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I Don’t Have Kids, So Why Do I Need Estate Planning? Part 1

It’s a common misconception to think that if you don’t have children, you don’t need to worry about estate planning. But the fact is, it can be even MORE important to do estate planning if you have no children. 

Some of the common thoughts behind this mistaken belief may take one of these forms:

“If I die, everything will pass to my spouse anyway, so why bother?”

“I’m single with little wealth, so who cares who gets my few meager assets?”

“Estate planning is an expensive hassle and it doesn’t even benefit me because I’ll be dead, so I’m better off letting a judge handle things.”

This kind of thinking ignores several basic facts about both estate planning and life in general. Regardless of your marital status, if you don’t have children, you face potential estate-planning complications which those with children do not. And this is true whether you’re wealthy or have very limited assets.

Without...

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The Perfect Solution for Choosing Your Child’s Guardian

If you have minor children and have not yet selected a guardian, you are not unlike many parents who put off this critically important task while waiting for the perfect solution to present itself. 

Or perhaps you and your spouse/partner cannot agree on who would be the ideal guardian for your kids...

Here is your solution:  Done is better than perfect. Especially here.

If you do nothing, the decision about who would raise your children (if something were to happen to you) would be left up to a judge to decide.  A judge who doesn’t know you, doesn’t know what’s important to you, and doesn’t know your children, will make all the decisions about who cares for the people who are most important to you in the world.

I know that’s not what you want.

And, truth is… there may never be a perfect solution for you, but there is definitely a solution that is better than your children being raised by someone you didn’t choose. 

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The Legal Planning You Need to Do for Your High School Graduate

The Legal Planning You Need to Do for Your High School Graduate

If you’re the parent of a high school graduate this year, congratulations!  You’ve put in a lot of time and effort toward their earning that diploma, and whatever their next step in life will be, you likely want to protect them just as much as you did while they were still in high school.

But before you pack that kid off to college or just an apartment across town, you need to know that when they leave, they will be taking some of the legal rights you had before they turned 18 with them. 

Once a child turns 18, they are no longer considered a child in the eyes of the law.  And you no longer have the legal right to access their health care, school, or banking records without their permission.  Here are some steps you should take before your child leaves the nest that will help ensure your peace of mind and their safety:

Create an advance healthcare directive.  Once your child is...

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How to Discuss Estate Planning With Aging (or Sick) Loved Ones - Part 2

In our last newsletter, we shared the first part of our article on how to discuss estate planning with aging or sick loved ones.

If you didn’t read it yet, you can do so here.

Here’s the bottom line: learn to ask the right questions and then listen deeply. This may be a difficult topic for your loved one to discuss, so make sure you are bringing your curiosity, not answers, and then staying open to truly hear what your loved one wants. 

Ask your loved one what role they would like you to take, rather than assuming. And reassure your loved one that you have no expectations, but that you will be involved as much or as little as he or she desires.

If you need support on the right questions to ask, check out the Conversation Project. Their Conversation Starter Kit, available for free on their website, has a series of questions that you can use to begin the conversation about end of life care with your loved one. 

Be able to answer questions. If your loved one...

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How to Discuss Estate Planning With Aging or Sick Loved Ones - Part 1

Someone you love is aging. Or maybe, facing a potentially terminal illness. And you know it’s time for them to think about end of life planning because the end of their life will impact you. 

So how do you broach this delicate topic when it feels so uncomfortable to acknowledge?

The first step is to acknowledge that it can be a difficult or uncomfortable conversation. Give yourself time to consider how you want to bring it up with your loved one.

Ideally, considering end of life matters would be something we regularly spoke about and got comfortable with before the end of life was near, but that’s not generally the case in our culture. 

You can change that going forward, and I’ll share an article next week with guidance for how to make end of life discussions a regular part of your family conversations. If you have been reading my articles all year, you will see that I make it a practice to speak plainly and openly about it.  

But, if you...

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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer—Part 2

Since you’ll be discussing topics like death, incapacity, and other frightening life events, hiring an estate planning lawyer may feel intimidating or morbid. But it definitely doesn’t have to be that way. 

Instead, it can be the most empowering decision you ever make for yourself and your loved ones. The key to transforming the experience of hiring a lawyer from one that you dread into one that empowers you is to educate yourself first. This is the person who is going to be there for your family when you can’t be, so you want to really understand who the lawyer is as a human, not just an attorney. Of course, you’ll also want to find out the kind of services the lawyer offers and how they run their business.

To gather this information and get a better feel for who the individual is at the human level, we suggest you ask the prospective lawyer five key questions. Last week in part one we listed the first two of these questions, and here, we cover the...

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5 Questions to Ask Before Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer—Part 1📍

Since you’ll be discussing topics like death, incapacity, and other frightening life events, hiring an estate planning lawyer may feel intimidating or morbid. But it definitely doesn’t have to be that way.

Instead, it can be the most empowering decision you ever make for yourself and your loved ones. The key to transforming the experience of hiring a lawyer from one that you dread into one that empowers you is to educate yourself first. This is the person who is going to be there for your family when you can’t be, so you want to really understand who the lawyer is as a human, not just an attorney! Of course, you’ll also want to find out the kind of services your potential lawyer offers and how they run their business.

To this end, here are five questions to ask to ensure you don’t end up paying for legal services that you don’t need, expect, or want. Once you know exactly what you should be looking for when choosing a planning professional,...

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Safeguard Your Cryptocurrency Assets With Estate Planning

One of the biggest appeals of cryptocurrency, like Bitcoin, is that it is decentralized, unregulated, and anonymous. There are no financial institutions controlling it, and unless you tell someone you own digital currency, it remains a secret.

When it comes to estate planning, however, that kind of secrecy can be disastrous. In fact, without the appropriate planning protections in place, all of your crypto wealth will disappear the moment you die or become incapacitated, leaving your family with absolutely no way to recover it.

Indeed, we’re facing a potential crisis whereby millions—perhaps billions—of dollars’ worth of family wealth could potentially vanish into thin air unless you take action to protect your digital assets with estate planning. Fortunately, putting the appropriate safeguards in place is a fairly straightforward process for a Lawyer to assist you with completing.

The first step in securing your crypto assets is to let your heirs...

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👩‍👩‍👧‍👦 3 Estate Planning Concerns For Married, Same-Gender Couples 👨‍👨‍👧‍👦

With marriage equality, same-gender couples no longer have to pay exorbitant amounts of money for creative estate-planning work-arounds just to achieve similar protections offered to opposite-gender couples. Yet same-gender couples continue to face unique planning challenges.

Because you may have family members who remain opposed to the validity of your marriage, same-gender couples’ estate plans are often more vulnerable to dispute and even sabotage by unsupportive relatives. This could mean that family members are more likely to contest your wishes, or it might entail custody battles over non-biological children in the event of the biological parent’s death.

Unsupportive family members may even try to block the ability of your spouse to make medical decisions on your behalf should you become incapacitated by accident or illness.

While the planning vehicles available to same-gender and opposite-gender married couples are generally the same, there are a few unique...

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Life Changes that Require an Update to Your Estate Plan 🤱

Even if you do not have an estate plan that you’ve created, the State has one for you. And it’s likely one you won’t like. If you live in Georgia, did you know that if you pass without a will your spouse and children will equally share your assets? Even if they are young kids! Minnesota and other states have their own version of where the money goes. It may be time for you to review the plan the State has for you and make more informed, empowered choices for your family.

If you have created an estate plan with a lawyer, or on your own, it may be time for a review and an update. Estate planning is simply not something you do once, set it and forget it. In the same way your life, the law, and your assets change, your estate plan must sometimes change as well.

Far too many people spend thousands of dollars on a plan, only to have it sit on a shelf getting stale, and then end up leaving their family with a huge mess they had invested time and money to prevent.

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