Did your attorney ask you these three things before they signed you up?
Why? Who? What?
If not, your estate plan may not be the right plan for you, your family, your kids.
Wills, powers of attorney for finance and advance directives for health care and trusts work for you when you die or are critically injured/ill and cannot manage your own decisions (otherwise referred to as your incapacity). Its too late to change these critical documents when you die. It can be too late to change these estate planning documents when you are injured or ill and cannot manage your decisions.
So how can three simple questions help protect you? Protect your family? Let’s discuss why, who, what.
Every person even thinking of a will or trust has a different why. Many times it is a combinations of whys.
- Protect money for young kids
- Make sure your adult children do not argue over what is best for you when you age and need help
- Make sure you have it all planned on paper so your family doesn’t have the burden of wondering what you would have wanted
- Organize your life
- Ensure your family doesn’t have to take your Will through probate
- Make sure your choices are heard when it comes to who will care for your children if you cannot
- Avoid what you see happening to a friend or neighbor
These are examples of whys that I see daily. Why do you want a plan? Why now? Why did you pick up the phone and call our office to schedule an appointment?
Because when it comes down to it, this is really what I help people with: their why. I help people no longer worry about what THEIR why. I protect the money for kids. I make sure your choices are clear to minimize arguments amongst your family. Make sure your loved ones are not burdened with decisions that could have been made in advance. I make sure they understand what their family will need to know to help them during incapacity or after they pass away. I make sure their family avoids probate by having a trust. I make sure their choices are heard on who takes care of their minor children if they cannot. I make sure what happened to their friend or neighbor’s family doesn’t happen to theirs.
If I never asked you “what is your why?” … how can I help you?
Are you planning because you have young kids? Are you planning to not burden adult kids with decisions you can make in advance? Are you planning to protect yourself!
Who is it that you are doing the planning for? If it is children under age 18, you need a plan to contemplate that minors cannot directly manage money they inherit from a parent. If it is to protect yourself from being taken advantage of as you age, you need a plan where who you choose as a power of attorney is well thought out and the pros/cons discussed with a professional. Perhaps you do not have loved ones close by and wonder who can help if you need help.
If we do not know who, the plan may not work!
This is really about an inventory of what you have in your world. What assets (the things, the money, the property) that could potentially fall into your estate or pass to those of your choosing when you die. Or, more importantly, those assets someone may have to manage for you if you cannot while you are alive.
Knowing the what is really important and can be overlooked or dismissed during the process if you are not working with someone who appreciates ensuring your plan works for you when you need it most.
This is why we ask our clients for documents supporting the “what” in their lives. We want to know about the home, the bank accounts, the retirement accounts, the potential inheritance from parents and more importantly, are these things held jointly with someone else or held individually. If we don’t … again… the plan may not work for you when you need it most.
This is also why we work with other trusted professionals such as financial advisors, CPA’s and insurance professionals. We work as a team. As a team we help protect your who, give you peace of mind about your why and ensure your what is there for you and your family when needed.