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...
With high school graduation behind us, and summer half over, many parents will soon watch their children become adults (at least in the eyes of the law) and leave home to pursue their education and career goals.
Turning 18, graduating high school, and moving out is a huge accomplishment. It also comes with some serious responsibilities that probably aren’t at the forefront of their (or your) mind right now. Once your children become legal adults, many areas that were once under your control are now solely up to them.
Here’s the big one: Before they turned 18, you had access to their financial accounts and had the power to make all of their healthcare decisions. After they turn 18, however, you’re no longer able to do either.
Before your kids head out into the world, you should discuss this with them and have them sign some key estate planning documents. One you do that, if they become incapacitated, you can easily access their medical records and financial accounts...
Last week, I shared the first part of my series on the importance of estate planning for those without children. If you haven’t read it yet, you can do so here. Here in part two, we discuss the other risks involved for those who forego estate planning.
Someone will have power over your health care
Estate planning isn’t just about passing on your assets when you die. In fact, some of the most critical parts of planning have nothing to do with your money at all, but are aimed at protecting you while you’re still very much alive.
Advance planning allows you to name the person you want to make healthcare decisions for you if you’re incapacitated and unable to make decisions yourself.
For example, if you’re temporarily unconscious following a car accident or an illness like COVID, and unable to give doctors permission to perform a potentially risky medical treatment, it’s not always clear who’ll be asked to make that decision for you.
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...
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...
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...
If you are engaged to be married, divorce is probably the last thing you and your fiancé want to be thinking about. Yet you might be rightfully concerned about what would happen to your assets should your marriage end in divorce or in the event of your death. One option you might be considering for protecting your assets from these events is a prenuptial agreement.
However, even bringing up a prenup can be a romance killer that creates friction and distrust before the marriage even begins. And if it’s not properly created and executed, a divorce court can invalidate the asset protections offered by a prenup, so such agreements don’t exactly provide airtight protection.
Plus, a prenup would do nothing to keep your family out of court and out of conflict should you become incapacitated or when you die, which is something everyone who gets married needs to consider.
That said, prenups aren’t your only option. With proactive estate planning, for example, you can...