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...
As we are about to wrap up another Pride Month, the LGBTQ+ community faces an increasingly uncertain legal landscape. In the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, ending the recognition of a constitutional right to abortion, many are worried that other rights, especially for same-gender couples, who might also be under threat.
In fact, with Roe overturned, legal experts warn that the Supreme Court’s new Republican majority may come for landmark LGBTQ-rights decisions next, including marriage equality established by Obergefell v. Hodges. In light of this potential challenge, it’s critical that same-gender couples ensure their estate plans are carefully reviewed and updated by an estate planning lawyer who understands the special needs of LGBTQ+ planning to address any such developments.
Although we will have to wait and see whether the Supreme Court ultimately decides to rule on marriage equality, same gender couples can act right now...
Because estate planning involves actively thinking about and planning for frightening topics like death, old age, and chronic disability, many people put it off or simply ignore it all together until it’s too late. Sadly, this unwillingness to face reality often creates serious hardship, expense, and trauma for those loved ones you leave behind.
To complicate matters, the recent proliferation of online estate planning document services, such as LegalZoom®, Rocket Lawyer®, and Trustandwill.com, may have misled you into thinking that estate planning is a do-it-yourself (DIY) affair, which involves nothing more than filling out the right legal forms. However, proper estate planning entails far more than filling out legal forms.
In fact, without a thorough understanding of how the legal process works upon your death or incapacity and applies specifically to your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, you’ll likely make serious mistakes when...
Unless you’ve created an estate plan that works to keep your family out of court, when you die (or become incapacitated) many of your assets must go through probate before those assets can be distributed to your heirs. Like most court proceedings, probate can be time-consuming, costly, and open to the public, and because of this, avoiding probate—and keeping your family out of court—is often a central goal of estate planning.
To spare your loved one’s the time, cost, and stress inherent to probate, last week in part one of this series, we explained how the probate process works and what it would entail for your loved ones. Here in part two, we’ll discuss the major drawbacks of probate for your family, and outline the different ways you can help them avoid probate with wise planning. (See what you missed in Part one!)
What’s At Stake For Your Family
Probate court proceedings can take months, and sometimes even years, to...
If you are a parent with children under the age of 18 at home, your number-one estate planning priority should be selecting and legally documenting both long and short-term guardians for your kids. Guardians are the people legally named to care for your children in the event something happens to you.
And if you’ve named guardians for your children in your will—even with the help of another lawyer—your kids could still be at risk of being taken into the care of strangers!
One of the most disturbing aspects of this situation is that you probably have no idea just how vulnerable your kids are, since this is a blind spot inherent to the estate plan of countless parents around the world. Even many lawyers aren’t fully aware of this issue—and that’s because most lawyers simply don’t understand what’s necessary for planning and ensuring the well-being and care of minor children.
Why? Well, most estate planning over...
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...