As many of you may know, my husband, Joe, and I welcomed our second child, Cole Elizabeth, four months ago. (Our son, Callum, is now two and a half.) I look back on the two and a half years of being a parent, and am amazed by all of the planning, reorganizing, re-prioritizing, and information-gathering we have done in that short time. Pediatricians, diapers, parenting styles, proper car seat installation, “indoor activities for your toddler,” the benefits of infant music classes; hardly any kid-related stone left unturned. Yet, I am embarrassed to say that at this stage in the parenting game, I have not made the time to create an estate plan. So, if something happens to Joe and me, we don’t have clear instructions on what should happen with our kids.
I, despite being an attorney, and therefore being someone who should “know better,” have fallen short in the parental preparations. All of the reasons that keep everyone else from planning apply to me. There is the distracting information overload of the internet and media that also tells us what information is important, the hesitation to spend even one moment thinking about my kids losing one or both parents, the invincibility factor (nothing is going to happen to me), as well as the mortality factor (I do not want to ponder my death). And let us not forget the simple failure to take the time and do it.
Yet, on a regular basis I represent clients with probate matters that epitomize the value of estate planning: deceased relatives with assets to divide, aging parents who need extra protection, minor children inheriting money through some unfortunate event or needing a relative to step in as their guardian after losing a parent. With these scenarios come wild stories best saved for another time, but most frequently, I encounter clients’ general uncertainty about what the law says versus what the deceased family member really wanted to have happen with their money, their children, their livelihood, etc. You would be surprised how often the law dictates something vastly different than your ideal. While we all know there is no way to plan for every contingency, when something bad does happen, we can plan for the really important things: who will care for our kids in our stead and who will make sure the money we leave them is used for their care.
So, in 2015, I resolve to finally get that estate plan in place. Who’s with me?