Protecting Your Family Shouldn't Cost A Fortune!
Let’s face it: when the subject of estate planning comes up, many people tune out. They might think “I don’t have a lot of money or an ‘estate’ so estate planning doesn’t concern me”. Or, they might think “everything I have I want to leave to my spouse and kids so why would I bother writing it all down”. Some people may know they need an estate plan, but just haven’t gotten around to doing it yet. In addition, many people simply don’t want to think about difficult issues like death or incapacity, let alone plan for them. If this is you, don’t feel bad. You’re in the same boat as more than half of America. Unfortunately, the consequences of being in that boat aren’t pretty. When someone fails to make an estate plan, their family WILL suffer the consequences. Let’s look at some examples:
- Jane and John have two young children. While away on vacation Jane and John are in a horrible accident, killing both of them. Without a will, Jane and John have absolutely no say who they want to raise their children. Instead, the person(s) who will raise and care for their children will be selected by the court – probably not what Jane and John wanted. And, if there are multiple parties who wish to care for the children, everyone can expect a lengthy and expensive court battle. Certainly this is not a situation Jane or John ever wanted their children involved in. Had Jane and John made wills, they could have chosen guardians for their children and protected their children from a confusing, lengthy and often scary court process.
- When Cathy met Carl, Carl had two young children from his previous marriage. A few years into their marriage Carl was killed in a horrible accident. Cathy raised her step-children and loved them like they were her own. When Cathy passed away many years later, the court ordered that her entire estate pass to her brother who she hadn’t talked to in years. But what about her step kids? They got nothing. Since the Arizona laws of intestate succession do not provide for step-children, the court looked to Cathy’s closest living relative – her brother. If Cathy had made a will, she could have provided for the children that she loved.
- Danny is unmarried and has a brother and sister, Brad and Sally. One day Danny was riding his motorcycle when he was hit by an SUV. Once Danny was in the hospital his brother and sister started arguing about what type of medical treatment he should receive. Unfortunately, when family members start arguing about a patient’s care, doctors are hesitant to pursue any course of action out of fear of getting sued. Now, Brad and Sally will have to go to court and get a court order appointing one of them as Danny’s guardian, who can then make medical decisions for Danny. As with any court proceeding, Brad and Sally can expect a long and costly process. With a healthcare power of attorney, Danny could have chosen someone to make important healthcare decisions on his behalf and saved his brother and sister from fighting and going to court during a difficult time.
Sarah is very close with her mother, Sharon, who is in a nursing home. At the nursing home, Sharon falls ill and is rushed unconscious to the hospital. The nursing home calls Sarah to let her know her mother is in the hospital. When Sarah arrives at the hospital, hospital staff refuses to give Sarah any information about her mother stating that the HIPAA privacy laws forbid it. As a result, Sarah has no idea what is wrong with her mother or how to help her. Had Sarah’s mother Sharon had a healthcare power of attorney with a HIPAA authorization permitting Sarah to obtain Sharon’s medical information, Sarah wouldn’t be in the terrible position of knowing her mother is sick and not being able to care for her.
Barb and Bill are married. Bill is the breadwinner and keeps most of the couple’s money in a separate account. One morning, Bill is struck by a car on his morning bike ride. While Bill lays unconscious in the hospital, bills for his hospital stay start adding up, in addition to the regular household bills like the mortgage, electricity, etc. Since the couple’s money is in Bill’s separate account, Barb cannot access that money to pay the bills without a court order. Barb is forced to go to court and spend $3,000 – $5,000 to get a court order appointing her as Bill’s conservator, which allows her to deal with Bill’s assets. Had Bill made an estate plan with a financial power of attorney naming Barb as his agent, Barb could have accessed the funds in Bills’ account immediately and without having to go to court.
Nancy takes care of her elderly mother Margo. One day Nancy goes to check on Margo and discovers that Margo has had a stroke. At the hospital, the doctors inform Nancy that Margo is in a persistent vegetative state and won’t recover. The doctors are able to keep Margo alive with the use of breathing machines and feeding tubes. Since Margo never told Nancy how she felt about being kept alive by artificial means, Nancy is absolutely distraught trying to decide what her mother would have wanted. Had Margo made a living will, Nancy would never have had to make this decision herself since her mother’s wishes would have been clear.
As you can see, estate planning isn’t just about money. And it’s more than just “who gets your stuff”. It’s about family and taking care of your loved ones. No caring person wants to cause these kinds of problems for the people they love the most. Unfortunately, these are very real, common issues that arise when someone doesn’t have an estate plan.
Many people know they need an estate plan but just haven’t done it yet. Procrastination is probably the single biggest reason many people don’t have an estate plan. Some people might think “I’m healthy and not going to die for a long time. I’ll worry about estate planning later.” While this may work for some people, it’s a gamble with your family’s emotional and financial well being at stake. Incapacity and death don’t wait for people to get all their ducks in a row. If someone keeps putting off making an estate plan and something happens, their loved ones will suffer the emotional and financial consequences of their procrastination.
Contents of Our Estate Plan with a Revocable Living Trust
For a detailed explain of what is contained in our three estate plan bundles go to “Arizona Estate Plan Contents.”
Our Estate Plan
$3,497 for a single person and $4,497 for a couple. If you bought our Gold LLC within four months of the date you pay for your estate plan you get a $1,000 discount. This plan includes a revocable living trust that provides that the assets in your trust pass automatically on your death (or on the death of both spouses if you are married) to an irrevocable beneficiary controlled asset protected trust created for each of your heirs and their descendants. Your heirs inherited assets in their trusts will be protected for life from their creditors, ex-spouses and bankruptcy courts. Each heir's trust is also a "dynasty trust" that creates a trust for your heirs children on the heir's death. See "A Smart Option for Transferring Wealth Through Generations: The Dynasty Trust."
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