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Estate Planning In Plain English

Imagine not knowing that your fiancé died yesterday in ICU.  This is no hypothetical.  In the age of coronavirus when tales of heartbreak abound, what happened to my colleague’s client is uniquely shocking.

Her fiancé was admitted to hospital due to complications from Covid-19 and was later transferred to the ICU.  The hospital refused to provide information about the fiance’s condition, although they did eventually tell her that he had left ICU.  Alas her sense of relief was short lived.  She found out the next day that her fiancé had been transferred from ICU to the morgue.

HIPAA privacy laws, advance health care directives, powers of attorney, revocable trusts.  Not so long ago, these estate planning tools felt to many to be almost other worldly, an intimidating suite of documents that were an expensive luxury designed to provide peace of mind to those who have an abundance of resources.  The coronavirus outbreak has brought into sharp relief how laws designed to protect us can have unintended consequences and cause unnecessary pain and suffering, emotional or otherwise, whether during a pandemic or not.

But isn’t estate planning just for the rich? Or the very old?  Why should you care about estate planning?

Have you ever wondered about who would look after your kids if you became hospitalized, or worse? What if you’re no longer able to handle your own finances, either temporarily because of some kind of injury or illness, or permanently?  Who would step in to make sure that your bills continue to get paid, that your kids continue to be provided for financially?  And what if you were lying in hospital, unable to make your own medical decisions.  Who would you want making those decisions for you?  What kind of decisions would you want made?  Would you want to be kept alive artificially, even if doctors have said there is no prospect of a recovery to a “normal” life?  And if something happens to you before your kids turn 18, would you want them to receive their entire inheritance at the age of 18, or do you want to protect that inheritance from creditors and predators?

If you have concerns about any of these questions, you are in the right place, no matter how rich or how old you are. This e-book breaks down everything you need to know about estate planning into bite sized chunks.  Instead of writing a 300 page tome for you to use as a door stop or read if you have trouble sleeping, this book uses stories to illustrate the key issues that every parent, every person, needs to know.

This book covers: the difference between wills and trusts; why you need an advance health care directive; why nominating long term guardians in a will may not be enough to keep your children out of foster care if something happens to you; recent changes to the laws governing retirement accounts and how those impact you; and how to establish trusts to protect your assets from creditors, bankruptcy, lawsuits and divorce.

If you have been wondering whether you should try to create your estate plan online, this book highlights who should and should not consider using online software.  We also cover some of the risks of attempting to create your estate plan online, and the ways that approach can leave your family at risk.

Finally, welcome!  And congratulations on taking the first step towards getting a plan in place that will protect your family and give you peace of mind.  Knowledge is power, and this book is designed to empower you to take action and avoid the kind of conflict and trauma that families inevitably experience when there is no planning, or defective planning, in place,

About Daniel Weiner

Daniel Weiner is a US and UK licensed attorney, based in San Diego, who provides trust administration and estate planning services to families and individuals across California. Dan guides his clients through the often confusing maze of financial and legal decisions to create plans that ensure the well-being of their families and the accomplishment of cherished family goals.


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