Hi. I'm Jordan Flake. I'm an estate planning attorney with Clear Counsel Law Group.
One of the biggest barriers to getting people to actually come in and see me and meet me for a complimentary estate planning consultation, is just the fact that estate planning inherently deals with questions that we sometimes don't want to answer at all.
Sometimes it's really unpleasant to think about our own mortality or our own potential incapacity.
Sometimes it's really hard to think about who would raise our children if we have minor children. It's hard to think about how you want your assets to be distributed because it brings up questions or fairness and what's right with respect to different children who may have either been extremely nice to you or wrong to you.
Estate Planning for Difficult Questions
One of the questions is how do we deal with these uncomfortable questions and these uncomfortable situations? I think the very, very first thing that you want to know when you do this is don't avoid estate planning because you don't feel like you have all the answers. That's the first thing.
Sometimes I get people who say Jordan, we got your card last September. We know we need to do an estate plan, but my wife and I have been talking and talking. And we just can't figure out what we want to do.
We can't figure out which of our kids we can trust? who gets this stuff? Who would take care of us if we were both incapacitated? We're going to think about it for a little while longer and see what we can come up with and then we're going to schedule a consultation.
Please do not do this precisely because a lot of what we're going to discuss in the complimentary consultation is basically some of the different answers to these questions that you might consider.
I regard my job as an estate planning attorney, somebody who can help guide you through some of these uncomfortable and ambiguous situations. I've seen it all in the last 10 years of practicing law. I'm very familiar with a lot of the different situations that can cause this to be hesitant or confused about estate planning. Please don't let those hold you up.
I'll talk about that a little bit more in a moment. The other thing that we sometimes need to worry about is just getting in here at all to do your estate planning. Never mind the fact that you have questions that are hard to answer. Let's just focus on your need to come in and see me in the first place.
The Importance of Starting Your Estate Planning
Please understand that as an estate planning attorney I also look at my position as one that confers peace of mind. I feel like I'm somebody who, my job is to give you peace of mind.
What that means is that before you meet with me and before you have your estate plan set up, you're sitting here thinking, "Oh geez, this is tough to think about. This is tough to do. It's confusing. It's complicated and I don't want to answer these questions."
What do I do if I pass away? I'm just not comfortable with that.
After you meet with me and after we sign the documents that through your wishes I have prepared to become legally and forcible and valid, I can immediately see it's almost like clockwork, a big sigh of relief from my clients who say, "You know, I just feel so, so much better. Thank you so, so much."
Please don't look at what I do as something scary that makes you have to ask all these difficult questions.
Instead, do what I do which is look at the finish line, that moment where you say, "Hey, I'm so glad I got that taken care of. It's one less huge thing that I have to worry about and I just don't have to worry about that anymore."
Of course we'll look at it every 3 to 5 years to make sure it's still says and does what you want it to say and do. Other than that you're in a place where you now have peace of mind. Specifically though, what are some of the tough questions that come up?
Tough Estate Planning Questions for Parents with Minor Children
For those of us who have minor children, I happen to have minor children.
One big question that my wife and I had is how do we decide who will take care of our children? Here's just one example of what I was talking about. I have seen couples refuse to come meet with me as an estate planning attorney because they say, "Jordan I'd love to but my wife and I can't agree on who's going to watch our kids so I don't want to come to an estate plan yet."
Please don't do this. Come meet with me and we can talk about it.
That's one of the touch questions that we get is who's going to watch the kids? One of the reasons this is a tough question is because a lot of parents look at the person whom they're appointing as a potential guardian as a replacement for mom and dad.
This can be too daunting if you think about it. If heaven forbid, something happens to a husband and a wife, a mother and a father, realistically there's not going to be any really great 100% replacement for the love and the care and the attention and maybe the physical environment, the emotional environment. It's going to be very, very difficult, if not impossible, to replicate all of those things.
If you're sitting here saying I don't want to do my estate planning until I figure out who can totally replicate the same life for my kids that my wife and I would've given them, then you're never going to be able to really do your estate planning.
That's a big hangup. It's really, really difficult, if not impossible, to figure that out.
That's something that we can talk through so that you say so you're saying I should do my estate planning because having something is better than having nothing?
Good, okay. You're saying I should be doing my estate planning because listing a guardian who has good fiduciary sense is 9/10 of the battle. You're saying Jordan that I can go ahead and do my estate planning because I don't need to worry about who has an extra room where we can fit bunk beds.
What to Look for in a Guardian
What I'm getting at is that people look at these concerns without the benefit of experience of knowing really what you're looking for in a guardian. If you just come in and see me you'll find out for example, what you should be worried about it fiduciary sense.
That's the number one thing that you can be concerned about. Morals, you can't force somebody to have morals that go onto your kids. We do worry about finances because you actually can hold them accountable for that.
What about physical accommodation? Your guardian doesn't necessarily have to be the person where your kids actually reside with that person.
Your guardian might say I'm going to be the guardian of your minor children. I'm going to make sure they're provided for financially because I have good fiduciary sense.
I happen to know that sister Becky and her husband have a really big house because he's done great at his dental career. They have room to take the kids and a good setup in the basement there.
We Will Help Through Difficult Questions
Thinking through these things with the benefit of practical experience will make it so these big scary confusing questions actually become a lot more manageable. I just picked one out of the air.
I picked the idea of this guardian of minor children as a potential barrier. For every barrier that you're facing in your mind right now with respect to estate planning, I can promise you that we've seen it, we've been there, and we can ask the questions to help you discover what the best solution is for you.
In no case are we going to recommend a solution that's uncomfortable to you or try to force your hand.
Estate planning always has been and always will be about putting your wishes down into legally and forcible documents.
Helping you understand what you really want and what's going to be best for your loved ones, absolutely that's something that we can help you out with and we will help you out with. We really want to. Please pick up the phone, schedule a complimentary consultation and I'd be happy to walk through some of these things.
I look forward to seeing you. Thank you. Bye.