The Non-Professional Pitfall: The Costly Mistake of Putting Your Estate Plans in the Hands of the Wrong Person

Imagine this: you’ve visited The TGQ Law Blog and you’ve read all about estate plans, wills, and trusts. You then went to a workshop held by Attorney Terrence Quinn and you’ve listened to him expertly explain the importance of estate planning, and you began to think about how difficult it would be for your loved ones if you passed away without an estate plan. You become really serious about it- so much so, that you choose an online legal software to prepare your will, powers of attorney, etc. Or better yet, you know someone whose distant cousin may have mentioned that they might know how to draw up a will.

I mean, how difficult can it be?

You’re simply writing down your wishes for the disbursement of your lifelong earnings and acquired assets and appointing agents to make financial and medical decisions for you. That is, until the unthinkable occurs for you and your family members, and everything is a mess. Your will doesn’t hold up in probate court because of an error, there’s outdated information, your beneficiary passed away and no one else is listed! Your family is distraught- who will they turn to, to help them sort all of this out? Is it too late to hire an expert estate planning attorney?

Online Wills

Various online publications will advise you that legal software is just as good as an estate planning attorney. These software programs will promise you a quick, cheap, and easy will-planning process. However, estate plans are not one-size-fits-all. Most of us are typically meticulous about every detail in our lives. Whether it’s choosing the perfect job, finding a good school for our children, or trusting the right caregivers with our parents, we’re careful. But when it comes to estate plans and planning for what happens posthumously, or in the event of the decline of our health, the attention to detail doesn’t seem to withstand. A cheap online estate plan can cost you- and your loved ones- more in the long run, even before you pass away. Click To Tweet When thinking about your loved ones, you’ll want the best option that will ensure them the best care – not the cheapest.

Hiring an Estate Planning Attorney

When hiring an estate planning attorney, the last thing you’ll want to do is hire a jack-of-all-trades, or worst yet, a jack-of-no-trades. After all, a will is no laughing matter- there are important life events and circumstances that weigh into your decisions, such as family members with disabilities, minor children, business assets, etc. For every unique life circumstance, there is a possible unique problem that can arise. At The TGQ Law Firm, our attorneys are trained to and can guide you in the right direction. They have the training and experience to be able to foresee possible conflicts that may occur before they happen.

Don’t leave your plan in the wrong hands. Contact The TGQ Law Firm today to help you plan your family’s next steps.

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What You Need to Know About Estate Planning To Get Started

The term “estate planning” may sound like something just for millionaires but that’s furthest from the truth. Everyone, whether  young, old, a student, an athlete, single, married, or a CEO, needs a plan for the future and there are no pre-qualifiers. Simply put, if you are alive, you need an estate plan. Below we’ve outlined what you need to know about estate planning to get started.

Questions to Ponder

Consider this:  If I get sick, who will take care of me? If I die, who is going to take care of my stuff? Who is going to get my money?  How will my children be cared for? Who’s going to handle my email and online accounts?  These are some of the questions that you probably have thought about but haven’t been able to answer.  

If you do have answers to these questions, it’s important to make sure those answers are written in a legally sufficient manner, so that your interests are actually accomplished when the time comes.  Your estate planning attorney will help you make sure that these questions are answered, according to your wishes, and within the parameters of current estate planning laws.

One Size Does Not Fit All

One of the common things that you may find while searching for a will are “will kits” or other online “tools.” Such tools may seem convenient and quick, but the convenience is deceiving. Will kits are often “one size fits all” which means that if you need something specific in your will, you’re on your own. And even if you have your own will, it may not be enough to save your assets from probate.

A Customized Plan

There are plans for everyone and for every walk of life, whether you are single, divorced, married, etc. If you are single, you will want to make sure you know who is going to take care of you if you get sick or who is going to distribute your assets when you die. If you have children, creating a plan ensures that any minor children of yours are taken care of by people you trust. In addition, you want to ensure that your children are provided for when you are gone. If you are married, you may want to make sure that your spouse is designated as your personal representative, successor trustee, funeral representative, patient advocate, and power of attorney.  An attorney can help sort things out specifically for what you need to know about estate planning in your case.

Avoiding Probate

If you die without a trust or a will your entire estate goes public through a process called probate. When you die without a plan, your assets go through your state’s probate court. In probate court, what happens to your assets is determined by the court, not by you or your family. Probate is often difficult to navigate, as there are a lot of steps to complete the process, there are many deadlines, and there a lot of people involved in getting access to your assets.  As a result, probate can be a burdening process for your loved ones as it will cost them time, and in most cases a lot of money from inventory and attorney fees. With a plan, your assets will go to the people whom you have intended to receive your assets, without the stress.

Consult with a Qualified Attorney

With all of that said, a good, qualified attorney is necessary to complete your planning process. You want to find an attorney who is qualified specifically in estate planning, or in other words, an attorney who has taken the three year course that is necessary to be certified in estate planning.  Attorneys who are not certified with estate planning do not have the expertise to handle your estate planning needs and will cost you your money and your time. 

With attorneys at the TGQ Law Firm, you can feel confident you are receiving excellent service.

Call the TGQ Law Firm at 734 (707)-3232 or email at tgqlaw.com to schedule a fifteen minute consultation today. Take a step for your future, invest in an estate plan.

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How to Have a Conversation with Your Parents About Estate Planning

How do you have a conversation with your parents about estate planning? My first impulse is to answer to this question with the statement, “Very carefully.” Your parents are your parents and you are their child no matter how old you are. A discussion about estate planning for tough situations such as death or incapacitation, or a discussion about what their wishes are, who gets what, and what happens if they get sick, is not one that many people like to have. So when I say that this conversation should be approached very carefully, I mean just that: approach this conversation full of care.

 

  1. Check your motive.

    Your motive for wanting to have this conversation will reveal itself. Whether the motive is to get your mom’s cookbooks or it is to lessen potential drama in the family when mom passes, the motive will show. Therefore, it is good to check your own motives. I find that the best conversations about estate planning with parents happen when the child or children are truly motivated by the goal to see their parents wishes accomplished. This means when they are gone and/or are no longer able to make decisions on their own. Sincerely caring about your parents and wanting to support them in making sure what they want to happen actually happens is a motive that most parents respect and can get behind. This motive opens up the door for them to hear what you have to say. Therefore, they are more open to consider what you have to share with them about estate planning.

  2. Know the basics.

    It’s important to be informed yourself. Your parents may have questions about what an estate plans, wills, trusts, powers of attorney, etc. You want to be able to answer your parents questions or know where to refer them. One of  great things about The TGQ Law Firm is we have articles that explain the basics. One of the best things about The TGQ Law Firm is that we offer a free 25 minute phone consultation with prospective clients. Consequently, your parents can talk to an attorney that is an expert in estate planning free of charge before committing to an attorney. This way, they can and find out what they need to know.

  3. Consider the setting.

    When talking to your parents, consider the setting. What place will they be comfortable talking? Will you need privacy? Probably. Who should be a part of this conversation? Should you talk to your parents alone first? All of these things should be considered. Above all, you want to have the most productive and supportive conversation with your parents.

  4. Have resources available.

    Share information about estate planning with your parents. Give them a brochure from The TGQ Law Firm, take them to a seminar that The TGQ Law Firm sponsors, and share article links listed above. Maybe you’ll want to print them out and give them the articles, or schedule a phone conference for them with one of our expert attorneys. Be sure to make the information they need available so they can make an informed decision about what they need.

  5. Be willing to revisit the conversation several times.

    It may take several conversations before any actual estate planning takes place. Therefore, it is important to be patient with the process. Your parents may need to think about this for a minute. However, it is equally important to try to help them get the ball rolling. It is better to plan ahead than to be scrambling to put things in place. You want to avoid facing the publicity or conflict of not having a plan.

 

At The TGQ Law Firm, we know that this conversation and process can be daunting to people. We know it is not easy to plan for these tough moments in life, but we also know how much more difficult these tough moments are when proper planning has not taken place.

Our core values at The TGQ Law Firm are to treat people well, provide sound counsel, and make the process enjoyable. We are confident that you and your parents will be well informed, have your needs met, and feel cared for as you work with our law firm. Feel free to contact by phone, email, or on our website to schedule your appointment or your free phone consultation today. We are here for you.

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Why You Need to Talk to Mom and Dad About Estate Planning

During the holiday season, there are many events that we look forward to- trimming the tree, cooking with our family, and enjoying time with our loved ones over the exchanging of gifts. One exchange that your family could be avoiding, however, is the conversation that is most important: what will occur when one, or both, of your parents pass away.

Addressing the Elephant In The Room

In such a jovial season, we typically do not want something as sobering as the death of our parents looming over the festive occasion. This can be especially true when there is already underlying tension amongst the siblings and/ or tension between a particular sibling and their parents. An argument can erupt from over just about anything from life insurance payouts to who will get mom’s collection of cookbooks. But if you don’t address the elephant in the room, it’s only a matter of time before that elephant stampedes on everyone. As tough as it may be to hold an estate planning meeting with your parents, it is the most important thing that you can do to protect their legacy.

Discussing Assets

A common source of conflict is usually discussing the protection of assets. There may be a sibling who has leaned on the parents more than the others, there could be a sibling who is struggling with substance abuse, or a sibling who is suffering from a mental illness. There could be a long-standing sibling rivalry over favoritism. One sibling’s economic status may be disproportionate to their siblings leading to questions about if the money be granted and dispersed fairly? And what does fair mean to the parents vs. what it means to the siblings? What will happen if your parents loaned a sibling money- will they have to pay it back? And how will they pay it back to the estate?

Avoiding Probate

When you fail to plan, you run the risk of your estate going through probate. Without an estate plan in place, the probate court will make the decision for you. This process determines who will control your estate, including how your debts will be paid, who will gain possession of your property, and who will inherit your money. Your parent’s dealings become public record- and nobody wants that – especially them.

Talk to an Attorney

Before you have “the talk” with your parents, it is best to consult with an experienced estate attorney. AT TGQ Law, our team will help walk you through the process. We will work with you to identify any underlying issues that you may encounter as a result of introducing the topic of estate planning. We will recommend best practices to introduce the topic and identify who should be involved. We’ll help you craft a plan and hold your hand through it- you won’t be going through it alone and neither will your parents.

The elephant in the room carries a lot of weight but what will weigh more- having the discussion or the chaos that it will leave behind if you don’t?