Young adult estate planning
Estate Planning

They’re Not Kids Anymore! Navigating Your Child’s Transition Into Adulthood

When your child turns 18, they’re legally considered an adult even though they have a lot more growing to do (though they may not think so!). Just like any other adult, their health and financial information is protected by privacy laws. But unlike any other adult, that’s still your child and you want to be there to support them in a crisis. Unless you’ve planned ahead you won’t be able to step in and support your child.

As an estate planning attorney, I often see families caught off guard when I tell them this. Like those families, you may also assume that as a parent, you’ll always have a say in your child’s medical and financial matters. But you don’t. Under the law, you have just as much access to their medical and financial information as you do for Joe down the street (which is none).

The good news is that with proper planning, you can help your newly-minted adult child navigate this transition and ensure you’re able to step in if something happens. Here I’ll share 3 strategies to help you and your child make the transition to their adulthood as easy as possible.

Strategy 1: Education

The first strategy for a successful transition to adulthood is education. At my firm, I start every client relationship with education. That’s because I believe that education equals empowerment, which supports you to make the right choices for yourself and your family. Young adults also need to be empowered through education. The more you can teach your child about their new financial and legal responsibilities, the more empowered they’ll be to make the right decisions.

If you haven’t already started talking with them about legal and financial matters, now is the time s. Start with a kind of budgeting we call “money mapping”. Explain the importance of tracking their income and expenses, setting financial goals, and investing wisely, both now and for the future. 

Help them understand the basics of banking, such as how to use checking and savings accounts, the benefits of maintaining a good credit score, and assist them in setting up their own bank account if they don’t already have one. Explain how to avoid overdrafts and the significance of keeping track of their balance. Introduce them to how to access credit, and use it responsibly. Explain how credit cards work, the importance of paying off balances in full each month, when it’s okay to carry a balance, and the long-term benefits of building a positive credit history.

And let’s not forget your child’s new tax obligations. Teach them how to file taxes, what documents they need, and how to understand their W-2 forms, or what it means to be a 1099. Explain the importance of keeping accurate records and how to navigate basic tax software.

Health care is another critical area where your child needs education. Let your child know that you can’t make medical decisions for them and you won’t have access to their health records anymore - unless they give it to you. I’ll cover which essential documents they need in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the importance of communication in helping them document their wishes properly.

Strategy 2: Encourage Communication

Adulthood often involves having difficult conversations (as if I’m telling you anything you don’t know!). Two of those conversations to have with your child have to do with their healthcare and financial decisions in the event of an emergency. 

First off, I want to say that even thinking about your child being in an emergency medical situation is hard to think about, much less talk about. And it will probably be much harder for you than it will be for them. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. You can do this!

After you’ve breathed your way to calm, have an open conversation about what your child would want to happen in various medical scenarios. If they became incapacitated, who would they want to make decisions on their behalf? Both parents or one of you first, then the other? Or do they want anyone else involved in the medical decisions, if they cannot make them on their own. Be open to the possibilities that they have other people in their life that they may want to include, and be glad they are telling you about it, if that’s the case.

Do they know what a ventilator is and whether they’d want one if it became an issue? What about a feeding or hydration tube? And what about resuscitation? It’s necessary to talk about these things so your child’s wishes are honored. Who would they want to have access to them, in case of an accident or an illness? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can help your child create a health care directive and medical power of attorney.

Have the same conversations about finances. Do you know which and how many financial accounts they have? If they’re in college, how will you access their account to stop tuition payments or housing payments if necessary? Will you be able to access their checking account if bills need to be paid? Your child may be reluctant to discuss these matters with you, but assure them you have no intent to violate their autonomy. You simply want to be there for them, if needed.

Strategy 3: Legal Planning

Once you and your child have had these difficult conversations, emphasize the need to get a legal plan in place so their wishes are documented and honored. At the least, your adult child’s legal plan should include the following documents:

Health Care Proxy and Advance Directive. A health care proxy grants someone, usually you, the authority to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf if they cannot. An Advance Directive complements this by outlining their medical treatment preferences in various scenarios, ensuring their wishes are respected even when they can’t voice them.

HIPAA Authorization. The HIPAA Authorization is equally important. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is designed to protect patient privacy, but it can also prevent you from accessing your child’s medical information without their explicit permission. By signing a HIPAA Authorization, your child can ensure that you can speak with doctors and receive updates on their condition.

Living Will. A Living Will is another important document to consider. This outlines your child’s wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as whether they want to receive life-sustaining treatments. Having these preferences documented can provide clarity and guidance during difficult times, ensuring that their wishes are honored.

Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney allows your adult child to appoint someone (again, usually you) to manage their financial affairs if they are unable to do so. This can include everything from paying bills to managing bank accounts and handling investments. Without this document, you might find it difficult to step in and help when needed.

It may also be important for your adult child to have a plan in place for what happens after death. If that’s the case, they need a will or trust. Reach out to me and I can educate you and your child on whether post-death planning is needed at this stage in your child’s life. 

Finally, life circumstances will change, so let your child know it’s important to review their documents regularly and update them as needed. Encourage your young adult to revisit their decisions periodically, especially if they experience significant life changes such as getting married, moving to a new state, or starting a new job. At my firm, constant contact is part of our process so our clients never have to remember on their own to update their plan. We do the remembering for you.

Your Next Step

Now that you are armed with 3 strategies for navigating your child’s transition into adulthood, your next step is to book an appointment with our firm so we can support you to have these conversations, and to get your child’s legal plan in place.

Now, before you go thinking that you don’t need an attorney and can use a cheap online tool, or even AI, I encourage you to think about what’s at stake. Your child’s health and well-being. Your child’s growth. The opportunity to teach your child about how to prioritize the things that matter most. When I work with you, one of the best things I can do is to get to know your children as they become adults. Ideally, it will be me (or my firm) that they’ll turn to for guidance throughout their lifetime, and to be there for them, when you can’t be. No cheap legal plan can do that.

The Support You and Your Child Need

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we know that navigating the transition to adulthood can be challenging, both for you and your child. Understanding the legal changes that come with turning 18 and using the 3 legal documents (and the conversations that go with them) in this article can help you provide the support and guidance your child needs. But you don’t need to navigate this transition alone. We can educate you and your child about their new legal responsibilities, support you to have the hard conversations, and help your child put a legal plan in place.

Contact us to learn how our Life & Legacy Planning process supports your family to make the very best decisions about the things that matter most. Click here to schedule a 15-minute conversation.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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Estate planning for dads
Estate Planning

Father Knows Best: Avoiding Common Estate Planning Pitfalls

If you’re a father, you've always strived to provide the best for your family, ensuring their well-being and securing their future. However, even the most well-intentioned plans can falter if you overlook the complexities of estate planning. So this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate all of you dads and explore some common pitfalls that fathers often encounter, then offer practical strategies to navigate them successfully.

Heads up before we dive in; I’ll provide some stories below that illustrate what happens when a dad hasn’t created an estate plan or hasn’t updated it over time. The names of the people below are made up, but the scenarios I’ll describe are common.

Pitfall No. 1: Procrastination

If you’re a father, the weight of responsibility for your family's well-being often rests heavily on your shoulders. However, even the most well-intentioned plans can fail if you overlook the complexities of estate planning. One of the most significant pitfalls is procrastination, or postponing the process under the assumption that you have ample time or that your assets are currently too modest to warrant formal planning. But the truth is that estate planning is crucial for individuals of all ages and asset levels! Unexpected events can occur at any time, leaving your loved ones in a bad situation if you haven't properly documented your wishes.

Take for example, John, a 45-year-old father of three, who put off creating a will, thinking he had decades ahead of him. You can’t really blame him, can you? Many of us are in the same boat. However, he passed away tragically and unexpectedly, leaving his family to deal with his affairs in the court process called probate. The probate process was lengthy, and his assets were frozen and unavailable for his kids until the court process played out. In addition, probate drained his assets, so there wasn’t as much to leave his kids in the end.

I doubt this is what John would have wanted.

So dads, to avoid the procrastination trap, it's essential to approach estate planning with a sense of urgency. Start the process as soon as possible, and review your plan regularly to ensure it remains aligned with your evolving circumstances and family dynamics (keep reading for more information on how I can help!).

Pitfall No. 2: Failing to Update Your Plan Over Time

This brings us to another pitfall: failing to update your plan after significant life events, such as marriages, divorces, births, or deaths. Life is inherently dynamic, and your estate plan should reflect those changes. Your plan should reflect your life as closely as possible, otherwise it could become ineffective or even invalid. And if that happens, you end up like John, even if you already have an estate plan.

Updating your estate plan over time is crucial. So make a habit of reviewing your plan at least every three years, preferably annually, or whenever a major life event occurs. When you work with me, I will help you ensure your plan accurately reflects your current wishes and aligns with any changes in state or federal laws.

Pitfall No. 3: Not Communicating With Loved Ones

Contrary to common belief, estate planning is not solely about legal documents, such as a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney. Documents are merely the byproduct of good estate planning. The real power of estate planning is in having open and honest communication with your loved ones. However, many fathers make the mistake of keeping their estate plans a closely guarded secret, leaving their families in the dark about their intentions and wishes. This lack of transparency can breed misunderstandings, conflicts, and resentments that can undermine the effectiveness of your plan and strain family relationships.

Let’s look at David’s story for a greater understanding. David, a successful business owner and loving father, always assumed his oldest son would take over the family business after his passing. So David’s estate plan included a provision wherein his oldest son inherited the business. When David died, however, his son revealed that he had different career aspirations and didn’t want to run the business. This led to family conflict - because David didn’t have a “Plan B” in his estate plan.

As a result, the family had to go to probate court, spending lots of time, energy, attention, and money, to get the business transferred to the one family member who wanted to run the business. Had David discussed his wishes openly, the family could have addressed their concerns together and arrived at a mutually agreeable solution that would have saved them the unnecessary hassle of probate court.

So what can you learn from David’s story? Share your wishes with your family members, explain your reasoning, and address any concerns they may have. This open dialogue can foster a deeper understanding and strengthen the bond between you and your loved ones. It also allows your loved ones to provide valuable insights and perspectives that can help refine and improve your plan. What a loving gift to give your family!

Pitfall No. 4: Not Working With a Professional 

The last pitfall I’ll address is going at it alone, or doing your plan cheaply online. As I pointed out above, estate planning is not just about creating a few documents and putting them away on a shelf until something happens. There’s much more to it.

Instead, work closely with an estate planning firm like ours, who can help you craft a plan that fits your unique family dynamics, wishes and assets, as well as keep in touch over time to ensure your plan is updated and works when you need it to. At my firm, we support you with all this and more, including helping you structure your plan in a tax-efficient manner, minimizing the impact of taxes on your assets and ensuring your loved ones receive the maximum benefit from your estate.

I also help you address any unique circumstances within your family, such as a family business, a child with special needs or a family member with addiction issues, ensuring that your plan is tailored to meet the specific needs of your loved ones.

So dads, after reading this, I hope it’s clear that estate planning is a profound expression of your love and responsibility as a father. By taking action now, you can navigate the pitfalls and create a lasting legacy that transcends your lifetime. Remember, your knowledge and attention to detail today can shape the future of your loved ones for generations to come.

How We Support You to Avoid These Common Pitfalls

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we understand that protecting your family goes far beyond just legal documentation. Our mission is to empower you to enshrine your hopes, values, and profound love for your children into a comprehensive plan that preserves your family's integrity for generations to come. We take the time to truly understand what family means to you—the struggles you overcame, the values you hold dear, the future you envision. And then we help you craft a tailored estate plan that meets your needs and stays updated over time.

So this Father’s Day, give yourself and your children the greatest gift: your love. Book a call with our office to learn how we can support you, and by extension, your entire family. Simply click on this scheduling link.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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LGBTQ parent
Estate Planning

Protecting Your LGBTQIA+ Family: A Pride Month Guide to Estate Planning for Non-Biological Parents

As an LGBTQIA+ non-biological parent, June's arrival sparks a flurry of Pride celebrations reminding you of the remarkable progress the community has made, while also shining a light on the ongoing fight for full equality. One area where you may still face unique legal hurdles is in ensuring your parental rights are properly protected, if you are a non-biological parent. Marriage may not be enough, but marriage in conjunction with estate planning gives you the maximum peace of mind.

This Pride Month, take the time to safeguard your family's future by putting the proper legal protections in place for yourself and the people you love. You worked hard to build this life —don't let lack of planning put it all at risk. In this article, I’ll address some key actions to take so you’re empowered to advocate for your rights as an LGBTQIA+ non-biological parent.

Establish Legal Parentage

As a non-biological parent, your first priority is to ensure you are recognized as the legal parent of your child or children. This may seem like a given, but the laws around legal parentage can vary significantly between states and get tricky for LGBTQIA+ families.

For example, imagine your partner gives birth to a child through donor insemination, and you are not the biological parent. In many states, you would not automatically be considered a legal parent to that child—even if you're married. The same applies to same-gender couples who have a child through surrogacy or adopt a child.

Without taking additional steps like a second-parent adoption or other legal processes, you could face an uphill battle asserting your parental rights and decision-making authority about the child's care, education, and other crucial matters. This is the case even if you are co-parenting a child with your partner or spouse who is the biological parent of the child. It may sound extreme, but there are cases of non-legal LGBTQIA+ parents being denied the ability to make medical decisions for their own child or facing obstacles traveling across state lines together.

Build your family’s foundation on a rock, not sand. No matter how your child came into your lives, be sure to take the proper legal steps to ensure you have equal legal standing and rights as a parent, from day one.

Get Vital Legal Documents in Place

Beyond solidifying legal parentage, you need other legal documents in place to protect your role as a non-biological parent:

Medical Consent Forms. These forms explicitly authorize you to make medical decisions for your children in any situation. Without them, a hospital could potentially deny you the ability to consent to a life-saving procedure, if your legal status is called into question.

Parenting Agreement. If you're not legally married to your co-parent, a formal parenting agreement is absolutely critical. This document outlines both party's intentions, roles, responsibilities, and legal rights/expectations for raising the child. It can dictate factors like living arrangements, decision-making powers, financial obligations and more.

Without this agreement, a bitter break-up or disagreement could put your relationship with your child in legal jeopardy, especially if there isn’t an obvious framework for who has custodial rights. A thoroughly drafted parenting agreement acts as your concrete evidence of the intended family structure.

Wills and Guardianship. If the unthinkable happens and you (or your parenting partner) were to pass away, your children's guardianship could potentially get caught up in legal battles with blood relatives who may not respect your family situation. The same goes for an unmarried co-parenting situation where your child's other parent may not have automatic guardianship rights. Anytime you go to court, the potential for conflict increases exponentially. So do expenses. It’s always best to avoid the court process if at all possible (and here, it’s possible!).

This makes it absolutely imperative to explicitly document your choice of legal guardians for your children in case you are incapacitated or pass away. A Kid’s Protection Plan, where you nominate guardians for your children, exclude anyone you wouldn’t want, say what happens if they’re with a babysitter and you’re in an unforeseeable accident, prevents family you’d never want raising them from doing so, and ensures they’re never taken into the care of strangers, can not only help prevent ugly custody battles, but also make sure your kids are provided the love and stability they deserve.

As an LGBTQIA+ parents, these provisions are the way to reinforce your intentions and values about who should care for your children in keeping with the family structure you created. Don't leave it up to a judge's interpretation, who knows nothing about you and your children. Think about it: a judge is a complete stranger. Do you really want a complete stranger deciding what happens to your kids if you were no longer here? Of course not! So take action while you can, and if you are the non-biological parent in relationship with the biological parent, and without clear legal parentage, it’s even more critical - make sure your child’s biological parent has a Kids Protection Plan in place.

Build a Support System

Beyond legal documentation, it's just as important to fortify your family with trusted allies and support networks who can advocate for your rights if they are ever challenged.

Look into connecting with local or national LGBTQIA+ family organizations and online communities where you can share advice and learn from others facing similar barriers. Groups like COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere) provide helpful resources.

You should also identify LGBTQIA+ friendly legal advisors, who will take a heart-centered approach to estate planning, and who really, really cares about your family. As a Personal Family Lawyer®, our firm will set you up with solid legal protections, and also be there for you and your family, anytime you need legal support in the future.

At the end of the day, the sad reality is that despite how far LGBTQIA+ rights have come, you may still face prejudiced individuals or institutions that try to undermine the legal protections you put in place. Having a solid support system in your corner could make all the difference.

Leave a Legacy, Not a Mess

As an LGBTQIA+ parent, you may have had to overcome many hurdles simply to become a parent to your child or children. Now it's time to ensure you can leave the lasting legacy you envision for them.

With a comprehensive estate plan that works when you and your loved ones need it to, you can capture the immense love, sacrifice and life lessons that went into creating and nurturing your family unit. You can memorialize the values, heritage and core principles you hope to impart on your children and can outline cherished ceremonial traditions you want carried on at important milestones.

As a Personal Family Lawyer, we don’t just draft estate planning documents for you, but with our Life & Legacy Planning process, we ensure we create a plan that works for you when your family needs it, and that plan is maintained and updated over time. As a result, nothing that matters is lost, and you won’t leave a mess for the people you love.

On top of that, we don’t just ensure you pass on your money, but the intangible assets that truly matter to the people you love. During our Life & Legacy Planning process, we’ll record you speaking about what matters most for the people you love, creating a family heirloom that will be passed on for generations.

Get Support for the Journey

Even in 2024, the road to equality and respect is an ongoing battle for LGBTQIA+ parents and families. But you don't have to figure it out alone. This Pride Month, connect with a Personal Family Lawyer who can empower you to protect your family structure and parental rights through comprehensive estate planning.

Estate planning is not just about legal formalities, but ensuring your lifetime of efforts to create your family leaves a proud, enduring legacy for generations to come. With the proper guidance, you can celebrate future Pride events confident your journey won't be derailed by preventable legal oversights. The peace of mind of knowing you've shored up your family's legal standing is one of the greatest acts of love you can provide. It’s not only a gift of love for your children, but a gift of love to yourself.

How We Support You to Protect Your Family

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we understand that protecting your family goes far beyond just legal documentation. Our mission is to empower you to enshrine your hopes, values and profound love for your children into a comprehensive plan that preserves your family's integrity for generations to come. We take the time to truly understand what family unity means to you—the struggles you overcame, the values you hold dear, the future you envision. And then we help you craft a tailored estate plan that meets your needs.

This Pride Month, give yourself and your children the greatest gift: a lasting celebration of your family's identity, equality and unbreakable bonds.

Schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office to learn more.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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Estate Planning
Estate Planning

Memorial Day Reflections: Crafting Your Lasting Legacy With Estate Planning

Memorial Day brings with it an opportunity to reflect on the concepts of mortality, remembrance, and legacy. As we remember the brave men and women who lost their lives serving in the military, may this day also inspire you to think about the legacy you wish to leave behind.

But, first, what is a legacy, really? “Legacy” is often misunderstood and so is estate planning. Legacy and estate planning are often perceived as “only for the wealthy” and/or “philanthropic”. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Legacy isn’t just about money or wealth. As my mentor Ali Katz says: “Legacy is the choices you make now, the actions you take now, the way of being you are now, and the ripple of impact beyond your lifetime.”

Legacy includes capturing your life stories, passing on your values, and ensuring your loved ones have a record of the essence of what matters to you. These are the things you leave behind that mean the most to your loved ones. Money can’t even compare. Thinking of it this way, it’s easy to see that every human has a legacy to create and leave behind, including you! 

Estate planning, on the other hand, is something many people think they understand, but really don’t. It isn’t just about getting your Will done, or documenting what your end-of-life health care wishes are. Estate planning, like legacy, encompasses much more. It’s not about getting some documents signed. Estate planning is the vehicle that allows you to leave a legacy. 

So let’s dive in for more understanding on what “legacy” really means and how you can secure your legacy for the benefit of your loved ones.

Understanding What Legacy Truly Is

Legacy, at its core, is about connecting the generations, and Life & Legacy Planning is the way to do it. Here’s an example. Consider a teacher who has spent her career fostering curiosity and resilience in her students. She may not have millions of dollars to give away, but she can use her estate plan to leave her personal library to a local school. She may even set up a small scholarship fund in her estate plan so she can continue supporting education long after she’s gone. And, if she has children or close friends she cooks for regularly, she may leave a book full of her recipes they all love.

Her legacy then becomes not just about the resources she left behind, but about inspiring future generations to value learning and perseverance, and nourishment. Similarly, your estate plan can be crafted to perpetuate the principles you deem most important, making your influence felt well into the future.

So now, take a minute to reflect. What principles are most important to you? How do you want to use them to connect your generation to the next?

Estate Planning as a Form of Love

In emphasizing the value of estate planning as the vehicle that allows you to leave a legacy, know that estate planning should be tailored for each person, each person’s family dynamics, and each person’s values. No two people are the same, no two families are the same, and therefore, no two estate plans should be the same. This personal touch transforms estate planning from a mundane task, that most people put off because they don’t see the value, into a powerful act of love.

Proper and customized estate planning can also alleviate the potential for family conflict, which oftentimes results in irretrievably broken family relationships. But when you use estate planning as a vehicle for securing your legacy, it has the power to preserve these relationships and uphold family harmony. Estate planning is then transformed into an enduring gesture of care and love.

Consider as an example a devoted husband and father who deeply valued his family's annual summer retreats to a beloved lakeside cabin. Understanding the special place the cabin held in his and his family’s hearts, he specifically detailed in his Will his wish for the property to remain in the family, passing down to his children and grandchildren.

He also set up a small fund to cover the cabin's upkeep, ensuring that his family would continue to enjoy it without financial burden. In doing so, this loving husband and father not only preserved a cherished family tradition but also created a physical space for remembrance and togetherness, allowing future generations to share in the joy and serenity he found there. This thoughtful element of his estate plan demonstrates how such preparations are acts of love, weaving his memory and values into the fabric of his family’s future.

Take another minute to reflect. How would you craft your own legacy into a plan of action?

Practical Steps to Create Your Legacy

Taking the first step in estate planning can feel daunting, but when you frame it as an act of love and legacy preservation, it becomes a deeply meaningful process. Start by identifying what matters most to you. This could be family traditions, a commitment to charity, a passion for art, or anything else that defines your personal story and values. Begin by listing these priorities and considering how they can be integrated into your estate plan.

Next, consult with a Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) who understands the intersection of legacy and estate planning through a special process called Life & Legacy Planning. A PFL will help you get clear on your values and goals, then together, you’ll create a customized plan that fits you and honors the legacy you wish to leave behind. For instance, if you, like the devoted father in the example above, have a cherished family property, a PFL can advise you on how to set up a trust to manage that property and stipulate how it should be maintained and used by future generations.

A PFL will also record a Life & Legacy Interview that your family will cherish for years. The Interview allows you to express your love, hopes, and reasons behind your decisions and is a comforting and clarifying piece for your loved ones, ensuring they understand your intentions and feel your presence in the provisions you’ve made. You can even record messages to send to beneficiaries that provide stories and details about a special possession or heirloom and why you chose to give it to them. 

By taking these steps, you’re not just planning for the future; you’re crafting a legacy that carries your values and love forward, ensuring that your impact on the world persists and that your memory continues to serve as a source of inspiration and unity for those you hold dear.

Memorial Day Is an Opportunity for Action

This Memorial Day, as you reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their all (and what a legacy that is!), take action to get your estate plan in place. Remember, estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it is for everyone. It's about making your mark, much like the soldiers we honor, whose legacies are remembered for generations.

So let this Memorial Day be the catalyst for you to start or update your estate plan. In doing so, you honor your life and ensure connection among the generations. Just as we come together as a nation to remember, let’s also take steps to put our love into action.

How We Can Help You Take Action Today

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we don't merely dispense legal counsel; we empower you to reflect on how you want to be remembered and how you want to pass on the values you hold dear. We take the time to fully understand what’s important to you, and then together, we’ll craft a thoughtful and holistic plan that results in the greatest gift you can leave your loved ones: your love.

To learn more about how we approach estate planning as the intersection of love and legacy, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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retirement
Estate Planning

10 Steps to Take Now to Secure a Comfortable Retirement: Part 2

Welcome back to our discussion on securing a comfortable retirement! In the first part of this series, we explored essential steps including estate planning, preparing for long-term care, and passing on your legacy. As we continue with the second part of our series, we'll delve into additional areas that are crucial for ensuring your golden years are not only financially stable but also enriched with independence, health, and continued personal growth. So let's pick up where we left off.

Step 6: Consider Your Housing Needs

Why It’s Important: Adapting your living environment to meet your changing mobility and health needs can enhance your independence and quality of life (and who doesn’t want that?!). As physical abilities change with age, a home that accommodates these changes can help maintain a higher level of independence, reduce the risk of accidents, and potentially delay or avoid the need for an assisted living facility. Moreover, comfortable and accessible living conditions contribute significantly to happiness and well-being in your later years.

Practical Steps:

Assess Home Accessibility: Evaluate your home for potential mobility issues and consider modifications like ramps, wider doorways, or bathroom grab bars.

Explore Senior-Friendly Housing Options: If extensive modifications are too costly or impractical, consider moving to a senior-friendly community that offers additional amenities and services.

Find a Personal Family Lawyer in Your Community Who Offers Elder Care Planning. A Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) who offers elder care planning can help you navigate your options and create a plan that preserves your assets for your loved ones, rather than draining them for housing and health care costs. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL who offers elder care planning and make an appointment on their website. Many PFLs have virtual offices for your convenience, so if there isn’t a PFL listed in your locality, choose the closest one.

Step 7: Embrace Technology for Independence

Why It’s Important: Modern technology can significantly improve the convenience and safety of daily life for seniors. Technologies that assist with daily tasks can extend independence, reduce caregiver burden, and enhance your overall quality of life. Additionally, health-monitoring technologies can alert caregivers and medical professionals to potential health issues before they become severe, ensuring timely medical intervention.

Practical Steps:

Consult with a PFL and Join Their PFL FamilyCare Program. A PFL who has a FamilyCare Program in place has, as one of the benefits of membership, a subscription to a secure, online system that houses your important legal and health care documents so they’re immediately available to doctors, hospitals, and caregivers. This is really important! Most people who have estate plans with health care documents have them stored on a shelf and aren’t accessible when they need them. That’s no good in the event of an emergency. But a PFL has your back.

Health Monitoring Technologies: Employ devices that can monitor vital signs and remind you to take medications. Your doctor may be able to help with this.

Consider Using Smart Home Devices: You can automate lighting, heating, and security to manage your home environment easily. If you aren’t technologically savvy, ask a younger family member to help. Gen Z can figure that out in a heartbeat!

Step 8: Stay Active and Engaged

Why It’s Important: Active engagement in physical, social, and mental activities can significantly enhance your quality of life and health in retirement. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps prevent common age-related health problems, improves mental health, and provides valuable social interactions that can combat loneliness and depression. When you engage in a variety of activities you also keep your mind sharp and gain a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Practical Steps:

Join Community Groups or Clubs: Engage in activities that match your interests, such as book clubs, gardening, or volunteering. If you’re active on Facebook, you can find groups there that meet in your local community. Joining online groups counts too!

Regular Exercise: Participate in senior-friendly exercise programs to maintain health and mobility.

Pursue New Learning Opportunities: Consider taking classes at local community colleges or online to keep your mind sharp and learn new skills.

Step 9: Develop a Sustainable Retirement Budget

Why It’s Important: A well-planned budget is crucial to ensure that your savings last throughout your retirement years. A sustainable budget helps you manage your finances effectively, avoiding overspending and ensuring that you have funds available for unexpected expenses. A good budgeting practice can also help you maintain a comfortable lifestyle while safeguarding against market volatility and economic downturns.

Practical Steps:

Identify Essential vs. Non-Essential Expenses: Consider making adjustments to your spending habits if needed to ensure you can cover necessary costs while still enjoying your retirement.

Plan for Unexpected Costs: Include a buffer in your budget for unforeseen expenses to avoid financial strain.

Consult with a PFL. A PFL, as part of their unique PFL Life & Legacy Planning process, will help you get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before. Together, you’ll create a complete asset inventory (we call it a “personal resource map”, so you know exactly what you have and how long it will last. The inventory also ensures that your loved ones will be able to find your assets after you’re gone, so nothing is lost to the government. Check out your State’s Department of Unclaimed Property website and prepare to be shocked to see how much money has been lost! Traditional estate planning attorneys will not help you, but a PFL includes the inventory as part of every estate plan.

Step 10: Review and Adjust Your Estate Plan Regularly

Why It’s Important: Life changes, and so should your estate plan to ensure it continues to meet your evolving needs and circumstances. Regular reviews ensure your plan works when you and your family need it to, keeping them out of court and conflict after you’re gone. If your estate plan is current with the ever-changing estate and tax laws, chances are it will work and your wishes will be honored if you become incapacitated or when you die.

Practical Steps:

Work With a PFL and Join Their PFL FamilyCare Program. All PFLs have, as part of the Life & Legacy Planning process, a built-in cadence of reviewing your plan every 3 years at no charge. However, if your PFL has a FamilyCare Program in place, join and you’ll receive an annual review at no cost. You’ll also receive membership benefits that include special, members-only pricing for updates to your plan.

Regular Financial Reviews: As part of the PFL FamilyCare program, your PFL will also review your asset inventory annually so that it stays up to date. This ensures your family will receive your assets, not the government. If your PFL does not have a FamilyCare Program yet, they will review your asset inventory every 3 years with you.

And now we’ve come to the end of our 2-part series on how to enjoy your retirement with ease and peace of mind. I hope you’ve found this information helpful and inspired you to take action right away because what matters most to me is your ability to live a fulfilling life and give your loved ones a legacy they will treasure.

We Can Help Secure Comfort in Your Retirement

At our firm, we do more than just assist with your immediate retirement planning needs; we ensure that your future is as vibrant and secure as possible. The intricacies of adapting your living space, integrating modern technology for better health and independence, staying socially and physically active, and managing your finances can make retirement seem overwhelming. As your Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we simplify these aspects and tailor solutions to fit your lifestyle and aspirations, all within your time and budget.

If you want to explore how we can help you develop a retirement plan that not only safeguards your finances but also enriches your daily life, we encourage you to book a complimentary 15-minute call with us. Together, let's make your retirement years as fulfilling and carefree as possible.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

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retirement
Estate Planning

10 Steps to Take Now to Secure a Comfortable Retirement: Part 1

Retirement is more than just an end to the working years; it's an exciting new phase of life that requires thoughtful preparation and strategic planning. Since May is Older Americans Awareness Month, it's the perfect opportunity to explore 10 steps you can take now to ensure a comfortable and fulfilling retirement. In this article, we’ll discuss the first 5 steps, why they’re important, and how to implement them. Next week, we’ll continue with the remaining 5 steps. 

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Step 1: Plan for the Transfer of Your Assets

Why It’s Important: Effective estate planning ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, potentially reduces estate taxes, and can prevent a lot of legal complications for your heirs. Proper estate planning also helps to avoid the public, often lengthy and costly process of probate, ensuring that your heirs have quicker access to the assets you leave behind. Moreover, clear directives in estate planning can prevent family disputes (sometimes resulting in irretrievably broken relationships) and ensure that your specific instructions are followed, preserving your legacy exactly as you intend.

Practical Steps: Consult with a Personal Family Lawyer. A Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) always starts the client relationship with education about your options that align with your specific family dynamics, assets and wishes. From there, your PFL will help you create a tailored Life & Legacy plan that works when you and your family need it to, keeping you and them out of court and conflict. Importantly, a PFL can also help you avoid unnecessary taxes before and during retirement (and who doesn’t want that?).

Life Insurance: Having adequate coverage to handle any debts and funeral expenses can provide a financial cushion for those who depend on you. As part of the PFL Life & Legacy Planning process, your PFL can educate you about how much insurance you need and how to pass the funds to the people you want, while avoiding unnecessary taxes and ensuring the funds are available as soon as possible.

Find a PFL in Your Community. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL and make an appointment for a 15-minute consult call on their website. Many PFLs have virtual offices for your convenience, so if there isn’t a PFL listed in your locality, choose the closest one.

Step 2: Prepare for Long-Term Care Expenses

Why It’s Important: As we continue to live longer, so does the probability of needing some form of long-term care. These services, whether in-home care, assisted living, or nursing facilities, can be costly and are not typically covered by Medicare. Without proper planning, the high costs of long-term care can quickly deplete retirement savings, potentially leaving less financial support for spouses or other family members. Furthermore, preemptive financial planning can significantly ease the emotional and logistical challenges of arranging for long-term care.

Practical Steps:

Research Long-Term Care Insurance: Investigate different policies early, ideally in your 50s or early 60s, before premiums rise significantly. Compare benefits, coverage limits, and the reputation of insurance providers.

Learn About Government Programs: Understand what Medicare covers and explore Medicaid eligibility for long-term care, which varies by state but generally requires spending down your assets.

Find a PFL in Your Community Who Offers Elder Care Planning. Preparing for long-term care can be tricky because the laws are quite complicated. However, a PFL who offers elder care planning can help you navigate your options and create a plan that preserves your assets for your loved ones, rather than draining them for health care costs. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL who offers elder care planning and make an appointment on their website.

Step 3: Pass on Generational Wealth

Why It’s Important: By ensuring that wealth passes effectively to future generations, you can secure their financial future and teach them how to manage and grow that wealth responsibly. Furthermore, generational wealth can enhance the lives of future family members and their communities by providing educational opportunities, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting philanthropic efforts. It also instills a sense of responsibility and stewardship, which are crucial for maintaining family wealth over generations.

Practical Steps:

Educational Trusts: A PFL can help you set up trusts that release funds for your children or grandchildren based on milestones such as graduation from college. These trusts also have tax benefits, and a PFL can educate you about how they work.

Create a Family Investment Plan: Include younger family members in discussions about family investments to educate them about financial principles.

Find a PFL in Your Community. A PFL can not only help you create an educational trust but also asset protection trusts so you can create generational wealth for your family. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL and make an appointment on their website. Keep in mind that many PFLs have virtual offices for your convenience, so if there isn’t a PFL listed in your locality, choose the closest one.

Step 4: Leave a Legacy

Why It’s Important: What your family will treasure most is not the financial gifts you leave, but your life lessons, values, and memories that define your family heritage. A well-planned legacy can inspire and guide future generations, providing them with a sense of identity and belonging to a greater family story. You can ensure that your philosophical and ethical beliefs continue to influence even when you're no longer present, helping to shape the character and choices of your descendants.

Practical Steps:

Record Life & Legacy Interview with a PFL: All PFLs include an interview as an important part of their unique Life & Legacy Planning process. The interview ensures your family has a piece of their family history they can hold onto long after you’re gone. They’ll also treasure being able to see you and hearing your voice whenever they want.

Step 5: Cultivate and Share Family Values and History

Why It’s Important: Continuing the idea of leaving a legacy, know that strengthening family bonds through shared history and values helps maintain a sense of continuity across generations. This cultural and historical continuity enhances their psychological resilience and emotional well-being. Additionally, a well-documented family history can serve as a valuable asset for educational and genealogical purposes, enriching the lives of current and future generations. Here are some steps you can take outside of recording a Life & Legacy Interview with a PFL.

Practical Steps:

Create a Family Archive: Gather photos, letters and important documents in a digital format to ensure preservation and easy sharing. Enlist the help of a younger family member (Gen Z, anyone?) if you need to. Also consider writing down recipes, stories, and holiday traditions that can be passed down as family legacies.

Compile Family Histories: Write or record stories about family elders, significant events, and the origins of family traditions. Note that writing these down the “old school” way, i.e., pen and paper, will be meaningful to younger generations. They’ll love having a piece of paper with your handwriting on it.

Host Family Reunions: Regular gatherings not only help reinforce family bonds but also allow older generations to impart wisdom and traditions firsthand.

So whether you're a few years away or are about to retire now, it’s never too early (or too late!) to start planning. Be sure to check back next week for even more steps you can take to ensure peace of mind when the time comes.

Let Us Help Secure Comfort in Your Retirement

At our firm, we do more than just guide you through estate planning; we provide you with peace of mind, knowing you are free to enjoy retirement. However, understanding the complexities of retirement—from estate planning to ensuring long-term care and preserving generational wealth—can be daunting. That's why, as your heart-centered Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we streamline the process, making it as easy on you as possible.

If you're interested in learning more about how to create a Life & Legacy Plan that secures your comfort in retirement, we invite you to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office. Let us help you live your best life, every step of the way.

This article is a service of a Personal Family Lawyer® Firm. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Life & Legacy Planning Session™.

The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you are seeking legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained on your own separate from this educational material.

Proper estate planning can keep your family out of conflict, out of court, and out of the public eye. If you’re ready to create a comprehensive estate plan, contact us to schedule your Planning Session. Even if you already have a plan in place, we will review it and help you bring it up to date to avoid heartache for your family. Schedule online today.

Read More