Joyce and Sam have been married eight years, have two minor children, and work hard every day to build a strong family and a financial future that offers some hope. They know that they should protect their family against the unthinkable – an untimely death or disability. They have many questions and very few answers.
• Do we really need an estate plan? Won’t a basic will do the job?
• Do we have to use a lawyer? Should we use a lawyer?
• What happens if one of us dies suddenly?
• Do we need life insurance? If so, how much? And what kind?
• What if one of us is a poor money manager?
• What if I die and my spouse remarries?
• What about the kids if we are both gone?
• What trust structure option best fits our kids or our grandkids?
• What about trustees and guardians? What are their roles? How do we pick them?
• What should be our kids’ age of inheritance – when they get their inheritance with no strings attached?
• Should our planning look beyond our immediate family – to outsiders or charity?
• Should we be concerned about death taxes?
• What is probate? Like so many, should we try to avoid it? If so, how?
• Who should run the show if death strikes? How can we make the job easier?
• How can we personalize our plan for kids and grandkids?
• How can we plan for a serious incapacity?
The problem is that Sam and Joyce just don’t know enough to meaningfully discuss these questions. They lack core knowledge.
Core knowledge pays off big in these situations. For those drawn to self-help services, it provides an essential foundation for tackling the planning challenge and compensating for the limitations of their self-help program (they all have them). For individuals who desire quality professional help, it makes it easy to spot the phonies – those professionals who suffer from a blind incompetence that precludes anything better than the self-help stuff.
But most importantly, core knowledge makes it possible for any individual to actively participate in the planning process and to ensure that smart decisions are made and the job is done right. And all along the way, the individual’s knowledge base and confidence will continually grow. So for Sam, Joyce, and most other couples, the threshold challenge is to obtain relevant, quality core knowledge through the most convenient, easy-to-understand means available.
PlainTalk Planning, has released a new website (http://www.wills-estateplanning.com) that offers a plainspoken 64-minute video and easy-to-use educational tools that prepare a couple to privately discuss these key questions and make important decisions to protect their family.
Dwight Drake is an experienced planning lawyer, business owner, and law professor at the University of Washington School of Law. He authors an educational service (http://www.plaintalkplanning.com) and a blog (http://www.drakeplaintalkplanning.com). For details on his program on wills and estate planning, go to http://www.wills-estateplanning.com
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Video Rating: 4 / 5