A Will is Not Enough
If you are a parent of children who are counting on you, your estate plan must begin with ensuring your children would always be taken care of by the people you want, in the way you want, no matter what happens.
At Hartney Family & Estate Law, one of our areas of greatest expertise is in planning for the well-being and care of the children you love.
Without advance legal planning for the care of your children, if the unthinkable happens to you, here's what could happen:
- Your children could be placed into the care of Child Protective Services (yes, even if you have a will in place and even if you have a living trust) and, yes, it would very likely only be temporary, but trust me, you never want your children in the arms of strangers. Not even for a minute.
- Your children could be put into the custody and care of someone you would never want, like that one family member who has good intentions, but you'd never want raising your kids.
- A judge who doesn't know you, or your family, will decide who will raise your kids, even if it's the last person you would ever want;
- Your family could get into a long, drawn out custody fight or there could be a challenge to the guardians you have designated;
- Up to 5% of the value of your assets could be lost to court costs and other unnecessary fees through the probate process, a court process that can tie up your assets for years and deprive your kids of the resources they need to live comfortably, which can totally be avoided with advance legal planning;
- When your kids turn 18, they get a check for whatever assets are left;
- There are unscrupulous people out there who make it their business to look at the public records to find out when 18 year olds are getting that inheritance check;
- The vast majority of estate planning attorneys does not address these issues, and do not plan from a parents perspective.
Yes, these things scare us too. That's why we offer a Kids Protection Plan with every estate plan we do for families with young children.
What is a Kids Protection Plan®?
A Kids Protection Plan® is a set of instructions, legal documents and even an ID card for your wallet, which you need to have if you have kids at home who count on you for their well-being and care.
If you are in an accident, your Kids Protection Plan® will make sure your children are never taken into the custody of Child Protective Services or the care of anyone you wouldn't want because the police don't have clear instructions from you. And your Kids Protection Plan® will ensure your children are raised by people you choose, not someone chosen by a Judge who doesn't know you.
To get started with your Kids Protection Plan®, contact us.
Before Hiring an Estate Planning Lawyer, Understand the Difference
Many estate planning attorneys take a "one-size fits all" approach with their clients; they do this so that they can work with as many people as possible in a short period of time. The problem is that the client has an impersonal experience; but worse than that, this way of planning can lead to unintended results in the long run for the family.
When lawyers do not take the time to listen and consider a family's personal circumstances, the result is that your Will & Trust Documents do not end up reflecting what your family really wants to happen. And usually there is no review or updating, so the plan quickly becomes outdated and does not work when your family needs it most.
So even though you may pay less up front to get a standard set of documents (or even documents that are customized for your family), things end up much more expensive in the long run. Plus, you leave your family at risk of having to deal with an expensive, unnecessary court process during a time of tremendous grief.
Why Work with Us
Hartney Family & Estate Law is right for you if you want to know that your plan will actually work when you and your loved ones need it the most. If all you want is a set of legal documents, there are plenty of online resources you can use to create them. Or you can go to a traditional estate planning lawyer.
If what you want is to know you've got a plan in place that will make things easy for your loved ones no matter what happens when, we're the right fit for you.
Here are some of the ways we are different from many estate planning lawyers:
- All of our fees are fixed fees agreed to in advance, so there are no surprises. At our initial meeting you will choose the level of planning and fee that works best for your family, so there will never be any surprises.
- We keep you informed and make sure your plan works. We don't just prepare a set of legal documents for you and send you on your way. We make sure your assets are owned in the right way, we make sure your kids' well-being is properly planned for, we ensure everyone you've named in your plan knows what to do if anything happens to you.
- We review your plan at least every 3 years and annually through our Family Wealth VIP Membership program. . We foster a lifetime, ongoing relationship with our clients. Throughout your life, things change. You change; your assets change; your family changes; the law will definitely change.
- We have a team in place to answer your quick questions and to make the planning process incredibly easy and painless for you and your family. We have a process for helping you make sure that your assets are titled in the right way, both now and over your lifetime.
- We help you get your legal and financial house in order by helping you make smart choices about things like buying insurance, saving for college, and retirement planning so you never spend more than you have to or get taken advantage of by unscrupulous sales people.
- Legacy Planning. We believe that planning is about much more than just the transfer of your financial wealth. With all of our plans, we include a process to help you transfer your most important personal wealth to your loved ones, including your intellectual, spiritual and human assets - who you are and what's important to you.
Before you engage an estate planning lawyer to help you plan for the well‐being of your money, your family and your life, there are questions you need to ask. You need to ensure that the estate plan you put in place will really work when your family needs it and won't end up just a pile of worthless paper after you are gone.
Don't let a set of legal documents become false security that keeps you from doing what's best for your loved ones.