There is a lot of uncertainty right now. So many things about life as we know it have changed in the last few weeks, and for many of us, we’re not quite sure we have caught up to all of it yet. “Going out to eat with friends” now means ordering takeout, driving to pick it up, and eating it in your car with your window rolled down, parked at least 6 feet away from your friend who is doing the same thing (no, I have not actually tried this yet, but people are definitely doing it right now). And “let’s schedule a meeting” means let’s plan a time to talk on the phone or have a Zoom meeting. Zoom, like Purell, is suddenly a hot commodity, but what is it, and how do you use it?
Entering college is the start of an exciting chapter in a young person’s life. It may seem inappropriate to be thinking about estate planning at that time, but there are documents that are important for a college student to have in place. Take a look at our infographic for a helpful guide on estate planning in your college years.
According to the Oxford dictionary, a plan is “a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something” or “an intention or decision about what one is going to do.” When everything is going well and we’re sailing along with no worries, planning can feel unnecessarily burdensome or like a waste of time which could be better spent enjoying life. In the midst of busy and full lives, it can be hard to slow down enough to think strategically about the future.
Here at Family Estate Planning Law Group, we believe in planning. It’s in our name, and it’s in our DNA. We can learn a lot, and we can know a lot, but we will never know the future or be able to predict what is coming next. As we all know and have experienced, life has a way of throwing unexpected things at us. Just when we think we have a concrete five-year plan, something changes; when we feel like we are in a certain spot, something shifts. That’s where a plan comes in. It is “an intention or decision about what one is going to do.” It means taking the time to be intentional about how we will deal with the unexpected, so when it happens, we know what we’re going to do.
In this infographic post, we discuss the many reasons a DIY Estate Plan doesn’t work for you. From changes in your life to protecting your retirement, it’s important to understand why these online providers do not provide an adequate substitute for a thorough estate plan. Learn more in our infographic.
Click on the image below to view the full infographic
Estate planning can be a very difficult process. While it’s not brain surgery, making the decision to move forward with the planning requires us to face the fact that we will not live forever. This thought can stop many people right in their tracks. Others talk themselves out of seeing a qualified attorney to put together an estate plan based on three common myths. Today we are going to cover the first two and stayed tuned for our next post that will reveal the third!
For too long the media has controlled the narrative of estate planning. I remember watching the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless, and every time a character died there would be a dramatic will reading in a dark wood-paneled room, or every time Victor was offended by his children or he and Nicki broke up or got back together again, someone would be written into our out of his will. Let’s not forget the trust funds lorded over the kids’ heads either. In reality, estate planning is not just a tool for the rich to try and manipulate their family. To use the popular phrase of the times, that’s “fake news”.
Most estate planning attorneys view themselves as the ultimate authority on estate planning, but what they fail to see is that clients are our ultimate authority because without their input and their leadership we can’t help them truly protect their families. Every family is unique, and every client has their own wishes goals and preferences.
Norms are changing. Every new generation brings about change, and Generation Z and the younger Millennials are reshaping the road traveled once high school is completed. Instead of taking the traditional path that older Millennials largely took, of going to college after secondary school and incurring high student debt, these young adults are taking more varied approaches to building debt-free and successful futures. Since the paradigm is changing, you need to be more flexible in how you save for college and the future for your children. A recent article from Kiplinger, “How to Stay Flexible in Saving for Your Child’s Future,” gives advice on how to be more adaptable in today’s changing college and career world.
A recent TD Ameritrade survey, as cited in the Kiplinger article, found that 1 in 5 young Americans ages 15-21 (Gen Z) and 22-28 (Millennials), may opt out of college. We’ve mentioned this in previous blogs, but one of the underlying reasons for this is that student debt is a major roadblock to life milestones and financial freedom. As the Kiplinger article points out, the TD Ameritrade survey found, “47% [of young Millennials] delayed buying a home because of what they owe, 40% delayed saving for retirement, and 31% delayed moving out of their parents’ home” (Kiplinger).
When I entered high school, I remember sitting down with my dad and discussing financial responsibility. I had actually been working since I was 8 (I worked on a goat farm, yes, I am Heidi in real life), so I already valued work, but what my dad wanted to talk about were my “needs” and “wants”. This meant when I went to the drug store or grocery shopping with my mum after flute lessons, and I needed things, I had to determine if they were true needs or if I just wanted them. Things like toiletries I used regularly were needs. Buying new songs on iTunes or getting new nail polish, those were wants. For wants, I was only allowed to get so many things a month and I had to think about what I had already asked for, and some things I would pay for out of my money from the goat farm. Of course, I tried to argue that books were needs, but I only occasionally won that battle!
In 2008, Congress recognized the need for the public to understand the importance and benefits of estate planning by passing House Resolution 1499, which designated the third week of October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week. Nevertheless, according to a 2019 survey carried out by Caring.com, 57% of adults in the US have not prepared any estate planning documents such as a trust and will despite the fact that 76% viewed them as important. Many said this was due to procrastination, but many others mistakenly believed that it was not necessary because they don’t have many assets.
As retirement approaches, you might be considering downsizing, or you might already be embarking on the journey. It can be a wise decision to think about moving into a small home whether that be in a retirement community or just one that will be easier to maintain (if you’re considering a tiny home check out our blog post on them!). Regardless of what direction you are headed, if you are considering downsizing, there are nine common mistakes you want to avoid. Next Avenue recently shared these mistakes in their article, “9 Common Downsizing Mistakes and How to Avoid Them”.