Estate planning is not a one-size-fits-all exercise. It’s not even a one-size-fits-most.
This is how most people think estate planning goes:
You meet with an attorney. They take an inventory of your family and your stuff. They hand you a big pile of documents based upon your inventory. Then they send you the bill.
No no no no no no no. Your estate plan is about taking care of your loved ones when you pass away, or become disabled. It’s not about dividing up your stuff.
It’s about making sure you have the exact right plan for your family. Two different families can have the same list of people and stuff, but because they have different GOALS, the exercise will yield two very different estate plans.
Take, for example, two typical, everyday families: house, 2.6 kids, dog. You know the family I’m talking about. It might be yours. Might be the neighbors. The big, overriding goal for both families is to make sure their kids will be taken care of.
One family has a young set of grandparents who’ve been super involved in the grandkids’ lives. They live down the street. If the parents couldn’t, the grandparents could raise the kids and the kids wouldn’t have to change schools or leave the neighborhood. The family house will be transferred to the grandparents who will manage the sale. The estate will provide a stipend so the grandparents can retire earlier than expected and take care of the kids. The remaining assets are put into trust until 2030, at which point both kids will be given financial responsibility for their inheritance at the same time. (The grandparents will take the dog too, because she’s an important part of the family and the kids will need her, especially at this difficult time.)
Family #2 does NOT want Dad’s brother making a claim on their estate, nor raising the kids, despite the fact that he’s the closest relative. They’ve named their oldest’s godparents to act as guardians, because the parents have been best friends forever and all the kids are already like siblings. And the godparents agree it would be a good idea to move into the family home because it will accommodate the new, blended family. (For now. But this might change in six years when the kids are all in high school.) The breeder has agreed to take care of the dog, because the god-siblings are allergic. The sale of the guardians’ home will provide income to help raise the kids. Godmum is a financial planner, so she’ll manage and grow the estate until each kid turns 30. Dad’s 401K will be liquidated over time and provide some income to the brother, on the condition he moves back to the States from Tijuana.
Two families. Same goal. Yet the plans will clearly look very, very different.
You know all this is important stuff. You want to know your family will be taken care of. It starts with your goals. Solutions are step 2 of our Good Guardian Planning Process.
When we talk about your Good Guardian Plan, I drill down into details to suss out your goals. This is why I might ask you a whole bunch of questions that don’t seem to make sense. This is a key differentiator between a Good Guardian Attorney and other attorneys. We help you do what’s smart for YOUR family, not your neighbor’s.
Want to know more about what your plan might look like? Let’s hop on the phone and have a chat. CLICK HERE to get on my call schedule for a complimentary call.