Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Why Do I Need An Estate Plan?

Sensing a theme this week? It seems that around the Fourth of July holiday, a bunch of people suddenly realized that they may want to get their affairs in order and I have been dealing with a variety of estate planning needs for my clients. The meetings all seem to start the same way, with the nice person across the table being convinced,

I just need a simple will. Maybe I should just use LegalZoom?

But then the real discussion starts. You can use an online form tool, but if you make a mistake or choose the wrong form, there is no one there to explain to you the folly of your ways. So our discussion continues about the need for an estate plan.

If you don't have an estate plan, the government (usually the state where you live) will decide what to do with your assets after you are gone.

That doesn't necessarily sound bad, right? To plenty of folks across the table, letting the government sort it out for them sounds about right (although these days, in this political climate, do you really trust the current government to get it right?). But what about the kids? And now our discussion gets a little more intense.

While some people don't really care if the government disperses their assets after they are gone, 

No one has ever sat across the table from me and been comfortable letting their local government decide who will take care of their children after they are gone.

Especially if the children are little and will need a guardian, and will need money for that guardian to take care of them and send them to school and other expenses, now the lightbulb in the head goes off that an estate plan is a helpful thing to have done correctly. Beyond money for the children, who will be appointed as their guardian to take care of them? What if you don't really like your brother-in-law who would be the favored appointee by the state? 

It usually takes about 15 - 20 minutes, but pretty quickly people can figure out that that "simple will" that they filled out on the internet is worth about as much as you pay for it. And of course, if you don't sign that "simple will" correctly, you've created a whole new level of complications for those who are left behind...

Still not sure why you need an estate plan? Feel free to contact me and we can discuss it further...

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