What comes to your mind when you think of “estate planning”? Do you have a vision of modern day Downton Abbey-esque characters? Trust funds passing down vast family wealth from generation to generation? While families with great amounts of monetary wealth definitely have a need for estate planning, every other type of family does too. When you create your plan, you are dictating who gets your stuff, when they get it, and who will take care of you and your kids if you’re not able to do so.
These decisions are so important to make because if you don’t make them, the law will make the decisions for you. At the end of the day, you’re not just creating the plan for your own benefit. You’re creating a plan to make sure your children and your family would be taken care of no matter what happens in your life. When you meet with an estate planner, you’ll talk about 3 big topics.
First—and most importantly—what is going to happen to your children if something were to happen to you while they’re dependent on you for support? Who would be there in a moment of crisis? Would someone who can respond quickly have legal authority to care for your children? Does the long-term guardian know how you would want your children raised?
Second, what is going to happen to your assets? There really isn’t a one-size-fits-all plan. Your plan should reflect your goals and desires. For example, in blended families there may be a concern about making sure your property first passes to your spouse but then goes to your biological children after that. To make sure that happens, you could set up a trust. Trusts can be useful tools in directing how money should be used to benefit your loved ones after you’re gone. It is especially important to have a basic trust in place if a minor may inherit money. If one wasn’t, a judge would appoint a guardian to manage the money—a costly and time consuming process.
Finally, who would take care of your financial, legal, and health care decisions if you’re alive but unable to do so (for example, if you suffer from dementia or are unconscious)? You can also express your wishes about end of life issues. This can lighten the burden on your family during a time when they are making many difficult decisions.
I am here to help you identify your goals and decide which plan is going to work best to accomplish them. Your estate plan shouldn’t be something that you do once and then never change. As your life changes, your plan should too. Your children grow up; your monetary wealth increases; you grow older. If something major happens in your life or family, you should update your plan. I offer free three year check-ups to all my clients to make sure that their plans are still working the way they want and need them to throughout their lives. If you have any questions about estate planning, or if you want to talk about your particular needs, please contact me. I’d be happy to meet you for coffee, so you can get your questions answered.
Julie Cornell is a Nashville estate planning attorney who founded her firm with a particular purpose in mind—to assist growing families in protecting their children, preserving their assets, and planning for the future. Julie believes that estate planning is more than meeting with a lawyer for a couple of hours in order to sign some form documents that you don’t understand. It is all about protecting what is most important to you and passing on your legacy. Julie listens to each client to help identify the client’s goals, needs, and concerns. She then creates a plan that ensures the safety and well-being of her clients and their children. Julie is a Knoxville, Tennessee native who now lives in East Nashville with her husband (and law firm co-founder) Russell. They enjoy taking full advantage of all the great food Nashville has to offer!
Contact info for Julie: (email) [email protected]; (phone) (615) 301-1733
Disclosure: As moms to young children, we are concerned about their future and what it holds for them. We wondered, what is the best way to ensure their future—financial and otherwise?! Today’s post is sponsored by Cornell Law Group and will bring you an estate planning attorney’s perspective on truly, “What You Need to Know About Estate Planning.”