Estate Planning in Real Terms

When researching information about estate planning attorneys in California, you’ll come across many dry articles full of legal terms, discussions of court processes, or perhaps how the state may take assets. Today, instead of covering at a particular area of estate planning, let’s take a few minutes to look at one person’s story that paints a vivid picture. Let me introduce you to Henry Smith.

Who Is Henry Smith?

Henry Smith grew up the son of a coal miner. Instead of following in his family’s tradition, he set out to create a new life. Henry Smith was the first in his family to graduate from college. He took a job as a financial advisor and made some great investments of his own. Eventually, he owned and operated multiple businesses involving oil refineries and real estate. Henry married twice, had six children, and fifteen grandchildren. One of six siblings himself, Henry has quite the extended family. He enjoys big celebrations during holidays, donates money to charities, and makes sure his kids, grandkids, and especially his wife, Lois, want for nothing.

Henry Smith died this week. Henry didn’t have a will or an estate plan. Do you?

If you stopped for a moment and thought, “Do I?”, “Should I?”, “when the kids were first born but it’s pretty old now” or “I had one with my first spouse, but have I updated it for my second?”, then you need to scroll to the end of this article and give us a call.

What Henry Did

Henry Smith was a smart man. He fulfilled his American Dream by becoming a successful businessman. Although his marriage to his first wife ended in divorce, he always took care of her and his children. Henry was fortunate to be able to help his extended family. Lois, his second wife, was a great mother and homemaker. Henry Smith was very proud of himself for his ability to provide for his family. His hard work was rewarded and he could take care of those he loved.

When Henry was told he contracted Covid-19, he was in shock, but confident he could beat it. After all, he may be old but he walks every morning, eats well. When he was quarantined in the hospital and not allowed to see his Lois or his kids, he thought if the worst happened, the life he built for his family would provide them with everything they needed. Henry Smith was wrong.

After Henry’s death, lots of relatives – cousins, aunts, uncles, brother, sister, spouses, and children came for their share. Henry’s first wife believed because she was married to him first, she and her children should inherit the bulk of his estate, and hired an attorney. Henry’s brothers and sisters were worried that they would no longer be taken care of and banded together to hire their own attorney. Henry’s children assumed everything would be split between them and are now fighting and hiring their own attorneys. Lois is very confused by all this and doesn’t understand she could lose the life that she knows. This has all occurred during the past few months, is only just getting started.

A huge chunk of Henry’s estate will be lost to legal costs in the end.

You don’t need to be a multi-millionaire to create an estate plan. You just need to want to take care of the people you love.

What Henry Should Have Done

Henry Smith had a big house, a few time-shares, some stocks, bonds, savings accounts, and of course, his businesses. Henry should have contacted an estate attorney and set up an estate plan the moment he married his first wife. When his children began to arrive, Henry should have updated his plan. When Henry divorced, he should have updated his plan. And when Henry remarried and had more children, he should have updated his plan. Had he called an estate planning attorney in Santa Clarita, California, they could have explained what an estate plan can do, protect, and handle.

  • Appoint a health care agent in the event you cannot make decisions about your own health needs.
  • Financial Preferences
  • Distribution of Assets
  • Beneficiary Selection
  • Draft an Estate Distribution Document
  • Appoint an Executer of the Estate
  • Stay out of court have all aspects be handled privately, according to Henry’s and his wife’s wishes

What Can you Do?

If you have a house, that is an asset, and you have an estate. If you have a savings and checking account, you have an estate. If you are unable to make your own medical decisions because you are unconscious on a respirator, you need a health agent in a medical power of attorney who understands your wishes. Henry Smith had a plan in his head, but never legally designed or implemented his desires. Don’t let this happen to your family. Contact an experienced estate planning attorney in Santa Clarita, California at the Law Offices of Andrew Cohen at 661-481-0100 or click here.

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