Before Your Kids Leave For College

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Make Sure They Sign These Documents

With high school graduation coming up, many parents will soon watch their children become adults (at least in the eyes of the law) and leave home to pursue their education and career goals.

Turning 18, graduating high school, and moving out is a huge accomplishment. And it also comes with some serious responsibilities that probably aren’t at the forefront of their (or your) mind right now. Once your children become legal adults, many areas that were once under your control are now solely up to them.

Here’s the big one: Before they turned 18, you had access to their financial accounts and had the power to make all of their healthcare decisions. After they turn 18, however, you’re no longer able to do either.

Before your kids head out into the world, you should discuss and have them sign the following estate planning documents, so if they become incapacitated, you can easily access their medical records and financial accounts without having to go to court. Signing these documents will ensure that if they ever do need your help and guidance, you’ll have the legal authority to easily provide it.

Medical Power of Attorney

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Medical power of attorney allows your child to name an agent (like you), who has the power to make healthcare decisions for them if they’re incapacitated and cannot make such decisions for themselves. For example, this authority allows you to make medical decisions if your child is knocked unconscious in a car accident or falls into a coma due to an illness.

That said, while medical power of attorney would give you authority to view your child’s medical records and make treatment decisions, that authority only goes into effect if the child becomes incapacitated. This means that unless your child is incapacitated, you do not have the authority to view their medical records, which are considered private under HIPAA.

HIPAA Authorization

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Passed in 1996, the “Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act,” or HIPAA, requires health care providers and insurance companies to protect the privacy of a patient’s health records. Once your child becomes 18, no one—even parents—is legally authorized to access his or her medical records without prior written permission.

But this is easily remedied by having your child sign a HIPAA authorization that grants you the authority to access his or her medical records. This can be critical if you ever need to make informed decisions about your child’s medical care.

Living Will

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While medical power of attorney allows you to make medical decisions over your child’s ongoing healthcare if they’re incapacitated, a living will provides specific guidelines for how their medical care should be handled at the end of life.

A living will details how they want medical decisions made for them, not just who makes them. But such power only goes into effect if the child is terminally ill, which typically means they have less than six months to live.

Your child may have certain wishes for their end-of-life care, so it’s important you discuss these decisions with them and have such provisions documented in a living will. For example, a living will allows the child to decide when and if they want life support removed if they ever require it. Since these are literally life-or-death decisions, you should document them in a living will to ensure they’re properly carried out.

Durable Power of Attorney

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In the event your child becomes incapacitated, you’ll also need a durable power of attorney to access his or her financial accounts. If you do not have a signed, financial durable power of attorney, you’ll have to go to court to get access.

While medical power of attorney will authorize you to make healthcare-related decisions on their behalf, durable power of attorney will give you the authority to manage their financial and legal matters, such as paying bills, applying for Social Security benefits, and/or managing banking and other financial accounts.

If your child is getting ready to leave the nest to attend college or pursue some other life goal, you can trust us as your Personal Family Business Lawyer® to help your child articulate and legally protect their healthcare and end-of-life wishes. With us in your corner, you’ll have peace of mind that your child will be well taken care of in the event of an unforeseen accident or illness.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, a Personal Family Business Lawyer®. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Ready to Write Your Will?

Ready to Write Your Will?

A last will and testament is the most commonly thought of document when it comes to an estate plan. But, really, it’s a very small part of an integrated plan that ensures your family stays out of Court and out of conflict when something happens to you.

Don’t think you can just write your own Will and that will help your family. Instead, consider the reality that trying to do so could actually create far more trouble for them down the road. They need you to get professional support from someone who can help you look at what you own, who you love, what would happen to you, what you own, and everyone you love, if and when something happens to you.

Planning Pays Off

Planning Pays Off

Planning Pays Off: An Illustrative Look at Carrie Fisher’s Semi-Failed Estate Plan

Whether your estate is modest or movie star worthy, the value of a good estate plan, properly handled, cannot be underestimated. A comprehensive plan can mean the difference between an expensive and unnecessary “time spent in court headache” for your loved ones or an easy “in your lawyer’s office” transition that allows your family time to grieve in peace.

When a high profile celebrity passes away, we can learn a lot about the value of careful planning when using their estate plan as a case study.

Carrie Fisher is one of the celebrities whose proactive, yet faulty, planning gives us an excellent example to illustrate some key points that are important for you to understand for your family.

Even though Carrie Fisher worked with some of the best

Easy Mistakes to Avoid

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Easy Mistakes to Avoid When Passing Assets to Your Child

Setting up a trust fund for your children can ensure that the money you are leaving behind for them is taken care for them, in the way that you want. But your efforts in completing this important, yet somber task can be ruined by making one of these common mistakes.

Leaving Assets Outright to Kids

One of the worst things you can do is to do nothing, which means that whatever you are leaving behind will go to your children outright, unprotected and directly to them when they turn 18. But, worse than that, it means that a Court will decide who handles the assets for them (and whoever is named as their guardian) before they turn 18. And, it’s very likely that those assets will not be used in the way you want. On top of that, if a professional Trustee is appointed, the costs of handling the assets could drain what’s left for your kids, quickly.

Not Carefully Choosing a Trustee

Even parents who do the right thing and set up a trust to hold what’s being left behind for their kids sometimes do not think carefully enough about who the Trustee should be taking care of the assets. Do you want one trustee or a co-trustee who can ensure the funds are well managed? Choosing more than one can provide some accountability for how the funds are used.

Not Properly Protecting Assets Left In Trust

Another mistake parents make when setting up a trust is distributing the assets out of the trust direct to their children at specific ages or stages, instead of holding those assets in a flexible lifetime trust that will protect their kids’ inheritance from future divorces, creditors or accidental lawsuits.

Unfortunately, most lawyers do not understand how to use trusts to establish this kind of vital protection for the inheritance you are leaving behind. And they may even suggest to you that it’s not necessary, if you have a smaller estate. I believe that even when you are leaving behind a small amount of assets, protecting those assets and teaching your children how to grow them (instead of squander them) can be the seed of a huge turning point for many generations to come. It would be my honor to share more about this with you during a Family Wealth Planning Session.

Neglecting to Fix Beneficiary Designations

Lastly, make sure your insurance policies are directed to your trust and not directly to your children. This is a huge mistake we repeatedly see. Naming minors or even young adults as the beneficiaries of insurance and retirement accounts is a sure-fire way to ensure they are not used in the way you want and unnecessarily get stuck in a court process, which you can easily avoid.

A trust can both provide for and protect your children after your death, as well as ensure you are cared for the way you want in the event of your incapacity. If you’re ready to set up an effective plan for your family’s well-being and care, start by sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Business Lawyer, we’ll help you protect, preserve and enhance what matters most.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, a Personal Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office at 713-489-5900 today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

It's Time to Audit Your Insurance Policies

 Lyric Centre Building in the Background

Lyric Centre Building in the Background

It's Time to Audit Your Insurance Policies

After unexpected disasters like Harvey occur, it's smart to take a step back and make sure you have the right kind of insurance and the right amount of insurance. And as your family size grows, there is lots to prepare for and consider. Welcoming a new family member can be a joyous occasion, and requires some planning.

Adding a new family member can affect your finances and create a need for more protections. Reassessing your insurance coverage might not be at the top of your list, but policies should always be audited when changes in your family life occur to ensure your coverage will adequately protect your growing family.

Remember this: insurance says I love you to the people you love.

Life Insurance

It’s always a good idea to increase your life insurance coverage whenever you add a new member to your family. Life insurance can provide your loved ones with valuable financial support when you die. Determining the right type and amount of life insurance coverage takes assessing your current financial standing and the future financial needs of your family.

As your family grows, future financial needs will as well. Think long-term, take into account inflation and any expected big-ticket investments, such as education over the years, plus the needs of a single parent or named legal guardians to care for your children, if you pass on while they are unable to care for themselves.

And always remember that you can name legal guardians to care for the education and health of your children, while directing your insurance to pay to a trust for the benefit of your children, with a separate trustee named to care for the finances. This Trustee would work together with your named guardians to make decisions in the best interest of your children, until they could receive and control the inheritance themselves.

Homeowner’s Insurance

For some, a bigger family means a bigger home. If you are purchasing a new home or building a new addition to your current home, it’s a good idea to reevaluate your homeowner’s policy. Key factors to look for include whether your existing policy has sufficient coverage to repair or replace your home and whether your policy would replace your belongings if necessary. Also, consider adding riders to your existing policy to cover things like damage from natural disasters, which standard policies typically don’t cover. 

Auto Insurance

You might need a larger or safer car to meet the needs of your growing family. A new car can affect your auto insurance rates, so check with your provider before you make a new purchase to see how your rates may change. Also, some auto insurance providers offer policy discounts for married couples, so talk to your agent about the discounts you may qualify for.

Parents want to protect their family from the unexpected. Insurance can help provide this protection, but you need to tailor your policies to meet your family’s needs. Periodically review your insurance policies as your family grows to make sure you have optimal protection for what you value most. And, use us to support you.

If you’re growing your family and want to protect your loved ones, consider sitting down with us. As your Personal Family Business Lawyer, we can walk you through creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you, and how you want to protect your growing family.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Personal Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session, during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today at 713-489-5900 to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Avoid Business Litigation With These 6 Steps

Avoid Business Litigation With These 6 Steps

Business litigation is an expensive use of both time and money and should be avoided whenever possible. Even the most favorable of settlements can cost a business months—if not years—of productivity and focus.

To avoid the high costs of litigation, follow these six preventive steps:

1.       Don’t skimp on contracts. 

Instead of spending a fortune on legal fees when facing a lawsuit in the future, make a smaller, smarter investment in solid contracts and getting clear on agreements up front, in the present.

2.       Audit your insurance policies.

Ensure that you have the breadth and depth of coverage your business needs to be protected. Consult with us to help youdecipher how to protect your business best using the right kinds and types of insurance, so that if a lawsuit does happen, you aren’t footing the legal bill.

3.       Keep good records.

Simply producing key documents can easily thwart expensive, time consuming lawsuits. Keeping excellent records now can help save money on future litigation. Ask about our LIFT records binder to support you in keeping the right records, and letting go of the rest.

4.       Develop and implement good practices.

Hire, train, and manage your staff with processes and procedures that mitigate the risk of future lawsuits.

5.        Be proactive. 

Small disputes can quickly turn into full-blown suits. Deal with minor disputes early to avoid a trip to court. Contact us at the first rumblings of a disgruntled client, vendor or partner.

6.        Only enter into win/win agreements. 

Commit to caring as much about the outcome with the person you are contracting with as you do about the outcome for yourself. We can help you with that when we are working with you to strategize the documentation of your agreements. 

With careful preventative planning, you can safeguard your business against unnecessary and costly litigation.

Protecting your business and your time is a strategic and valuable practice. If you’re ready to take the next step toward preventative planning, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Family Business Lawyer, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including how to safeguard your business against legal risks. We look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Creative Family Business Lawyer. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us at 713-489-5900 today to schedule.

Too Young?

Is Your Family “Too Young” to Need an Estate Plan? 

Young families face different estate planning needs and challenges than those who have had a long life behind them. While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established!

But here’s the thing … if you have children, or anyone else you care about, you may not have an “estate.” However, you do need estate planning, if you want to ensure your loved ones wouldn’t be stuck in Court and/or conflict, if anything happens to you.

Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:

The Care and Custody of Your Children

If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are only ever in the care of people you want and choose, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.

Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your child is not enough. You need to legally document your choice. And, naming just one person or a couple won’t cover it either. Name at least 3 options, in case back-ups are needed.

Also, ensure that you have not just named legal guardians in your Will, for the long-term.

If something happens to you and your child is home with a babysitter, or at school, you want to also name local people, friends or family, who would immediately be able to be called upon by authorities. And, those people need to have legal documentation on hand to step in and make immediate, short-term decisions for your little children.

We recommend a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® to ensure their are no gaps, for even a minute, in the care of the people you love most.

The Management of Your Children’s Inheritance

Remember, when you die, the assets left to your minor children will need to be managed by someone at least until they turn eighteen. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and appoints “professionals” to take over the role, which can cost your children their entire inheritance.

And, it’s totally unnecessary. With just a bit of prior planning, you can keep your loved ones out of the Court system entirely and give total control to the people you know, love and trust.

The Authority to Make Decisions for You

Finally, no matter what your age is, or how big or small your assets are, you want to put in place the documentation that appoints the people you would want making decisions for you, if you cannot make your own decisions.

Once again, the focus here is on keeping the people you love out of Court during what would be a hugely stressful time for them.

Estate planning is a key part of growing up, and showing up for the people you love. So, yes, you may be a young family, but once you’ve become a family, you’re not too young to plan well to make things as easy as possible for the people you love.

As your Personal Family Business Lawyer, we will help you make the very best financial and legal decisions throughout your life, and for the beyond. Far from being a morbid task, estate planning can give your young family the peace of mind, confidence, and security you desire when it comes to the future well being of all members of your family.

This article is a service of David W, Weygandt, Personal Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Incorporate Family Values

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How to Incorporate Family Values in Your Estate Planning

Baby boomers know money isn’t the only important aspect of estate planning.

A 2012 study released by the Allianz Life Insurance, Co. showed baby boomers wanted to leave their family more than just financial assets. Researchers found baby boomers identified family values as some of the most important things to pass down to heirs.

In 2012’s economic climate, it’s no wonder family values imparted through stories, life lessons, and family possessions were at the top of the list. In an economic downturn, financial inheritances are more tenuous, unlike the abiding worth of family values. Thus, family values, tax-free of course, made the top of the list in importance.

But what is interesting is a similar study released by Allianz in 2005 which showed family values were also among the most important legacies boomers wanted to leave behind, even though the economy was more robust.

What these studies demonstrate is the enduring importance of family values, morals and meaningful possessions as part of a carefully crafted estate plan, regardless of the economic climate.

Do you have family values you wish to pass on? Of course you do. And yet you likely haven’t taken action to ensure the legacy you are leaving is the one you really want to leave behind.

Including family values in your estate plan can be easy, when it’s built into the process, though that is not the norm with most estate planning lawyers or with the DIY legal document services. Consider including written memoirs, video or audio recordings of family stories in your estate plan. These are the valuables most likely to be lost after your death. While your finances will be managed according to estate law, intangible values and lessons have no protection and are most often lost when you die.

Could you imagine how valuable it would be to hear your family history directly in the words of your grandparents, great-grandparents or even earlier generations right now?

If you want to pass down a truly holistic legacy, one that manages and preserves both your finances and your family values, start by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. As your Personal Family Business Lawyer, we will guide you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects and preserves your family’s heritage. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you and what you want to leave behind.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Personal Family Business Lawyer. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule at 713-489-5900.

Is Your Work Life Balanced?

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What to do When Your Business is Out of Bounds and Work Starts to Take Over Your Personal Life

In the digital era when you can be reached 24/7 through smartphones and social media, it can be more difficult to set firm boundaries that support your wellbeing and the productivity of your business. When you find yourself frustrated, resentful, or feeling obligated to respond to tweets, FB messages and emails at all hours of the day and night because you “have to”, it’s time to reassess and redefine your business boundaries.

The first step is to get clear about the difference between “have to” and “want to”, considering the possibility that a lot of the time you are spending responding to emails, tweets and Facebook messages during “off” hours are happening because you are choosing to do so, not because you have to do so. So, first and foremost, get clear on your motivations.

Are you responding to clients after hours because you are avoiding something in your personal life? Or, are you addicted to the high of being needed? Or maybe you just like it and it’s not something you have to do at all, but you really do want to be that available.

Next, if you really do want to create more boundaries between your work life and your personal life, it can be as simple as making the choice.

Decide to limit the hours when you respond to emails, calls, messages, and social media posts. Being connected via smartphone all day doesn’t mean you have to maintain a consistent level of responsiveness.

Set up regular business hours in which you will respond to messages, and stick to it. Enforce those hours by including them in business contracts, too. Communication is the key. When you communicate your boundaries to clients and team members, you’ll find that people are happy to respect your boundaries.

Along those lines, don’t make yourself fully available all day long. Don’t use your personal cell phone for business, and always keep your business lines and accounts separate from your personal ones. Take responsibility for when people can contact you, and send business calls to voicemail after hours. Better yet, get an assistant who can handle your phones and accounts so you can focus on running your business, not responding to messages.

And, lastly, make sure you respect the value of your time. Giving away services, indulging prospects in long consultations, and handing out free and discounted services to personal contacts all discount your value. Not only can this leave you feeling unappreciated at the end of the day, but it also sets up the expectation that you are overly generous with your time.

Time is money, as any business owner will tell you, so make sure you are being compensated fairly for your time. Again, skillfully crafted contracts can help you communicate and enforce this particular boundary.

If you are unclear about the value of your time, and how to create boundaries around your time, ask us about our Money Map Life and Income planning process so we can help you with this. Protecting your time and value as an entrepreneur is important. Setting clear boundaries and knowing when to enforce them can help you keep your sanity while running a business. But to do this, you need to have measures in place to ensure those who do business with you have clear and reasonable expectations. If you want to take that step toward setting clear business boundaries, start by sitting down with us.

As your Creative Family Business Lawyer, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face everyday as a leader in business, including when and how to set boundaries. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

Ten Common Money Pits Even Brilliant Entrepreneurs Fall Into

Ten Common Money Pits Even Brilliant Entrepreneurs Fall Into  

If you’re relying on your top line to grow your wealth, you could be missing out on easy opportunities to save money and improve profits, independent of your revenue.

Many entrepreneurs waste precious time and money by falling prey to these common mistakes. However, there is no need to sacrifice, work harder, or take on new financial risks when they can be easily avoided.

1. Not Monitoring Your Credit Score

Discrepancies in your credit score can cost you thousands in interest rates and premiums. Monitor your credit report every six months for accuracy.

2. Scrimping on Productive Expenses

Differentiate between wasteful consumption expenses and rainmaking expenses that can pay big returns—you can't afford to scrimp on those.

3. Relying on Investment Advisors

Commissioned advisors want to keep your assets under their control. Stay conscious of this bias. And, consider having us, as your objective trusted advisor who is not paid a commission, review all investments before you make them.

4. Reactive Tax Planning

During tax season, your accountant’s focus is on filing returns, not strategizing. Meet off-season at least once to prepare a proactive—not reactive—tax strategy. And always get projections before the end of the year so you can strategize end of year tax decisions.

5. Using the Wrong Business Structure

Review your business structure with an attorney every three years to ensure your structure is still advantageous.

6. Monthly Payments on Multiple Loans

Refinancing or restructuring your loans could save interest and potentially even taxes. Pay off your least efficient loan first, and you could qualify for lower interest rates on the rest.

7. Blind Investing

Invest in what you know. You—not a commissioned advisor—know what’s best for your business. And that requires you to be tracking your financials at least monthly, and likely weekly, to be making wise choices consistently.

8. Sharing Profits

Profit sharing with employees solely for tax purposes is like giving the IRS control of your money. Don’t spend money to save money. But, do invest money to create more of what you want. So consider profit sharing to motivate long-term growth and legacy of your business.

9. Funding 401(k)s

Your contributions are tax-deferred, but you have to pay those taxes at some point. Because taxes are expected to go up, you’ll end up paying more to the IRS.

10. Losing Passion

Losing the passion you have for your business means lost productivity—easy to do when you're bogged down with daily details and decisions. Take the time to be proactive about your legal, insurance, financial, and tax planning so you can fuel the passion that brought you to this business in the first place.

If you’re ready to be proactive about the financial success of your business, begin by sitting down with us. As your Creative Family Business Lawyer, we are here to help you implement legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems that will free up your time and money, so you can focus on what matters.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Creative Family Business Lawyer. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule at 713-489-5900.

Leaving Without a Plan

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Prince Didn't Leave a Will & Here's Why You Should

Even after death, celebrities are highly publicized for their mistakes, many of which we make ourselves. Last year, superstar musician Prince died suddenly, leaving no will, and the management of his substantial estate fraught with legal complications and added costs.

It’s easy to assume that the wealthiest among us have all their ducks in a row, but it’s hard to judge someone—even a celebrity—for neglecting something like the creation of a will. Until you stop to seriously think about what will happen when you die, creating a will can seem like an unnecessary and morbid task, certainly not something you casually check off your to-do list. Nevertheless, the importance of having a will simply cannot be stressed enough. Below are just a few of the reasons why everyone should have a will, no matter their wealth, age or health.

You can name the person you want to manage your estate in your will.You will get to choose someone you trust and make sure they have all the knowledge they need to ensure your wishes for your estate are carried out.

You can decide who your beneficiaries will be. You can also disinherit those who would normally stand to inherit from your estate if you choose. Your wealth and possessions are yours; a will provides a legally enforceable way to ensure they go to the right people.

You can ensure your minor children will be raised by the people you want, for the long-term. If you have minor children, you should name a legal guardian and include provisions for their care in your will. But, don’t rely on a will alone because it won’t address the immediate care of your children if something happens to you, it won’t provide for your children’s care in the event of incapacity and it won’t ensure someone you would never want to raise your kids could not.

You can leave gifts and donations to your favorite charities or people you love beyond your legal family. Without a will, your estate would pass to the people designated to receive it under the law, and that may not be who you would want to receive everything you own. Creating a will ensures you get to choose who gets what.

Important as they are, a will can only do so much. For example, a will does not keep your family out of court.

And, a will does not ensure your kids will never be taken out of your home, if something happens to you.

And, a will does not keep your family out of conflict.

A will is only one part of a comprehensive estate plan that will protect and enforce your wishes when you die.

If you are ready to take the right steps toward making informed, empowered and educated decisions for the legal and financial future of the people you love, start by sitting down with a Family Business Lawyer.

As your Family Business Lawyer, we will walk you step-by-step through the creation of an estate plan that will protect what you value most. Our Family Wealth Planning Session™ helps you protect and preserve your wealth for future generations. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you and what you want to leave behind.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Commit to Your Estate Plan Before Committing to a Trip Away

If you are planning a vacation, you probably have a lot to prepare for before you get away. Between structuring your itinerary, getting plane tickets or train reservations, and booking hotels, creating an estate plan is probably not something you thought to add to your to-do list. But, think again and consider that now is the time to take action on this vital piece of your legal life planning.

If something were to happen to you while away on vacation, whether an illness, injury or even death, your family would be stuck with a huge mess to clean up.

The Barber family of Southern California is an unfortunate example. Mom, dad and three kids went on a roadtrip to Arizona where they were in a terrible accident. Mom and dad died, and their three boys were injured, but alive.

It took the authorities a couple of days to locate any relatives, during which time the boys were in the protective custody of strangers. A fate no parent ever wants for their children in a time of tragedy, fear and grief.

The family member that was located first was a sister of the mom and she promptly took the boys back to her home and didn’t let any other family members see the boys.

It took many hundreds of thousands of dollars and at least 7 lawyers to sort out the family fighting that ensued over both the boys and the assets left behind by the Barber parents.

And it all could have been easily avoided with a small amount of planning in advance.

Making the commitment now to create a comprehensive estate plan will ensure your loved ones will not be stuck in court or conflict, if the unexpected happens while you are on vacation.

At least 8 weeks before you leave, schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with us. During that Session, we’ll get you more financially organized than you’ve ever been before (ensuring none of your assets are lost if you are injured on your vacation) and guide you to make informed, empowered and educated choices for yourself and the people you love most. If you are leaving sooner than 8 weeks from now, call our office and let us know you need a rush Family Wealth Planning Session and we will see what we can do to get you started.

Whatever you do, do not just think a standard set of estate planning documents will serve you or your family. What you and your family need is a plan that properly addresses the care of your children (if you have minors at home), your assets and the parts of your life that go beyond just the money. We can explain more during the Family Wealth Planning Session.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

Estate Planning Essentials for Parents

A comprehensive estate plan can protect the things that matter most. For many, this means their property and their family.

Including provisions for the care of your children in your estate plan is essential for peace of mind. But many parents struggle with including such provisions as naming a legal guardian for their child in their plan. Indeed, even the fictional parents in the popular television sitcom Modern Family struggled with this issue. Jay and Gloria, his new and much younger wife, agonized and argued about who they should name as a legal guardian for their children.

They knew that without proper planning their children were left at risk if something ever happened to them. Without properly naming guardians in a legal document, a judge would make the decision for them. Not ideal, under any circumstances.

When naming a legal guardian for your minor children, there are many factors to consider, such as whether the guardian has similar values to yours or can provide a welcoming home environment. But the toughest decisions are often the most important. Consider the outcome if you died without having legal protections for your children in place. Your children could be subject to conflict between relatives or they could be raised by someone you would never want, or in a way you wouldn’t want. They could even temporarily be taken into the care of strangers.

Identifying and naming a legal guardian for your children in your estate plan is a difficult and important task. Don’t put off naming a legal guardian for your child. While thinking about what will happen to your child if you die is difficult even for fictional parents, your kids deserve the protection and you deserve the peace of mind that a legal guardian can provide.

Unfortunately, even if you have made the hard decisions and worked with a lawyer to name legal guardians in a Will, your kids could still be at risk, because that would not take into account what happens if you become incapacitated, or if your named guardians all live far from your home, and it wouldn’t protect against anyone who may challenge your decisions. The only way to ensure your kids are raised by the people you want, in the way you want, never taken into the care of strangers (even temporarily) and that your kids would never be raised by anyone you wouldn’t want, is by creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan, which only a select few lawyers, like us, are trained to prepare.

If you are ready to take that step, start by sitting down with us. As your Family Business Lawyer, we can walk you step by step through creating a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan that not only names a legal guardian for your child in your Will, but also ensures your kids care is fully provided for, in the short-term and the long-term, and in the event of your incapacity.

Working with a trusted Family Business Lawyer will ensure your entire family is protected and cared for no matter what.

This article is a service of David W. Weygandt, Family Business Lawyer. We don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love. That's why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this $750 session at no charge.

(Re)Defining Family

Estate Planning for the Post-Nuclear Family

Blended families, unmarried couples, assistive reproductive technology (ART) and same-sex unions and marriages challenge the traditional concept of “family” as it’s been known for legal purposes up until now.

Significant changes in the way we define family culturally means more families are left without the valuable protection they need, in the event of a death or incapacity of a loved one.

As these legal definitions and our personal situations expand, so do the priorities of the modern estate plan.

No longer is estate planning just for the wealthy, who wish to save money on their taxes; it’s for all of us who want to ensure our legal system recognizes the one’s we love.

For example, if you are in a life partnership (or more than one), married in the eyes of your community, but not married in the eyes of the law, your partner would have no legal right to see you or make decisions on your behalf, if you were hospitalized.

Even if you are married, your spouse or partner would not be able to access your financial accounts, without court intervention, without proper legal planning in advance. And, if you are not married, the Court is unlikely to give a non-legal spouse access and would instead appoint a professional fiduciary before allowing your unmarried partner access.

If you are part of a blended family (meaning one or both spouses have children from a prior relationship) or have children who aren’t biologically both yours and your spouse’s (or non-spouse partner), you need to include provisions in your estate plan that clearly define the inheritance rights of all children, biological or not.

It is vitally important that you clearly define any legally established relationships between you, your spouse (or non-spouse partners and loved ones) and your children, biological or otherwise, to ensure your wishes will be carried out in the event of your death or incapacity. If you do not do this, your kids could end up in the care of someone you would never want and taken out of the home of the non-biological parent they are living with.

Whatever your family’s configuration may be, estate planning is your chance to safeguard the people you love and your assets on your own terms and according to your own definitions. With the uncertainty of the current political and social climate, developing a carefully crafted plan tailored to your family’s needs is more important than ever.

If you need help crafting estate-planning instruments that adequately protect your family and your wealth but are flexible enough to be relevant as our legal definitions of family change, start by coming in to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session. As your Family Business Lawyer, we can guide you in creating a comprehensive estate plan that protects and preserves your family’s values, as well as your assets. Before the session, we’ll send you a Family Wealth Inventory and Assessment to complete that will get you thinking about what you own, what matters most to you and what you want to leave behind and ensure that none of your assets are lost to the Court or government processes that don’t really serve your desires.