As winter takes hold, and back-to-school excitement dies down, there is one crucial task that is often overlooked designating legal guardians for your minor children. Legal guardians are the individuals you entrust with the care of your children if, for any reason, you are unable to do so yourself.
In the hustle of back-to-school shopping and end-of-season summer fun, it might seem like naming legal guardians for your kids is a low priority, but nothing could be farther from the truth.
As kids return to school, they’ll spend most of their day in the care of other people - their teachers, coaches, and babysitters. That means that your children will spend most of their time with people who do not have any legal authority to take care of them for more than a brief time in the event you are in an accident or can’t be reached for any reason.
And, if your kids are going off to college, you’ll no longer be able to make decisions for them or have...
As the need for affordable legal services becomes even more important in today’s world, it's common to opt for group legal insurance offered through your workplace benefits. These group insurance plans provide free legal assistance for a variety of needs from law firms that have contracted with the insurance company to provide the legal work.
While group legal insurance might seem like an easy option to save on your family’s legal needs, it’s often inadequate for creating the kind of estate plan you really need to protect your assets, your choices, and your loved ones. In fact - the type of estate plan, will, or trust created through legal insurance programs could leave your family with a big mess.
Here are the reasons why estate planning for your family demands a heart-centered, counseling-oriented approach and guidance beyond the scope of your group legal insurance coverage. I’ll help you understand the potential pitfalls of using group legal insurance for...
Last week we started the discussion of why it’s so important for LGBTQ+ families to invest in custom estate planning. While major strides for LGBTQ+ rights have been made in recent years, estate planning law is still written with hetero, cisgender couples in mind, which means that your wishes and your rights may not be respected when you die or if you become incapacitated without proper planning in place.
This week, I’m covering two more reasons why every LGBTQ+ family needs custom estate planning.
And if you missed last week’s blog, make sure to read it here to get the full scoop.
Let’s get started!
Although same-gender and LGBTQ+ relationships are more publicly recognized now than ever, creating effective estate plans for LGBTQ+ clients is still new territory for many traditional lawyers.
Some lawyers simply lack experience serving LGBTQ+ families...
July is National Family Reunion Month and the perfect time to reconnect with family from near and far, share life’s updates, and reminisce about the wonderful memories you share together. If you’re getting together with family this month, it’s also a perfect time to talk to your loved ones about your shared goals, family resources and the legacy you want to leave behind for the next generation.
You might think that estate planning is too somber a topic for a happy family reunion, but it can actually be an opportunity to bring you closer to your loved ones by giving everyone time to speak openly about their wishes for the family and can help everyone feel unified by working together toward the family’s future wellbeing.
Not sure how to bring up estate planning in a way that makes your family feel empowered? Keep reading to learn how to navigate the conversation without scaring away party guests!
Invite Your Loved Ones to the Conversation In...
When you think of estate planning, a Will is usually the first thing that comes to mind. In fact, most people who contact me tell me they don’t need anything complicated for their estate- just a Will. Indeed, Wills have a reputation as the number one estate planning tool and can be seen all over TV shows and movies, from the dramatic “reading of the Will” (which rarely happens in real life) to characters plotting how best to defraud their billionaire uncle’s Will in order to inherit his lavish estate.
But although Wills are a key part of your estate plan - and a big part of the movies - relying on a Will alone won’t solve your estate planning needs - no matter what Hollywood says. Instead, using just a Will to plan your final wishes is likely to leave your loved ones with an expensive mess that won’t distribute your assets in the way you intended.
What’s more, a Will alone won’t ensure that you’re taken care of in the...
Blended families were once considered “non-traditional” families, but today, blended families are becoming just as common as non-blended families. Currently, 52% of married couples (or unmarried couples who live together) have a step-kin relationship of some kind, and 4 in 10 new marriages involve remarriage.
If you’re part of a blended family, you’ve probably recognized the extra layer of complexity that comes with planning for your family’s needs and accommodating the many relationships that exist between step-parents, step-kids, and step-siblings. Topics that might be straightforward for a “traditional” family - such as where to spend the holidays or who gets the old family car - are more complex.
Feelings tend to be more sensitive, as the person in a “step” role may feel self-conscious about their place as the “outsider” of the family, whereas on the other hand, one parent’s children may...
As the world and its laws continue to evolve, everyone needs to keep their estate plans up to date. An estate plan is a set of documents, such as a will or trust, that dictate how assets will be distributed upon death or incapacity. An individual's current legal and financial situation should be considered to create a comprehensive estate plan tailored specifically to their needs.
The primary reason to update an estate plan is to ensure that an individual's wishes are respected upon death. For example, suppose an individual has recently acquired valuable property or has had changes in family structure (such as marriage or children). In that case, updating the documents that outline how assets should be distributed is important. If the documents are not updated, this could lead to disputes between family members and legal complications when probate occurs. Additionally, if laws change at the state or federal level, those changes need to be...
As a parent, you are quite accustomed to managing your children's legal and medical affairs, as circumstances require. If your child requires urgent medical attention while away from you, a simple phone call authorizing care can do the trick. But what happens when those “children” turn 18, now adults in the eyes of the law, and need urgent medical attention far from home?
The simple fact is that the day your child turns 18, he or she becomes an adult and has the legal rights of an adult. This means that you lose your prior held rights to make medical and financial decisions for your child unless your child executes legal documents giving you those rights back. Without the proper legal documents, accessing medical information and even being informed about your adult child’s medical condition can be difficult and in some cases, impossible.
When sending kids off to college, it is crucial to consider the legal implications of an accident or medical emergency on your...
Q: Can I leave my 401(k) to my minor children when I die?
A: Dear Pondering:
Though you can technically name a minor child as a beneficiary of your 401(k), IRA, or other employment-sponsored retirement accounts, it’s never a good idea. Minor children cannot inherit the account until they reach the age of majority—which can be as old as 21 in some states.
If a minor is listed as the beneficiary, upon your death, your retirement account would be distributed to a court-appointed custodian, who will manage the funds (often for a fee) until the age of majority. If you want your child to inherit your retirement account, you should set up a trust to receive those assets instead.
You can then name a trustee to manage the account until your child comes of age. By doing so, you get to choose not only who would manage your child’s money, but within the trust’s terms, you can stipulate how and when the account’s funds...
If you have a current estate plan, I'll bet you plan to leave your assets to your children outright and unprotected by age 35, or maybe a little later. Go take a look at your estate plan, and see what it does right now. And, if you don’t have an estate plan, and you have kids or other people you care about, contact us today and let’s get that handled for you.
If you do have a plan and it distributes your assets outright to your kids -- even in stages, over time, some at 25, then half of what’s left at 30, and balance at 35 (or something along those lines), you’ve overlooked d an incredibly valuable gift you can give your children (and the rest of your descendants for generations); a gift that only you can give them. And a gift that, once you’ve died and left them their inheritance outright, is lost and cannot be reclaimed.
While you may think to yourself, my...