instruction book.  That’s all they are.

This is how it works: You chat with us about your goals, fears, dreams, finances, and family and we help you craft an estate plan (i.e. instruction book) that includes the legal language required to carry out your plan.  Even though some legal terms, descriptions, and language is required, please know that we make a sincere effort to write each estate plan in plain English readable for your loved ones and trusted helpers.

How much money do I need before an estate plan is necessary?

You don’t need to be a Rockefeller or Kennedy to need an estate plan.  In fact, you don’t need any assets to need an estate plan.  What you do need is the desire to control your life or finances, someone you love, the desire to maintain privacy, or the wish to avoid court interference.

For example, an estate plan empowers your trusted helpers to make healthcare decisions and manage your day-to-day business if you’re not able.  An estate plan also appoints guardians for minor children and pets.  And, avoiding medical heroics through a living will is also part of an estate plan.