A New Year’s Resolution – Don’t Wait
We have had the wonderful privilege of being extremely busy since I have returned from maternity leave. I feel extremely lucky and blessed that my clients and those who refer me trust me enough that we had a great 2018 and are looking forward to a full and eventful 2019. So, thank you to all who read this for your continued faith and trust in me.
However, I do have a bit of a request. As we enter 2019, if you hear someone talking about a will or power of attorney, any estate plan, with the phrase “We’ve been meaning to do that…” or anything similar, please interrupt. Now, estate planning is my business, so of course, it’s a bit self-serving. But that really isn’t the reason. I’ve had many acquaintances over the years who haven’t used me for one reason or another, and I understand when that happens. A person can be too close. But even when I’ve been told a potential client has had their plan done elsewhere, I thank them for getting it done. Because it can be too late to plan.
I’ve helped a lot of families form a plan to avoid probate, but this year we’ve also helped many loved ones grieving sort through when a plan wasn’t in place. And I’ll be honest, I prefer the planning in advance. Many times, probate is simple, a few months, everyone getting along, and a magic court order that gives easy access. I try to help it work this way any opportunity I can. That, of course, isn’t all the time. If there are people who need access to funds immediately, families that are more complicated, or just small assets spread everywhere, it can make probate a nightmare. Unfortunately, I also have had to tell many families that with the amount of work (and legal fees) involved, probate just wouldn’t be worth it.
There’s also the call I get on a regular basis, where a loved one wants to help get a person a power of attorney, but there’s a question of capacity. Sometimes, we’re able to proceed, but more often then not, it’s too late. In that situation, the only way to access accounts would be to go to the court and petition for a conservatorship.
I hate those calls where I am the one breaking the news that court is the only way and often not a practical way because of the legal fees. It’s terrible for me, and I’m not the one dealing with the situation. So, do me a favor this year, and if you hear anyone making a resolution to get their estate plan encourage them not to wait!