Hi everybody, my name’s Miranda Dressler and I’m an attorney with the Law Offices of Bridget Mackay in Petaluma, California. And today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about something that most every client I’ve ever met with initially says to me when I first sit down with them and that is, “well we’re very simple. So, this should be a straightforward process or an easy process.”
And I think that what most people mean when they say “we’re simple” is they’re referring to their assets. We just have a house and a retirement account and a couple of bank accounts. Our assets are simple.
While your assets themselves might be simple and probably one of your goals is to make sure that those assets get passed down to your beneficiaries who are typically your children or your grandchildren. You know it is easy and smooth way as possible.
When we really start looking at the components of your plan and things like your family dynamics and how the plan actually will be set up to provide those inheritances. We usually find that things aren’t actually as simple as people thought when it comes to the components of the plan itself. Because your plan really is about so much more than simply passing your assets down.
You need to consider whether your beneficiaries are financially responsible. Can they handle a large lump sum inheritance, or do we need to structure their distribution a little more strategically based on what is going on with them personally? And maybe have someone else manage their inheritance for them. Another issue that can be complex when setting up a plan is designating the import, you know, who is going to fill in the important roles in an estate plan. For example, a successor trustee or a power of attorney agents, someone who will manage your finances for you if you become incapacitated and then ultimately will see to it that the terms of your estate plan are implemented. You need to choose somebody for that role who themselves is financially responsible. Good with finances, you know, is on top of things so that, you know, if you do become incapacitated you have someone there who’s competent who is managing things for you.
And then beyond finances there’s the issue of someone to make health care decisions for you. So, you need to appoint someone in your, as part of your estate plan, to make health care decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. You’ll need to appoint somebody in that role who you can trust will kind of make decisions along the lines of what you would have wanted to have happen.
Funding your trust and dealing with the assets in your estate plan is the easy part. Determining you know what your goals are. Who’s important in your life, who your beneficiaries are and the best way to construct your plan often is what is the most difficult complex and time-consuming part of creating an estate plan.
If you have any questions about this or any other estate planning topic you should consult with an experienced estate planning attorney in your area. Thank you.