Part 2: When Do You Begin Thinking About an Estate Plan?

by Jack Morrison on August 18, 2011

Welcome to the second article in our 2-part series, “When Do You Begin Thinking About an Estate Plan?” (Did you catch the first article?) Although the answer is simple—when something significant changes in your life—making that first step isn’t always so easy.

Have you experienced a significant event recently? This includes: 

  • Buying a house
  • Getting married
  • Having a baby
  • Getting divorced
  • Remarrying
  • Getting ill
  • Acquiring an asset 

Last week we discussed buying a house and getting married. Now we’ll discuss two more scenarios: starting a family and getting divorced.

  • Starting a Family: Starting a family marks a turning point in your life: you have to think about other people besides just yourself. Until kids reach a certain age, they are totally dependent on their parents’ ability to provide for them. If something should happen, your kids will go into the care of the guardian you designate for them. But what if you pass away without creating a will or designate a guardian? This is a nightmare for families to resolve. Not to mention a nightmare for the kids in the interim.
  • Getting Divorced: Divorce signifies a physical and emotional break-up. The divorce itself legally separates the assets of both parties. But it’s important to make sure that everything else is done correctly…that the life insurance policy is changed to reflect new beneficiaries…that IRAs name new beneficiaries. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are other things you need to do. Divorce, in general, voids any gift to the former spouse. But now you need to update and redo your will to accurately confirm your current wishes.

Are you ready to take the next step and make sure you’ve properly planned for you and your loved ones?

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As a Clinton and Worcester Estate Planning Lawyer, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their Massachusetts estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

This Monday, on the 4th of July, we’ll celebrate the liberation of our great country from unwanted oppressive rule. Today, we can take away a valuable lesson from those American heroes who led the way long ago: be courageous enough to seek financial independence. Liberate yourself in order to get a fresh start. 

Creating an estate plan will allow you to protect what you have and decide where your assets will go upon your death. Knowing you’re preserving your future—and that of your loved ones—will be very freeing. 

In my Worcester, MA estate planning practice, I see a recurring theme of why people put off creating an estate plan: procrastination. Many think that nothing will ever happen to them, and there are other, higher priority items on their to-do list. But what if something were to happen? Creating an estate plan is gaining independence free from making decisions beyond the grave. 

The creation of an estate plan is usually triggered from two life-altering events: 1) starting a family or 2) nearing retirement age. Both pivotal events help you understand how fragile life is. When you have a will, you’ve made provisions. For young families, you’ve selected a guardian who will love your children and who will raise them with the same beliefs you have. For retirees, you understand that life occurs when you’re busy making other plans. You finally (although probably reluctantly) understand your mortality. 

Getting your financial matters in order is important. Independence is coming to the realization that you have the power to make decisions that will benefit you and your loved ones. You will be amazed at the relief you’ll feel. 

My name is Attorney Jack Morrison. As an estate planning attorney in Worcester, MA, I assist clients every day with creating and updating their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.

When you have young children, it’s hard to ever consider the idea that something unexpected might happen and you may not be around to raise them into becoming adults. After all, you’re young and healthy, right? It’s painful and sad to think these thoughts—but it’s also very necessary. Your future should include a contingency: plan for the best but prepare for the worst. After all, why would you gamble with your children’s future? 

As you consider putting together an estate plan that will provide for your young children, here are a few things to think about: 

  • Be realistic about your resources: Although you might want to set aside enough money for each of your children to attend the college or university of their choice, that time is a long way off. Make sure your children are first clothed, fed and sheltered adequately.
  • Think carefully about who you will appoint as a guardian: Many young parents put off creating an estate plan because they can’t, or don’t want to, come to a decision about who they want to select as a guardian. Choosing a guardian is not a light undertaking. You must consider the guardian’s lifestyle, values, religion and health. For example, is a grandparent healthy and capable of managing and raising one, two or three young children?
  • Consider appointing a separate person to manage the finances: It’s not uncommon for parents to appoint someone—separate from the guardian—to manage your children’s finances as they grow up. This person will handle the money, and the estate, that will be left to your kids. The individual who you choose should spend money as you would and who most closely shares your financial values and beliefs.  

If you don’t make the plans now to take care of your children (in the event something happens to you and your spouse) someone else could be making the decision for you. That could be a relative (who may or may not know your wishes), or at worst, the state who may appoint foster care or another guardian. 

Estate planning is not a selfish act—it’s intended to provide for your children and loved ones. As a Clinton and Worcester, MA Estate Planning Attorney, I assist clients every day with their estate plans. Call my office at 508.852.7800 or reach out via our contact form.