Most people immediately think of taking legal steps to ensure the right people inherit their stuff when they die. Although that thought is not wrong, it also highlights the importance of planning for life. Planning that’s focused solely on who gets what when you die is ignoring that death isn’t the only thing you must prepare for. Consider that at some point before your eventual death, you could be incapacitated, which can drag out over many years, leaving you and your family in agonizing limbo.
The pandemic has caused Americans to change their behavior in different ways, and one of the most positive of these changes is related to estate planning. While many people said that the pandemic inspired them to see a greater need for creating an estate plan, others still don't think that estate planning is important. But as we've outlined here, not having an estate plan can be traumatic and costly for both you and your loved ones, who will be forced to deal with the mess you've left behind.
A comprehensive estate plan can protect what matters most to you. This means everything you own and everyone you love - your children. Take a few minutes to consider right now: if both you and your child's other parent were to become incapacitated or die right now, who would step forward to care for your child? Many parents struggle with including such provisions as naming a legal guardian for their children in their plan. If you're ready to take that step, start by sitting down with us.
Although Britney's story is certainly tragic and we can't be sure how it will ultimately play out, her case has at least shined a spotlight the possible pitfalls within the conservatorship and inspires you to make certain that you and your loved ones have the proper estate planning strategies in place to prevent the loss of autonomy, family conflict, and potential abuse that comes with court-ordered conservatorships and guardianships.
Since the age of 16, when she burst onto the charts with her debut single, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," Britney Spears has been one of the world's most famous and beloved pop stars. Yet despite her fame and fortune, Britney never had full control over her own life. She's been living under a conservatorship for the past 13 years. With the thought that it was only meant to be temporary, yet, it was made long-term, and her father has remained in nearly full control of her life ever since.
Should you become incapacitated without any planning in place, your family should apply to the court for guardianship. In most cases, the court appoints a family member as guardian, but this isn't always the case. If you have no living family members, or those you do have are unwilling to serve or deemed unsuitable by the court, a professional guardian would be appointed. Here's how you can protect yourself in the event of your incapacity using proactive estate planning.
The Netflix movie I Care a Lot provides a dark, violent, and somewhat comedic take on the real-life and not-at-all funny dangers of the legal (and sometimes corrupt) guardianship system. This two-part series discusses how the movie depicts such abuses, how this can happen in real life, and what you can do to prevent something similar from happening to you or your loved ones using proactive estate planning and our Family Wealth Planning process. Learn more here!