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What We're Following Today March 4, 2020

How to Make Sure Your Children Are Taken Care Of

Today’s focus is primarily around our legal pillar - things that affect us at different stages of our lives. This post by Claire Zulkey in the NY Times deals with the importance of making sure you have guardianship set up for your children. We all intellectually know the importance of a will, and the importance of having a plan for our kids, but many of us avoid getting the help we need to set things up officially in the eyes of the law.

No one wants to admit that death can happen, but the fact is that it is a VERY real possibility. Anything can happen today or tomorrow, but if we avoid that possibility we are potentially opening up some major headaches, or worse, problems with the care of our children. We are about to have our third child - which changes what our current estate plan calls out. That means we need to re-address the way we approach where our kids would end up in the event that my wife and I both pass away.

Asking someone to take on 2 kids is one thing, but how about 3, especially if they are starting their own family?

This article is a GREAT resource to look to when planning out the future care of your children. It calls out real life examples in a way that hits the importance home.

Family Feud

This piece from 2015 in Forbes uses 6 stories of problematic estate planning that impacted families. If you are like me, learning is easier when there is a story behind it. While 5 years old, the stories are still relevant and illustrate the importance of confronting our mortality when we still have our minds and wits about us.

Kristin Appenbrink notes that many Americans don’t have wills and are not prepared for if/when they move onto our next life. She calls out 6 stories that frankly call out the worst characteristics in us as humans…some of these could be avoided through better planning, but others may indeed simply come about because greed and human emotions bring out the worst in us.

The sad thing is, that while most people are likely logical and fair, we still have to recognize that we are indeed corruptible creatures. When “things” come into the picture, the opportunity for us to choose to act based on self interest exists. Good estate planning can help to take care of that up front so that interpersonal and interfamily dynamics are kept as healthy as possible…

Do It Yourself - Wills

Technology - what an amazing resource to make our lives easier and better. Also, it can make the cost of doing things like wills and estate planning much more affordable. Is this the case with estate planning and wills?

Well…something is likely better than “nothing”, but the more I use these services, the more I start to see how they can create more problems than what they are intended to solve. Setting up an LLC? Do it online, it’s easy…but were all the forms submitted the way they are supposed to? Were all the right state forms submitted? What about later on, is there something you need to know about the way your business was set up and how it operates in your state??? The truth is that states and the federal government don’t function under “easy” to navigate systems.

Wills fall into this as well. Perhaps if you don’t have much to pass on, and you don’t have many family members, then an online standard form might very well be OK. If you use a lawyer, you will pay more up front, but you may lose less in the end because they know the REAL questions to ask you about your current situation AND your needs for the future. Every situation is incredibly unique, and the complexity can increase very quickly depending on those situations…trust spouses of your children or siblings? Divorces possible? Children with special needs? The fact is, there are lots of things that warrant a professional’s eyes rather than a “simple” self-service model.

Read this article also in Forbes to learn more about the reasons why an online will might not be the best option for you…

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