August is “National Make-A-Will Month,” and if you have already prepared your will, congratulations—too few Americans have taken this key first step in the estate planning process. Yet, while having a will is important—and all adults over age 18 should have this document in place—for all but a few people, creating a will is just one small part of an effective estate plan that works to keep your loved ones out of court and out of conflict.
One of the most difficult things to do is think about the possibility we may die unexpectedly or too early, leaving our children without one of the most important people in their lives. That's why protecting your children in any way possible, including legally, would be at the top of your priority. Create a legal plan to protect your children if something happens to you. This is one of the best Father's Day gifts you can give yourself and the people you love.
Although married same-gender couples are now enjoying nearly all of the same rights as opposite-gender couples, there is still one key right that’s still up in the air—the automatic right to be legal parents. While parental rights are automatically bestowed upon the biological parent, the non-biological spouse/parent still faces a number of challenges when it comes to obtaining full parental rights. Luckily, same-gender couples do have an alternative to adoption—estate planning.
Although same-gender marriage is legally recognized in all 50 states, long-held prejudice at both political and family levels continues to create complications for married and unmarried same-gender couples. With this, especially if you're a member LGBTQ+ community, estate planning is even more critical for you and your beloved to ensure that they will be protected and provided for in the event of your death or incapacity.
If you are a mom or dad with children under the age of 18 at home, your number-one estate planning priority should be selecting and legally documenting both long and short-term guardians for your kids. Guardians are the people legally named to care for your children in the event something happens to you. And if you've named guardians for your children in your will - even with the help of another lawyer - your kids could still be at risk of being taken into the care of strangers!
As a parent, you're likely hoping to leave your children an inheritance, and doing so maybe one of the primary factors motivating your life's work. But without taking the proper precautions, the wealth you pass on is at serious risk of being accidentally lost or squandered due to common life events, such as divorce, serious debt, devastating illness, and unfortunate accidents.
As we head into the third year of the pandemic, we realize how fragile our lives and health are. If you haven't gotten sick, you certainly know someone who has died in the past two years. Yet even if you avoid getting sick right now, the fact remains that we're all vulnerable to severe illness or injury. And if you're a parent, the most frightening aspect is knowing that if something happens to you, your children would be left without you to care for them, whether temporarily or permanently.
While the DIY approach might be a good idea if you're looking to build a new deck for your backyard, it's actually one of the worst choices you can make when it comes to estate planning. Are you willing to put your family's well-being and wealth at risk just to save a few bucks? If you want to do the right thing for those you truly love, contact your Personal Family Lawyer to get your Life and Legacy Planning started.
Creating your estate plan using online document services can give you a false sense of security—you think you've got estate planning covered when you most likely do not. Keep in mind, just because you created "legal" estate planning documents online, that doesn't mean they'll work when you or your loved ones need them. Without a clear knowledge of your family dynamics, nature of your assets, and how the legal process works upon your incapacity or death, you're likely to make serious mistakes.
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.