Hi, my name is Jordan Flake. I'm an attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group and I do a lot of estate planning for my job.
I want to address something that might seem really simple but it's an important concept and if you can understand this concept, then that will really point your mind in the right direction with respect to getting your affairs in order.
That simple question is, "What is an estate?"
We talk about estate planning all the time but I think that we sometimes take the concept of an estate for granted.
An Estate Isn't Just for the Very Wealthy
Let's talk about that for a second. When I pictured what an estate was before I went to law school, I pictured this rich guy who lives on a hill and he has an iron gate and the iron gate has his initials on them and he has lots of servants and he has hounds because rich people have hounds and they run through the orchard.
He goes out on his balcony and he says, "Look upon my vast estate," and so when I thought about estate planning, I thought that I would be dealing with these types of individuals.
It is true that some of our clients are extremely wealthy and have those types of situations and those types of assets, but that really isn't what estate planning is all about.
Yes, You Will Have an Estate Too
In order to understand what an estate is, I want you to maybe grab out your wallet or your purse, whatever you have, and just put it right out in front of you on the table and look at that and say, "Okay. Here's my wallet or my purse and in that wallet or purse, I have some credit cards which means I have some creditors. I have some cash which means I have some assets."
Maybe you have your house keys in there. Maybe you have some prescription pills. You have a lot going on in that wallet or that purse that you have or your personal bag there, your car keys.
Maybe you have an IOU that you owe somebody else money or maybe somebody owes you money so you might have some claims, some debts that are owed to you. You could really have a lot going on there.
Then just imagine that tragically you either become incapacitated or you pass away. Before that moment happens, you have the ability to go into that bag and deal with everything that's in there.
You have the ability to go in and take out the money and pay off a creditor. You have the ability to take the car keys and go sell that car to somebody else.
You have the capacity to go take this claim that you have, somebody owes you money and you have the ability to go chase that person down and say, "Hey, I want my money." You have that ability while you have your life and while you have your capacity.
Use an Estate Plan to Keep Control of Your Assets
The second you pass away or become incapacitated, something happens in the legal universe that changes the entire context for what's going on. You no longer at that point have the ability to reach into your purse or your wallet and deal with those affairs.
However, we can all agree that you still have some kind of a right or some kind of an interest in having those things happen the way that you want them to, basically be dealt with the way that you want them to be dealt with.
That right there, that little moment in time when you become incapacitated or you pass away and you can no longer reach into that bag and deal with your own affairs the way that you want to deal with them, that little moment in time, an estate bursts into existence.
That is the legal concept that you still have rights and interests in things over which you may not actually have control. That is the idea behind an estate. When we talk about estate planning, we're saying, "We're here to help you so that when that moment inevitably comes," and it will come for all of us, when we can no longer control our personal affairs, we have done something, set something in place legally to deal with all of the questions that might arise.
Some of the Questions Your Estate Plan Will Resolve
Those questions primarily being, "Who's going to be controlling this when I can longer control it? Where's this stuff going to be going, on what terms and to what individuals?"
That's the idea behind estate planning and it certainly doesn't take you having this huge mansion and living on this big, rich estate in the old traditional sense of that word. Instead it's just how are you going to control your assets when you can no longer actually control them the way that you're accustomed to controlling them right now?
Our law firm, we consider ourselves to be in the peace of mind business. We are here to make it so that when you think about those moments, when you relinquish control over everything that you've built up in this life, you have a sense of peace about that because you know that everything's going to be handled appropriately and legally, and it's going to be valid and enforceable and it's going to happen according to your customized specific expectations.
That is the process of estate planning. It's why I love doing what I do. I would strongly encourage you to call Clear Counsel Law Group, set up a consultation with me. You can reach us at (702) 476-5900 and we'd be happy to talk about different options that we have to help you with your estate.