In my more than 30 years of practicing law, I have seen a lot of terrible outcomes resulting from both families and businesses having failed to plan the succession for their businesses, their real estate holdings, their retirement accounts, their bank and brokerage accounts and even their pets.
By looking ahead, detailing your wishes, and creating a roadmap you can avoid difficult situations I’ve witnessed over the years such as:
- A farm family was unable to tap the deceased matriarch’s large savings account in order to provide for operating needs because no death beneficiary was specified in advance.
- A once-thriving businesses withered and died when better planning could have provided a legacy for the deceased entrepreneur’s heirs.
- A widow was kicked out of the home she shared with her late husband because the home was titled in the name of her husband and his mother as joint tenants with right of survivorship, a common form of ownership in which the survivor takes all. Unexpectedly, her husband died first, leaving the home to her mother-in-law, who died without a will not long after that, leaving the house to the widow’s sisters-in-law. The sisters-in-law kicked the widow out, clearly contrary to her deceased husband’s and mother-in-law’s wishes as they had been talking about making changes to the vesting to prevent this, but they never got around to it.
- A woman I knew predeceased her parents. She had been married with no children. She did not leave a will because she assumed that if she died intestate (which means without a will) everything would “automatically” go to her spouse. Contrary to her intentions, half of her substantial separate property estate ended up being distributed to her elderly parents, who hardly needed the money, after a costly probate.
- I worry about people in long-term unmarried relationships. Without a will or trust, or both, the surviving partner is guaranteed to get nothing if the other dies.
- I personally have adopted dogs who ended up as strays or in foster care when their former caretakers passed away without a plan in place for their beloved pets. I can’t adopt them all, unfortunately, but I also have volunteered numerous times to help transport rescue animals from death row to forever homes.
Death and taxes are inevitable, but there is plenty we can do to minimize the burdens on our loved ones, create a smooth transition, and protect your legacy.
As an attorney and as a person who has lost a spouse I can express the relief and gratitude I experienced because I had:
- A comprehensive estate and disability plan in place when my late husband was diagnosed with cancer.
- All of the tools and financial support I needed to obtain medical records, make medical decisions, obtain 24/7 in-home care.
- Access financial and other assets with very few questions asked and without having to go to court.
I am passionate about helping you ensure that when sad events like death or disability occur, family members are empowered to carry out your intentions without having to ever darken the doorstep of the local courthouse.
Don’t follow in the footsteps of these famous celebrities who failed to plan!
Peace of mind through planning. I would love to have the honor of helping you achieve it.