The pandemic is causing us to consider a lot of things that we may not have before, even if maybe we should have. Especially as it continues to linger and worsen and spike.
It brings to mind something a colleague of mine shared a while back. One unremarkable weekend, she left her small children with a babysitter and headed out to enjoy dinner at a restaurant with her husband. But as she sat there, a thought crept into her head that she couldn’t let go.
What would happen to her kids, she thought, if she and her husband got into a car accident on the way home? If you have talked with me for any length of time, I have probably shared this story with you. It was a conversation with this particular colleague that changed my entire perspective on my estate planning practice. It also made me feel I had failed to truly plan for my own kids.
And even though my colleague is an estate planning lawyer herself, and she had a will at home naming guardians for...
When it comes to estate planning, you’ve most likely heard people mention a couple of different types of wills. The most common is a “last will and testament,” which is also known simply as a “will.” But you may have also heard people talk about what’s called a “living will.”
Both terms describe important legal documents used in estate planning, but their purpose and the way in which they work is very different. In fact, using the term "living wills" is actually outdated in many states and not used anymore.
Let's talk about some of the most critical things you should know about what living wills are, and why having updated documents to replace these, is an essential part of every adult’s estate plan and how to get yours created or updated.
1. What Is A Living Will?
A living will, in some states is often called an “advance healthcare directive,” and is a legal document that tells your loved ones and doctors how...
Think You Are Too Young to Need An Estate Plan? Think Again
As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers on, it has caused Americans to change their behavior in a number of different ways, and one of the most positive of these changes is related to estate planning. For the first time since the study’s inception, Caring.com’s 2021 Wills and Estate Planning Study found that young adults are now more likely to have an estate plan than middle-aged adults.
Specifically, the study found that in 2020 only 16% of Americans aged 18 to 34 reported having a will or another estate planning document, but in 2021, that percentage rose by 10 points to 26%—a 63% increase in just one year. Conversely, the 2021 study found that the number of 35 to 54 year-olds with an estate plan actually decreased from 27% in 2020 to 22% in 2021.
Since young adults are traditionally the least likely to engage in estate planning, the study’s results are...
If you’re active on social media, Facebook probably plays a prominent role in your life. And now, social media can even play a role in your afterlife.
Because of our interconnectedness through social media, estate planning has evolved to take into account more than just your tangible assets. Your digital assets are looked at as well, such as cryptocurrency, websites, and social media accounts. Though social media may seem trivial compared to the rest of your personal property, a Facebook account can function as a virtual diary of your daily life, making it a part of your legacy—and one you’ll may want to protect.
Since social media is so new, there are very few state laws governing how your Facebook account should be handled upon your death. In light of this, Facebook itself is in nearly total control of what happens to your profile after you die. Without proper planning, your post-mortem Facebook presence can be harmful to the loved...
Vacations and Holidays Are the Perfect Time for Families to Talk About Estate Planning
If you are spending the upcoming holiday with older family members, this is actually a great opportunity to talk about planning with them. While there are few “perfect” times to talk with parents about their estate plan, the relaxed times you spend together on vacation or downtime during the holidays can be one of them. You have the benefit of having everyone together sitting down in one place. So take advantage of that!
Here are some tips on how to bring up this critical conversation:
Find a good place to start.
One of the best ways to ease your parents into a financial discussion is to bring up your own. Tell your parents that you were looking into your own estate plan and wondering if they had already executed their own. You can let them know that you have learned that the different types of plans require very different levels of effort from the executor and cost from...
In the first part of this series, we discussed one of the most frequent causes for dispute over your estate plan. Here, we’ll look at another leading cause for dispute and tell you how to avoid it!
Let's be honest, most families have disagreements, disputes, or just plain drama even in the best of times. When considering what will happen to your estate when you die or if you become incapacitated, why leave it up to chance? This quick read can help you avoid uncomfortable family dynamics even if you're not around to play peacemaker.
No one wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-saving medical treatment, but we see it all the time. This is especially true for those who rely on do-it-yourself estate planning documents found online. The good news is you can dramatically reduce the odds of such conflict by enlisting my support...
Let's be honest, most families have disagreements, disputes, or just plain drama even in the best of times, so when you're considering what will happen to your estate when you die or if you become incapacitated, why leave it up to chance? This quick read can help you avoid uncomfortable family dynamics even if you're not around to play peacemaker.
No one wants to believe their family would ever end up battling one another in court over inheritance issues or a loved one’s life-saving medical treatment, but we see it all the time. This is especially true for those who rely on do-it-yourself estate planning documents found online. (You may think that most lawyers would try to convince you to do otherwise, but did you know that many lawyers actually love those online platforms?? Estate administration is a very lucrative hourly billing model, and the worse the documents, the more it costs your family to fix after you die! I would rather you get the guidance to do it...
Many families choose to spend their Thanksgiving Holiday volunteering at soup kitchens, food pantries, or other shelters. While this is a great time of year to do so, we know that these facilities are overwhelmed with volunteers during the holiday season and then in great need of volunteer and monetary support the rest of the year when families have gone back to their day-to-day lives. Volunteer work such as this is such a great way to teach your children gratitude, financial responsibility, and to recognize there are many in need this week and all year round.
Volunteering and giving are great opportunities to build family unity. Bob Graham, Founder of the Namaste Foundation has discussed that in his career as a CPA he worked with clients who had inherited wealth. “I noticed the tremendous insecurities many had,” says Bob. “They lacked confidence in their ability to earn money on their own and were fearful of losing money – almost to the point of being...
Life insurance products can be complicated to pick from and even more complicated to understand; especially when you’re up against sales pitches from the people selling them (who stand to make a lot of money off of your decisions). The first question to ask yourself is, “Do I have an obligation to provide income replacement for the people who depend on me?” This question could also be more along the lines of, "Do I want my loved ones to have an additional source of income to pay for household services or support if I am gone?" If the answer is “yes”, then you should have some kind of life insurance so that those people don’t have an additional worry.
The type of life insurance you should buy depends on your family goals and circumstances. The two main types of insurance you’ll hear about are "term" and "whole life."
Term insurance is just what it sounds like, for a...
Do your parents have an estate plan? Is it up to date? No matter how much you think you and your parents do or don't have, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, you need to be asking these and several other questions. When your parents become incapacitated or die, their affairs will become your responsibility, and it will be impossible to ask them to clarify anything. So, if you don't know whether or not they have estate planning in place that will help you best support them, let us help you figure it out!
The Best-Case Scenario
In a best-case scenario, your parents have an updated estate plan, and they’ve walked you through it. They have provided an inventory of their assets that’s easy for you to find listing out everything they own, how it’s titled, and who it should go to and how. Ideally, it also includes directions on how to handle their non-monetary assets, and an audio recording or written stories that pass on their values,...
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