They’re Not Kids Anymore! Navigating Your Child’s Transition Into Adulthood

When your child turns 18, they’re legally considered an adult even though they have a lot more growing to do (though they may not think so!). Just like any other adult, their health and financial information is protected by privacy laws. But unlike any other adult, that’s still your child and you want to be there to support them in a crisis. Unless you’ve planned ahead you won’t be able to step in and support your child.

As an estate planning attorney, I often see families caught off guard when I tell them this. Like those families, you may also assume that as a parent, you’ll always have a say in your child’s medical and financial matters. But you don’t. Under the law, you have just as much access to their medical and financial information as you do for Joe down the street (which is none).

The good news is that with proper planning, you can help your newly-minted adult child navigate this transition and ensure you’re able to step in if something happens. Here I’ll share 3 strategies to help you and your child make the transition to their adulthood as easy as possible.

Strategy 1: Education

The first strategy for a successful transition to adulthood is education. At my firm, I start every client relationship with education. That’s because I believe that education equals empowerment, which supports you to make the right choices for yourself and your family. Young adults also need to be empowered through education. The more you can teach your child about their new financial and legal responsibilities, the more empowered they’ll be to make the right decisions.

If you haven’t already started talking with them about legal and financial matters, now is the time s. Start with a kind of budgeting we call “money mapping”. Explain the importance of tracking their income and expenses, setting financial goals, and investing wisely, both now and for the future.

Help them understand the basics of banking, such as how to use checking and savings accounts, the benefits of maintaining a good credit score, and assist them in setting up their own bank account if they don’t already have one. Explain how to avoid overdrafts and the significance of keeping track of their balance. Introduce them to how to access credit, and use it responsibly. Explain how credit cards work, the importance of paying off balances in full each month, when it’s okay to carry a balance, and the long-term benefits of building a positive credit history.

And let’s not forget your child’s new tax obligations. Teach them how to file taxes, what documents they need, and how to understand their W-2 forms, or what it means to be a 1099. Explain the importance of keeping accurate records and how to navigate basic tax software.

Health care is another critical area where your child needs education. Let your child know that you can’t make medical decisions for them and you won’t have access to their health records anymore – unless they give it to you. I’ll cover which essential documents they need in a minute, but first, let’s talk about the importance of communication in helping them document their wishes properly.

Strategy 2: Encourage Communication

Adulthood often involves having difficult conversations (as if I’m telling you anything you don’t know!). Two of those conversations to have with your child have to do with their healthcare and financial decisions in the event of an emergency.

First off, I want to say that even thinking about your child being in an emergency medical situation is hard to think about, much less talk about. And it will probably be much harder for you than it will be for them. It’s OK. Take a deep breath. You can do this!

After you’ve breathed your way to calm, have an open conversation about what your child would want to happen in various medical scenarios. If they became incapacitated, who would they want to make decisions on their behalf? Both parents or one of you first, then the other? Or do they want anyone else involved in the medical decisions, if they cannot make them on their own. Be open to the possibilities that they have other people in their life that they may want to include, and be glad they are telling you about it, if that’s the case.

Do they know what a ventilator is and whether they’d want one if it became an issue? What about a feeding or hydration tube? And what about resuscitation? It’s necessary to talk about these things so your child’s wishes are honored. Who would they want to have access to them, in case of an accident or an illness? Once you know the answers to these questions, you can help your child create a health care directive and medical power of attorney.

Have the same conversations about finances. Do you know which and how many financial accounts they have? If they’re in college, how will you access their account to stop tuition payments or housing payments if necessary? Will you be able to access their checking account if bills need to be paid? Your child may be reluctant to discuss these matters with you, but assure them you have no intent to violate their autonomy. You simply want to be there for them, if needed.

Strategy 3: Legal Planning

Once you and your child have had these difficult conversations, emphasize the need to get a legal plan in place so their wishes are documented and honored. At the least, your adult child’s legal plan should include the following documents:

Health Care Proxy and Advance Directive. A health care proxy grants someone, usually you, the authority to make medical decisions on your child’s behalf if they cannot. An Advance Directive complements this by outlining their medical treatment preferences in various scenarios, ensuring their wishes are respected even when they can’t voice them.

HIPAA Authorization. The HIPAA Authorization is equally important. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) is designed to protect patient privacy, but it can also prevent you from accessing your child’s medical information without their explicit permission. By signing a HIPAA Authorization, your child can ensure that you can speak with doctors and receive updates on their condition.

Living Will. A Living Will is another important document to consider. This outlines your child’s wishes regarding end-of-life care, such as whether they want to receive life-sustaining treatments. Having these preferences documented can provide clarity and guidance during difficult times, ensuring that their wishes are honored.

Power of Attorney. A Power of Attorney allows your adult child to appoint someone (again, usually you) to manage their financial affairs if they are unable to do so. This can include everything from paying bills to managing bank accounts and handling investments. Without this document, you might find it difficult to step in and help when needed.

It may also be important for your adult child to have a plan in place for what happens after death. If that’s the case, they need a will or trust. Reach out to me and I can educate you and your child on whether post-death planning is needed at this stage in your child’s life.

Finally, life circumstances will change, so let your child know it’s important to review their documents regularly and update them as needed. Encourage your young adult to revisit their decisions periodically, especially if they experience significant life changes such as getting married, moving to a new state, or starting a new job. At my firm, constant contact is part of our process so our clients never have to remember on their own to update their plan. We do the remembering for you.

Your Next Step

Now that you are armed with 3 strategies for navigating your child’s transition into adulthood, your next step is to book an appointment with our firm so we can support you to have these conversations, and to get your child’s legal plan in place.

Now, before you go thinking that you don’t need an attorney and can use a cheap online tool, or even AI, I encourage you to think about what’s at stake. Your child’s health and well-being. Your child’s growth. The opportunity to teach your child about how to prioritize the things that matter most. When I work with you, one of the best things I can do is to get to know your children as they become adults. Ideally, it will be me (or my firm) that they’ll turn to for guidance throughout their lifetime, and to be there for them, when you can’t be. No cheap legal plan can do that.

The Support You and Your Child Need

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we know that navigating the transition to adulthood can be challenging, both for you and your child. Understanding the legal changes that come with turning 18 and using the 3 legal documents (and the conversations that go with them) in this article can help you provide the support and guidance your child needs. But you don’t need to navigate this transition alone. We can educate you and your child about their new legal responsibilities, support you to have the hard conversations, and help your child put a legal plan in place.

Contact us to learn how our Life & Legacy Planning process supports your family to make the very best decisions about the things that matter most. Click HERE to schedule a 15-minute conversation.

Father Knows Best: Avoiding Common Estate Planning Pitfalls

If you’re a father, you’ve always strived to provide the best for your family, ensuring their well-being and securing their future. However, even the most well-intentioned plans can falter if you overlook the complexities of estate planning. So this Father’s Day, let’s celebrate all of you dads and explore some common pitfalls that fathers often encounter, then offer practical strategies to navigate them successfully.

Heads up before we dive in; I’ll provide some stories below that illustrate what happens when a dad hasn’t created an estate plan or hasn’t updated it over time. The names of the people below are made up, but the scenarios I’ll describe are common.

Pitfall No. 1: Procrastination

If you’re a father, the weight of responsibility for your family’s well-being often rests heavily on your shoulders. However, even the most well-intentioned plans can fail if you overlook the complexities of estate planning. One of the most significant pitfalls is procrastination, or postponing the process under the assumption that you have ample time or that your assets are currently too modest to warrant formal planning. But the truth is that estate planning is crucial for individuals of all ages and asset levels! Unexpected events can occur at any time, leaving your loved ones in a bad situation if you haven’t properly documented your wishes.

Take for example, John, a 45-year-old father of three, who put off creating a will, thinking he had decades ahead of him. You can’t really blame him, can you? Many of us are in the same boat. However, he passed away tragically and unexpectedly, leaving his family to deal with his affairs in the court process called probate. The probate process was lengthy, and his assets were frozen and unavailable for his kids until the court process played out. In addition, probate drained his assets, so there wasn’t as much to leave his kids in the end.

I doubt this is what John would have wanted.

So dads, to avoid the procrastination trap, it’s essential to approach estate planning with a sense of urgency. Start the process as soon as possible, and review your plan regularly to ensure it remains aligned with your evolving circumstances and family dynamics (keep reading for more information on how I can help!).

Pitfall No. 2: Failing to Update Your Plan Over Time

This brings us to another pitfall: failing to update your plan after significant life events, such as marriages, divorces, births, or deaths. Life is inherently dynamic, and your estate plan should reflect those changes. Your plan should reflect your life as closely as possible, otherwise it could become ineffective or even invalid. And if that happens, you end up like John, even if you already have an estate plan.

Updating your estate plan over time is crucial. So make a habit of reviewing your plan at least every three years, preferably annually, or whenever a major life event occurs. When you work with me, I will help you ensure your plan accurately reflects your current wishes and aligns with any changes in state or federal laws.

Pitfall No. 3: Not Communicating With Loved Ones

Contrary to common belief, estate planning is not solely about legal documents, such as a Will, Trust or Power of Attorney. Documents are merely the byproduct of good estate planning. The real power of estate planning is in having open and honest communication with your loved ones. However, many fathers make the mistake of keeping their estate plans a closely guarded secret, leaving their families in the dark about their intentions and wishes. This lack of transparency can breed misunderstandings, conflicts, and resentments that can undermine the effectiveness of your plan and strain family relationships.

Let’s look at David’s story for a greater understanding. David, a successful business owner and loving father, always assumed his oldest son would take over the family business after his passing. So David’s estate plan included a provision wherein his oldest son inherited the business. When David died, however, his son revealed that he had different career aspirations and didn’t want to run the business. This led to family conflict – because David didn’t have a “Plan B” in his estate plan.

As a result, the family had to go to probate court, spending lots of time, energy, attention, and money, to get the business transferred to the one family member who wanted to run the business. Had David discussed his wishes openly, the family could have addressed their concerns together and arrived at a mutually agreeable solution that would have saved them the unnecessary hassle of probate court.

So what can you learn from David’s story? Share your wishes with your family members, explain your reasoning, and address any concerns they may have. This open dialogue can foster a deeper understanding and strengthen the bond between you and your loved ones. It also allows your loved ones to provide valuable insights and perspectives that can help refine and improve your plan. What a loving gift to give your family!

Pitfall No. 4: Not Working With a Professional

The last pitfall I’ll address is going at it alone, or doing your plan cheaply online. As I pointed out above, estate planning is not just about creating a few documents and putting them away on a shelf until something happens. There’s much more to it.

Instead, work closely with an estate planning firm like ours, who can help you craft a plan that fits your unique family dynamics, wishes and assets, as well as keep in touch over time to ensure your plan is updated and works when you need it to. At my firm, we support you with all this and more, including helping you structure your plan in a tax-efficient manner, minimizing the impact of taxes on your assets and ensuring your loved ones receive the maximum benefit from your estate.

I also help you address any unique circumstances within your family, such as a family business, a child with special needs or a family member with addiction issues, ensuring that your plan is tailored to meet the specific needs of your loved ones.

So dads, after reading this, I hope it’s clear that estate planning is a profound expression of your love and responsibility as a father. By taking action now, you can navigate the pitfalls and create a lasting legacy that transcends your lifetime. Remember, your knowledge and attention to detail today can shape the future of your loved ones for generations to come.

How We Support You to Avoid These Common Pitfalls

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we understand that protecting your family goes far beyond just legal documentation. Our mission is to empower you to enshrine your hopes, values, and profound love for your children into a comprehensive plan that preserves your family’s integrity for generations to come. We take the time to truly understand what family means to you—the struggles you overcame, the values you hold dear, the future you envision. And then we help you craft a tailored estate plan that meets your needs and stays updated over time.

So this Father’s Day, give yourself and your children the greatest gift: your love. Book a call with our office to learn how we can support you, and by extension, your entire family. Simply click on the scheduling link HERE.

Memorial Day Reflections: Crafting Your Lasting Legacy With Estate Planning

Memorial Day brings with it an opportunity to reflect on the concepts of mortality, remembrance, and legacy. As we remember the brave men and women who lost their lives serving in the military, may this day also inspire you to think about the legacy you wish to leave behind.

But, first, what is a legacy, really? “Legacy” is often misunderstood and so is estate planning. Legacy and estate planning are often perceived as “only for the wealthy” and/or “philanthropic”. But that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Legacy isn’t just about money or wealth. As my colleague Ali Katz says: “Legacy is the choices you make now, the actions you take now, the way of being you are now, and the ripple of impact beyond your lifetime.”

Legacy includes capturing your life stories, passing on your values, and ensuring your loved ones have a record of the essence of what matters to you. These are the things you leave behind that mean the most to your loved ones. Money can’t even compare. Thinking of it this way, it’s easy to see that every human has a legacy to create and leave behind, including you!

Estate planning, on the other hand, is something many people think they understand, but really don’t. It isn’t just about getting your Will done, or documenting what your end-of-life health care wishes are. Estate planning, like legacy, encompasses much more. It’s not about getting some documents signed. Estate planning is the vehicle that allows you to leave a legacy.

So let’s dive in for more understanding on what “legacy” really means and how you can secure your legacy for the benefit of your loved ones.

Understanding What Legacy Truly Is

Legacy, at its core, is about connecting the generations, and Life & Legacy Planning is the way to do it. Here’s an example. Consider a teacher who has spent her career fostering curiosity and resilience in her students. She may not have millions of dollars to give away, but she can use her estate plan to leave her personal library to a local school. She may even set up a small scholarship fund in her estate plan so she can continue supporting education long after she’s gone. And, if she has children or close friends she cooks for regularly, she may leave a book full of her recipes they all love.

Her legacy then becomes not just about the resources she left behind, but about inspiring future generations to value learning and perseverance, and nourishment. Similarly, your estate plan can be crafted to perpetuate the principles you deem most important, making your influence felt well into the future.

So now, take a minute to reflect. What principles are most important to you? How do you want to use them to connect your generation to the next?

Estate Planning as a Form of Love

In emphasizing the value of estate planning as the vehicle that allows you to leave a legacy, know that estate planning should be tailored for each person, each person’s family dynamics, and each person’s values. No two people are the same, no two families are the same, and therefore, no two estate plans should be the same. This personal touch transforms estate planning from a mundane task, that most people put off because they don’t see the value, into a powerful act of love.

Proper and customized estate planning can also alleviate the potential for family conflict, which oftentimes results in irretrievably broken family relationships. But when you use estate planning as a vehicle for securing your legacy, it has the power to preserve these relationships and uphold family harmony. Estate planning is then transformed into an enduring gesture of care and love.

Consider as an example a devoted husband and father who deeply valued his family’s annual summer retreats to a beloved lakeside cabin. Understanding the special place the cabin held in his and his family’s hearts, he specifically detailed in his Will his wish for the property to remain in the family, passing down to his children and grandchildren.

He also set up a small fund to cover the cabin’s upkeep, ensuring that his family would continue to enjoy it without financial burden. In doing so, this loving husband and father not only preserved a cherished family tradition but also created a physical space for remembrance and togetherness, allowing future generations to share in the joy and serenity he found there. This thoughtful element of his estate plan demonstrates how such preparations are acts of love, weaving his memory and values into the fabric of his family’s future.

Take another minute to reflect. How would you craft your own legacy into a plan of action?

Practical Steps to Create Your Legacy

Taking the first step in estate planning can feel daunting, but when you frame it as an act of love and legacy preservation, it becomes a deeply meaningful process. Start by identifying what matters most to you. This could be family traditions, a commitment to charity, a passion for art, or anything else that defines your personal story and values. Begin by listing these priorities and considering how they can be integrated into your estate plan.

Next, consult with a Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) who understands the intersection of legacy and estate planning through a special process called Life & Legacy Planning. (We are licensed in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.) A PFL will help you get clear on your values and goals, then together, you’ll create a customized plan that fits you and honors the legacy you wish to leave behind. For instance, if you, like the devoted father in the example above, have a cherished family property, a PFL can advise you on how to set up a trust to manage that property and stipulate how it should be maintained and used by future generations.

A PFL will also record a Life & Legacy Interview that your family will cherish for years. The Interview allows you to express your love, hopes, and reasons behind your decisions and is a comforting and clarifying piece for your loved ones, ensuring they understand your intentions and feel your presence in the provisions you’ve made. You can even record messages to send to beneficiaries that provide stories and details about a special possession or heirloom and why you chose to give it to them.

By taking these steps, you’re not just planning for the future; you’re crafting a legacy that carries your values and love forward, ensuring that your impact on the world persists and that your memory continues to serve as a source of inspiration and unity for those you hold dear.

Memorial Day Is an Opportunity for Action

This Memorial Day, as you reflect on the sacrifices of those who gave their all (and what a legacy that is!), take action to get your estate plan in place. Remember, estate planning is not just for the wealthy; it is for everyone. It’s about making your mark, much like the soldiers we honor, whose legacies are remembered for generations.

So let this Memorial Day be the catalyst for you to start or update your estate plan. In doing so, you honor your life and ensure connection among the generations. Just as we come together as a nation to remember, let’s also take steps to put our love into action.

How We Can Help You Take Action Today

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we don’t merely dispense legal counsel; we empower you to reflect on how you want to be remembered and how you want to pass on the values you hold dear. We take the time to fully understand what’s important to you, and then together, we’ll craft a thoughtful and holistic plan that results in the greatest gift you can leave your loved ones: your love.

To learn more about how we approach estate planning as the intersection of love and legacy, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

10 Steps to Take Now to Secure a Comfortable Retirement: Part 2

Welcome back to our discussion on securing a comfortable retirement! In the first part of this series, we explored essential steps including estate planning, preparing for long-term care, and passing on your legacy. As we continue with the second part of our series, we’ll delve into additional areas that are crucial for ensuring your golden years are not only financially stable but also enriched with independence, health, and continued personal growth. So let’s pick up where we left off.

Step 6: Plan for the Transfer of Your Assets

Why It’s Important: Adapting your living environment to meet your changing mobility and health needs can enhance your independence and quality of life (and who doesn’t want that?!). As physical abilities change with age, a home that accommodates these changes can help maintain a higher level of independence, reduce the risk of accidents, and potentially delay or avoid the need for an assisted living facility. Moreover, comfortable and accessible living conditions contribute significantly to happiness and well-being in your later years.

Practical Steps:

Assess Home Accessibility: Evaluate your home for potential mobility issues and consider modifications like ramps, wider doorways, or bathroom grab bars.

Explore Senior-Friendly Housing Options: If extensive modifications are too costly or impractical, consider moving to a senior-friendly community that offers additional amenities and services.

Find a Personal Family Lawyer in Your Community Who Offers Elder Care Planning. A Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) who offers elder care planning can help you navigate your options and create a plan that preserves your assets for your loved ones, rather than draining them for housing and health care costs. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL who offers elder care planning and make an appointment on their website. (Our office serves Massachusetts and New Hampshire.)

Step 7: Embrace Technology for Independence

Why It’s Important: Modern technology can significantly improve the convenience and safety of daily life for seniors. Technologies that assist with daily tasks can extend independence, reduce caregiver burden, and enhance your overall quality of life. Additionally, health-monitoring technologies can alert caregivers and medical professionals to potential health issues before they become severe, ensuring timely medical intervention.

Practical Steps:

Health Monitoring Technologies: Employ devices that can monitor vital signs and remind you to take medications. Your doctor may be able to help with this.

Consider Using Smart Home Devices: You can automate lighting, heating, and security to manage your home environment easily. If you aren’t technologically savvy, ask a younger family member to help. Gen Z can figure that out in a heartbeat!

Step 8: Stay Active and Engaged

Why It’s Important: Active engagement in physical, social, and mental activities can significantly enhance your quality of life and health in retirement. Maintaining an active lifestyle helps prevent common age-related health problems, improves mental health, and provides valuable social interactions that can combat loneliness and depression. When you engage in a variety of activities you also keep your mind sharp and gain a sense of accomplishment and happiness.

Practical Steps:

Join Community Groups or Clubs: Engage in activities that match your interests, such as book clubs, gardening, or volunteering. If you’re active on Facebook, you can find groups there that meet in your local community. Joining online groups counts too!

Regular Exercise: Participate in senior-friendly exercise programs to maintain health and mobility.

Pursue New Learning Opportunities: Consider taking classes at local community colleges or online to keep your mind sharp and learn new skills.

Step 9: Develop a Sustainable Retirement Budget

Why It’s Important: A well-planned budget is crucial to ensure that your savings last throughout your retirement years. A sustainable budget helps you manage your finances effectively, avoiding overspending and ensuring that you have funds available for unexpected expenses. A good budgeting practice can also help you maintain a comfortable lifestyle while safeguarding against market volatility and economic downturns.

Practical Steps:

Identify Essential vs. Non-Essential Expenses: Consider making adjustments to your spending habits if needed to ensure you can cover necessary costs while still enjoying your retirement.

Plan for Unexpected Costs: Include a buffer in your budget for unforeseen expenses to avoid financial strain.

Consult with a PFL. A PFL, as part of their unique PFL Life & Legacy Planning process, will help you get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before. Together, you’ll create a complete asset inventory (we call it a “personal resource map”, so you know exactly what you have and how long it will last. The inventory also ensures that your loved ones will be able to find your assets after you’re gone, so nothing is lost to the government. Check out your State’s Department of Unclaimed Property website (findmassmoney.gov in Massachusetts) and prepare to be shocked to see how much money has been lost! Traditional estate planning attorneys will not help you, but a PFL includes the inventory as part of every estate plan.

Step 10: Review and Adjust Your Estate Plan Regularly

Why It’s Important: Life changes, and so should your estate plan to ensure it continues to meet your evolving needs and circumstances. Regular reviews ensure your plan works when you and your family need it to, keeping them out of court and conflict after you’re gone. If your estate plan is current with the ever-changing estate and tax laws, chances are it will work and your wishes will be honored if you become incapacitated or when you die.

Practical Steps:

Meet with your PFL to review your asset inventory at least every three years. All PFLs will review your asset inventory and overall plan every three years free of charge.

And now we’ve come to the end of our 2-part series on how to enjoy your retirement with ease and peace of mind. I hope you’ve found this information helpful and inspired you to take action right away because what matters most to me is your ability to live a fulfilling life and give your loved ones a legacy they will treasure.

We Can Help Secure Comfort in Your Retirement

At our firm, we do more than just assist with your immediate retirement planning needs; we ensure that your future is as vibrant and secure as possible. The intricacies of adapting your living space, integrating modern technology for better health and independence, staying socially and physically active, and managing your finances can make retirement seem overwhelming. As your Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we simplify these aspects and tailor solutions to fit your lifestyle and aspirations, all within your time and budget.

If you want to explore how we can help you develop a retirement plan that not only safeguards your finances but also enriches your daily life, we encourage you to book a complimentary 15-minute call with us. Together, let’s make your retirement years as fulfilling and carefree as possible.

10 Steps to Take Now to Secure a Comfortable Retirement: Part 1

Retirement is more than just an end to the working years; it’s an exciting new phase of life that requires thoughtful preparation and strategic planning. Since May is Older Americans Awareness Month, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore 10 steps you can take now to ensure a comfortable and fulfilling retirement. In this article, we’ll discuss the first 5 steps, why they’re important, and how to implement them. Next week, we’ll continue with the remaining 5 steps.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

Step 1: Plan for the Transfer of Your Assets

Why It’s Important: Effective estate planning ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes, potentially reduces estate taxes, and can prevent a lot of legal complications for your heirs. Proper estate planning also helps to avoid the public, often lengthy and costly process of probate, ensuring that your heirs have quicker access to the assets you leave behind. Moreover, clear directives in estate planning can prevent family disputes (sometimes resulting in irretrievably broken relationships) and ensure that your specific instructions are followed, preserving your legacy exactly as you intend.

Practical Steps: Consult with a Personal Family Lawyer. A Personal Family Lawyer (“PFL”) always starts the client relationship with education about your options that align with your specific family dynamics, assets and wishes. From there, your PFL will help you create a tailored Life & Legacy plan that works when you and your family need it to, keeping you and them out of court and conflict. Importantly, a PFL can also help you avoid unnecessary taxes before and during retirement (and who doesn’t want that?).

Life Insurance: Having adequate coverage to handle any debts and funeral expenses can provide a financial cushion for those who depend on you. As part of the PFL Life & Legacy Planning process, your PFL can educate you about how much insurance you need and how to pass the funds to the people you want, while avoiding unnecessary taxes and ensuring the funds are available as soon as possible.

Find a PFL in Your Community, like North Shore Planning. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL and make an appointment for a 15-minute consult call on their website. Many PFLs have virtual offices for your convenience, so if there isn’t a PFL listed in your locality, choose the closest one. (Our office serves Massachusetts and New Hampshire and offers in-person and virtual appointments.)

Step 2: Prepare for Long-Term Care Expenses

Why It’s Important: As we continue to live longer, so does the probability of needing some form of long-term care. These services, whether in-home care, assisted living, or nursing facilities, can be costly and are not typically covered by Medicare. Without proper planning, the high costs of long-term care can quickly deplete retirement savings, potentially leaving less financial support for spouses or other family members. Furthermore, preemptive financial planning can significantly ease the emotional and logistical challenges of arranging for long-term care.

Practical Steps:

Research Long-Term Care Insurance: Investigate different policies early, ideally in your 50s or early 60s, before premiums rise significantly. Compare benefits, coverage limits, and the reputation of insurance providers.

Learn About Government Programs: Understand what Medicare covers and explore Medicaid eligibility for long-term care, which varies by state but generally requires spending down your assets.

Find a PFL in Your Community Who Offers Elder Care Planning. Preparing for long-term care can be tricky because the laws are quite complicated. However, a PFL who offers elder care planning can help you navigate your options and create a plan that preserves your assets for your loved ones, rather than draining them for health care costs. Go to personalfamilylawyer.com to find the nearest PFL who offers elder care planning and make an appointment on their website.

Step 3: Pass on Generational Wealth

Why It’s Important: By ensuring that wealth passes effectively to future generations, you can secure their financial future and teach them how to manage and grow that wealth responsibly. Furthermore, generational wealth can enhance the lives of future family members and their communities by providing educational opportunities, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting philanthropic efforts. It also instills a sense of responsibility and stewardship, which are crucial for maintaining family wealth over generations.

Practical Steps:

Educational Trusts: A PFL can help you set up trusts that release funds for your children or grandchildren based on milestones such as graduation from college. These trusts also have tax benefits, and a PFL can educate you about how they work.

Create a Family Investment Plan: Include younger family members in discussions about family investments to educate them about financial principles.

Step 4: Leave a Legacy

Why It’s Important: What your family will treasure most is not the financial gifts you leave, but your life lessons, values, and memories that define your family heritage. A well-planned legacy can inspire and guide future generations, providing them with a sense of identity and belonging to a greater family story. You can ensure that your philosophical and ethical beliefs continue to influence even when you’re no longer present, helping to shape the character and choices of your descendants.

Practical Steps:

Record Life & Legacy Interview with a PFL: All PFLs include an interview as an important part of their unique Life & Legacy Planning process. The interview ensures your family has a piece of their family history they can hold onto long after you’re gone. They’ll also treasure being able to see you and hearing your voice whenever they want.

Step 5: Cultivate and Share Family Values and History

Why It’s Important: Continuing the idea of leaving a legacy, know that strengthening family bonds through shared history and values helps maintain a sense of continuity across generations. This cultural and historical continuity enhances their psychological resilience and emotional well-being. Additionally, a well-documented family history can serve as a valuable asset for educational and genealogical purposes, enriching the lives of current and future generations. Here are some steps you can take outside of recording a Life & Legacy Interview with a PFL.

Practical Steps:

Create a Family Archive: Gather photos, letters and important documents in a digital format to ensure preservation and easy sharing. Enlist the help of a younger family member (Gen Z, anyone?) if you need to. Also consider writing down recipes, stories, and holiday traditions that can be passed down as family legacies.

Compile Family Histories: Write or record stories about family elders, significant events, and the origins of family traditions. Note that writing these down the “old school” way, i.e., pen and paper, will be meaningful to younger generations. They’ll love having a piece of paper with your handwriting on it.

Host Family Reunions: Regular gatherings not only help reinforce family bonds but also allow older generations to impart wisdom and traditions firsthand.

So whether you’re a few years away or are about to retire now, it’s never too early (or too late!) to start planning. Be sure to check back next week for even more steps you can take to ensure peace of mind when the time comes.

Let Us Help Secure Comfort in Your Retirement

At our firm, we do more than just guide you through estate planning; we provide you with peace of mind, knowing you are free to enjoy retirement. However, understanding the complexities of retirement—from estate planning to ensuring long-term care and preserving generational wealth—can be daunting. That’s why, as your heart-centered Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we streamline the process, making it as easy on you as possible.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to create a Life & Legacy Plan that secures your comfort in retirement, we invite you to schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office. Let us help you live your best life, every step of the way.

Schedule a call here to get started.

Estate Planning: A Gift of Peace and Power for Every Mother

Moms spend their days and nights thinking about how to make sure their children are happy, healthy, and safe. If you’re a mom, you know. If you aren’t a mom, you were born because of a mom. It’s one of the two things we all have in common.

So, as Mother’s Day approaches, let’s talk about the most meaningful gift you can give or receive on this hallmark holiday that means a lot: every mom deserves the peace of mind and power to create financial security for themselves and their children with thoughtful estate planning.

Now you may be thinking, “Estate planning? Really? Isn’t that just for rich people?” Or, “How does drafting a Will give me peace of mind and financial security?”

Glad you asked! Most people have a general concept of what “estate planning” means, but in reality, don’t fully understand it. Believe it or not, estate planning is far more complex than just drafting a Will, and it’s not just for rich people, though doing it will leave your family much more “rich” than if you don’t. Once you appreciate the power of estate planning, you’ll know why it has the power to “gift” you peace of mind.

So let’s start by parsing out what estate planning really is and why it matters for every mom you know, including yourself if you are a mom.

Why Estate Planning Matters for Moms (and Dads too)

Imagine having a roadmap that clearly shows how your financial assets, the guardianship of your children, and even your most cherished possessions are handled should anything happen to you. Now imagine that your roadmap is a legal document and the people receiving that roadmap are required to abide by your wishes and are able to easily do so because your wishes are so clear and you’ve left a guide for your family along with the roadmap.

That’s what estate planning is: a legally enforceable plan for your future, and ideally a guide to help your loved ones navigate the plan. And contrary to what most people think, estate planning isn’t just for the wealthy or those who are nearing the end of life. It’s for everyone, including you! Thoughtful estate planning gives you the power to make decisions now that will impact your and your family’s future, giving you peace of mind to know you aren’t leaving a mess for the people you love.

You may be wondering, “Really? How does estate planning give me peace of mind?” Relax – grab a mimosa or some tea, kick your feet up, and let’s talk about how it works.

Estate planning allows you to specify who will care for your children if you are unable to do so yourself. It’s undoubtedly a tough subject, but choosing a guardian you trust to raise your kids as you would brings immense comfort, and may even guide you to build deeper relationships with the people you’d call upon to care for your children, if you cannot. Knowing that your wishes are written down and legally protected can relieve a lot of stress, and relax any of those “stressful in the background” thoughts about that one person you would never want raising your kids.

Without a plan, a judge would decide who takes care of your children if you cannot, and they might not choose the person you would have wanted. Or worst of all, they may even choose the one person you’d never want raising your kids because maybe they look great on paper. Think about it: a judge knows nothing about you or your kids. They only know what they see in court filings. That’s it. They’d have to make decisions with no input from you. Kinda scary, right?

When done right, estate planning also lets you direct the distribution of your property and finances. Specifically, it ensures your assets are transferred to the people you choose without unnecessary delays, legal hurdles, or family conflict.

This not only secures your children’s future but also simplifies the administrative process at a time when your family should have space and time to mourn and heal, not get tangled in legal complexities. And if they do get tangled up in conflict, it’s highly likely that those relationships will be forever destroyed. That also happens. Again, more often than you may think.

Here’s the bottom line. When you get these things in order, you can die in peace, and that means you live life more fully.

Estate Planning Equals Empowerment

Estate planning puts the power in your hands. It’s a declaration of your values and your voice, legally secured to guide your family when you can’t be there. By setting out your wishes clearly, you prevent disputes and ensure your legacy lives on exactly as you intend. After all, someone will have to wrap up your affairs after you die, so it may as well be you, now, while you’re living. So step into your power, safeguard your children’s future, and cement your role as the heart and protector of your family.

In the process of getting your estate planning handled, when you work with a Personal Family Lawyer® firm, you’re going to learn a tremendous amount about your finances, and your financial literacy is going to grow in a way that will result in you feeling exponentially more financially secure and clear.

Financial Protection In Case of Loss

Estate planning is especially vital if the unthinkable happens and your spouse or partner dies. Many mothers face not only devastating emotional loss but also the potential for significant financial instability – especially if you aren’t the primary breadwinner in your family. An effective estate plan, however, includes setting up mechanisms such as life insurance, trusts, and instructions for pension or retirement benefits, which can provide you with financial support when it’s most needed. There’s absolutely no reason you and your children need to compromise your lifestyle should something happen to your partner.

For example, an estate plan ensures that you have access to joint assets and that any individual assets held by your spouse or partner are transferred to you or your children without delay. This can be critical in preventing financial hardship during an already challenging time, ensuring that you have the resources needed to maintain your home, cover living expenses, and continue to provide for your children’s needs.

The Personal Family Lawyer Difference

By now, it should be clear that creating an effective estate plan that honors your wishes and secures your and your family’s financial future isn’t as simple as creating a Will. It’s more complicated than that and can be overwhelming, particularly with the legal jargon and the multitude of decisions that need to be made. These decisions are hard, too. When you’re living your life, probably the last thing you want to think about is your death. You’d probably rather have a root canal.

Fortunately, you don’t have to navigate the process alone. Personal Family Lawyer firms, like ours, are uniquely trained, and trusted advisors who can guide you through the process, ensuring that your plan fits your specific circumstances and family dynamics. Here’s a bonus: A Personal Family Lawyer can also advise you on tax implications and the best ways to structure your finances to benefit you and your heirs. Yay! (Unless you want to pay extra taxes and give your money to the government instead of your kids, then knock yourself out).

Finally, a Personal Family Lawyer is committed to serving you and your family for the long term by checking in to update your plan as life changes, assets change and your kids grow. By working with a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, you create a plan that is thorough, thoughtful and works when you and your family need it to.

Let Us Give You the Gift of Peace and Power

At our law firm, we don’t just give legal advice or draft documents. We take your power and peace of mind seriously. We also know that you’re busy. As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we have processes in place that make getting your estate plan in place as easy as possible, all while being thorough, thoughtful, and mindful of your time and budget.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you create an estate plan that gives you the Mother’s Day gift of power and peace of mind – so you can live life to the fullest – schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

The Dark Side of the Internet: Protect Yourself From Online Scams and Digital Attacks

In the digital age, online scams and cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, posing risks to not only everyday users but also to lawyers who manage clients’ sensitive information. But there’s no need to fear if you take measures to keep your data safe. And if (when?) you’re working with a lawyer, you should also know what actions lawyers take to protect your data. Taking these two approaches, let’s discuss how you can safeguard yourself from these digital attackers and how lawyers ensure their clients’ data is protected from the bad guys.

And since this article is being published around “Star Wars Day” (i.e., May 4th, as in “May the fourth (Force) be with you”), I’ll refer to the bad guys as the “Dark Side” just for fun.

7 Tips to Protect Yourself From the Dark Side

Navigating the internet safely requires vigilance and knowledge about potential threats, even as the Dark Side constantly comes up with online scams and attacks designed to steal personal information or harm your devices. Here are some essential steps to protect yourself from these cyber threats and ensure your digital experience remains secure.

  1. Verify who you’re interacting with and confirm the identity of anyone asking for personal details online. Scammers often pretend to be from a trusted company. If you receive an email or message that looks suspicious, or even a little off, contact the company directly using information from their official website.
  2. Create strong passwords. This is crucial. Your passwords should be long, unique, and include a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols. Avoid using common words or sequences that can be easily guessed. Additionally, use different passwords for different sites. A password manager can help you generate and manage secure passwords.
  3. Don’t click on links or attachments without knowing who the sender is. Clicking on links or downloading attachments from unknown sources can be dangerous. These can lead to fake websites designed to steal your information or install malware on your device. When in doubt, don’t click, especially when links come to you via text. Never, ever click a link sent to you via text without verifying that the sender is a real friend or company you are doing business with.
  4. Keep your software and devices updated. Regular updates help fix security vulnerabilities. Use antivirus software to protect against malware and other threats.
  5. Educate yourself about the types of scams that exist, such as phishing emails that ask for personal information or offer too-good-to-be-true deals. Being aware is your first line of defense.
  6. If you get a call from a bank, a government agency or even from a child or grandchild asking for money or gift cards for any reason, or access to your computer, tell the caller you will call them back. Hang up, and call your child or grandchild directly, OR the bank or government agency and find out if they were actually calling you. As an added measure, with your family, have a family “code phrase” that must be spoken out loud in the event of an emergency, such as “blackie is a brown dog” or something unique that only your family would know.
  7. MOST IMPORTANT: Never give anyone remote access to your computer, unless it is from a tech support company you engaged with proactively, meaning you called the tech support line on the Company’s website directly, and you initiated the request for support. Scammers will pretend they are from Coinbase or your bank, and tell you they need to access your computer to resolve your account problem. Do not fall for it.

It’s also important to note here that the elderly are the most targeted group for online scammers. So if your parents fall into this age group, pass along this article to them so they are armed with knowledge to protect themselves.

The Dark Side Won This Time, Now What?

Even after taking all these measures, sometimes the bad guys get away with it and scam you, or a loved one. If you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam, it’s important to act quickly. Immediately inform your bank or relevant service provider if you’ve shared any sensitive information. They can take steps to protect your account. You should also update your passwords right away, especially if you believe they may have been compromised. Again, ensure your new passwords are strong and unique. You may also want to report the scam to the alleged sender, so they know someone is impersonating them and can take protective measures themselves. And if applicable, report the scam to the relevant online platform, or even the local police, consumer protection agencies, or internet crime complaint centers.

Rest Easy Knowing We Have Your Back

At our law firm, we don’t just give legal advice; we’re your trusted advisor for life. If you’ve been scammed, we can help you set up your affairs in such a way that there are layers of protection built-in so it doesn’t happen again. As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we’re also here for your family. If your elderly parents don’t have an estate plan in place – or it’s been a while since they had it reviewed – we are here for them too. We can help them protect not only their data, but everything they want to pass on to you.

If you want to learn more about how we can help you and your parents create a Life & Legacy estate plan that keeps your family out of court and conflict and ensures your plan works when you need it to, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

What Happens To Your Social Media Account When You Die?

When you die, what happens to your online life? Each social media platform has its own rules for dealing with the accounts of deceased users, ranging from permanent deletion to transforming accounts into places for mourning and memory. Understanding these options is essential for managing digital assets responsibly and respecting your wishes. So let’s take a look at the various policies of major social media sites and what you can do to make sure your accounts are handled the way you want. After all, our social media accounts reflect our personalities, interests, and memories, so we want them handled with care.

What Each Platform Allows

Let’s take a look at the practical aspects and discuss what each digital platform allows or requires. Note that these provisions are updated as of April 2024, as this article is being published.

Facebook. Facebook offers two options for accounts of deceased users: either close the account permanently or convert it into a memorial account where loved ones can share memories. The platform allows you to designate a “Legacy Contact” while you’re alive; someone who can manage your memorialized account by updating your profile picture, accepting friend requests, and posting memories. Importantly, they cannot log into the account or view your private message history.

Instagram. Instagram also allows accounts to be either memorialized or permanently deleted. A memorialized Instagram account will display a “Remembering” label and will not appear in public spaces like the “Explore” section. The process requires proof of death, such as a death certificate, so someone will need to provide that after you’re gone.

TikTok. TikTok permits family members or legal representatives to request the deactivation of a deceased user’s account by providing appropriate proof of death. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, and at the time of this writing, TikTok does not currently offer a memorialization option, so your account is permanently removed once the request is processed.

X. X (formerly known as Twitter) allows the family to close the account of a deceased user. This involves submitting proof of death, after which your account and its contents are permanently deleted. X does not provide a memorialization option.

YouTube. YouTube is covered by Google’s overall policies, which offer a proactive feature called the Inactive Account Manager. This allows you to set instructions for your account if you become inactive for a specified period. You can also choose to have your data shared with trusted contacts or have the account deleted.

LinkedIn. On LinkedIn, immediate family members or colleagues can request to remove a deceased member’s profile by providing proof of death. LinkedIn focuses on maintaining a professional network and so does not offer account memorialization.

How to close or memorialize an account

It’s important to know that social media platforms generally discourage logging into a deceased person’s account as it poses privacy and security risks. To close or memorialize your account, family members must directly contact the service and provide the necessary documentation. They won’t be able to make a phone call, either – they’ll have to find out how to close or memorialize your account on each site separately, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. But there’s a better way! You can create a plan that helps your loved ones navigate the process. To do that, you need a trusted estate planning lawyer.

What an Estate Planning Attorney Can Do

  1. Create a Digital Asset Plan

    An estate planning attorney can help you draft a digital asset plan that details your wishes for each of your online accounts. This plan can specify which accounts should be closed and which should be memorialized. It includes all kinds of digital assets, from social media accounts and emails to digital wallets and personal blogs.

    Your attorney can also guide you in appointing an executor, a person who will be responsible for managing your online assets according to your wishes. A knowledgeable attorney will explain the responsibilities involved and help ensure that the executor has the legal authority they need to act on your behalf with various digital platforms.

  2. Provide Necessary Legal Documentation

    A skilled attorney can prepare necessary legal documents that authorize your executor to access your accounts. This might include special powers of attorney and directives that are included in your will, trust, or in a separate document.

  3. Secure Your Account Information

    A trusted attorney can suggest secure ways to store your account usernames, passwords, and any other necessary information. This information can be kept in a way that respects privacy and security but becomes accessible to the digital executor or designated individuals after your death.

  4. Update the Plan Over Time

    As laws and platform policies change, a trusted estate planning attorney can help update your digital estate plan. This ensures that it remains compliant with new regulations and continues to reflect your wishes accurately.

However, it’s important to know that most estate planning attorneys treat their clients as a “one and done” transaction. Once your plan is signed, they won’t contact you again to ensure that your plan stays updated over time. And they won’t explain that failure to update your plan regularly means your plan won’t work when you need it to. Instead, work with a Personal Family Lawyer who will keep in touch for your lifetime to ensure your plan works.

How We Can Help

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we don’t merely dispense legal counsel; we safeguard all your assets and guide you to make the right decisions for your unique situation. We take the time to fully understand what’s important to you, and then together, we’ll craft a thoughtful and holistic plan so you and your family can avoid the stress, conflict, and chaos that comes with incomplete planning – including incomplete digital planning.

To learn more about how we approach estate planning from a place of heart and understanding, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office.

Why Estate Planning Is the Best Use of Your Tax Refund

When that extra bit of money from your tax refund lands in your bank account, (kinda feels like Christmas, doesn’t it?) it’s easy to start dreaming about all the ways you can use it. Financial experts may tell you that it’s a chance to pay off debts, tuck away savings for an emergency, or add to your retirement savings. You, on the other hand, may want to splurge on something special. However, there’s an often-overlooked option that not only provides immediate satisfaction but ensures long-term benefits for both you and your loved ones: estate planning.

Estate planning might sound like a complex and daunting chore reserved for the wealthy, but it’s actually a straightforward and crucial process for everyone. In its most basic terms, estate planning involves making a plan for what happens to your belongings and finances after you’re gone, or if you become incapacitated. Think of it as creating a roadmap for your loved ones to follow, ensuring they’re taken care of and know exactly how to handle your estate according to your wishes. After all, someone will have to do something with your stuff after you’re gone, and if you’re the one who takes care of it while you can, you can save your loved ones a lot of pain. And, make sure you are cared for in the way you want, by the people you want, if you become incapacitated.

And by the way, proper estate planning covers much more than just money and personal belongings, but we’ll delve into that in just a bit.

Why You Need an Estate Plan

Not only do you need a plan for what happens with your finances and personal items after you’re gone or become incapacitated, but you also need an estate plan if any of the following are true:

You care about the people in your life who will handle things for you, if you cannot. First and foremost, estate planning isn’t something you just do for yourself, it’s truly an investment you make for the people you love. If it feels daunting to you, imagine how they will feel left with a big confusing mess when something happens to you. And, it’s one of those things that you must get handled before you need it because by the time you need it, it’s too late, and you’ve just left the people you love the most with a big mess.

That’s why we say that estate planning is about protecting your family. It’s about protecting their time, energy and attention, and leaving them with a gift of love. It’s a way of saying “I love you” that goes beyond words, providing them with security and guidance during a difficult time. By making your wishes clear, you can keep them out of court, prevent potential conflicts and ensure your loved ones are supported exactly as you intend.

You want your wishes to be honored. With an estate plan, you have the power to dictate exactly how you want to be cared for if you are incapacitated, or who makes decisions for you if you cannot. If you would not want to linger in a hospital bed for years like Terry Schiavo did before her death, you must create a plan. Otherwise, the people you love could get stuck in a court process fighting over your care.

You also get to say who inherits your assets, from your home and savings to sentimental items. Planning ensures there isn’t any confusion and guarantees that your possessions end up in the right hands. Planning also makes it clear who should handle things after you are gone, and it makes it as easy as possible for the people you choose.

You want to save money and time (for yourself and your family). Dealing with the court if you become incapacitated or when you die is time-consuming, can be expensive and is totally public. Without a clear plan in place, you or your family may face costly legal battles and time-consuming administrative hurdles. Your careful planning now can save them from this stress and financial strain, making the process as smooth as possible. In addition, careful planning ensures that you save yourself money by avoiding unnecessary costs if you are unable to care for yourself.

You have minor children. If you have minor children, consider who is home with them when you aren’t. Would that person know what to do if you didn’t make it home? Or would the authorities show up at your house and have to take your children into the care of protective custody/strangers while they figured it out? If the idea of this terrifies you like it does most parents, you need an estate plan.

Most parents of minor kids are overwhelmed with the demands of everyday life and don’t stop to think that estate planning applies to them. A common misconception is that planning is only for older folks who know their mortality is staring them in the face, and young parents think that’s too far off to warrant any consideration. That’s a mistake. Death happens to everyone and incapacity can happen before it, no matter how old you are right now. Don’t leave your kids at risk.

So now you know you need an estate plan but aren’t sure what to do next. If you feel like the process seems daunting, don’t worry. Taking that first step is easier than you might think.

Put Your Tax Refund To Work

You might consider using your tax refund to do your estate plan on your own or opt for a cheap online service. While these options can seem cost-effective at first glance, they don’t offer the comprehensive coverage and personalized advice that your unique situation requires.

Instead, investing your refund in working with a heart centered, holistic attorney with a process in place for ensuring that your plan works throughout your lifetime is a much wiser choice. We will get to know you, your family dynamics, and your assets, and then help you choose the right plan for you both now, and into the future. Creating a will or a trust isn’t a one and done thing you do, and then put it on a shelf or in a drawer and never look at it again. When you do that, your plan is almost guaranteed to fail when the people you love need it. In that case, it’s almost better to do nothing because then at least you have it on your to-do list. False security is one of the greatest risks of estate planning.

We will help you navigate the law, and also help you tailor your estate plan to fit your specific needs, as well as provide peace of mind knowing that your estate plan is thorough and legally sound. Remember, when it comes to safeguarding your family’s future and ensuring your wishes are accurately reflected, the value of expert guidance is well worth the investment.

At the very least, your attorney should help you create the relevant documents, including:

Creating a Will: A will is a document in which you detail the distribution of your assets and designate guardians for any minor children. It serves as your voice, ensuring your assets are allocated as you desire.

Setting Up a Trust: For greater control over the distribution of your assets, a trust is invaluable. It not only allows for precise management of how and when your assets are distributed but can also offer tax advantages and circumvent the lengthy and public probate process. In addition, and maybe more importantly, a trust will help your loved ones avoid a lengthy, expensive, and totally public court process, which can cost your family significant amounts of time, energy and attention.

Selecting Guardians and Executors: A key component of estate planning is choosing individuals who will execute your wishes and look after your children if you are unable to do so. These crucial choices help safeguard your family’s future. And if you want to go beyond merely choosing people to raise your kids, you need a thorough Kids Protection Plan, which takes into account anything that could happen (i.e., you’re in a car accident and they’re with a babysitter at home). A Kids Protection Plan also ensures your kids are raised by the people you want in the way you want, that someone you’d never want to raise your kids is able to, and that the right people are able to get emergency care for them if you’re traveling without them.

Managing Taxes and Expenses: Effective estate planning can significantly lessen the tax load on your beneficiaries, allowing a larger portion of your assets to benefit them directly instead of going towards tax settlements.

These are all undoubtedly important, and what most estate planning attorneys will do for you. However, a Personal Family Lawyer will go a few steps further, ensuring that investing your tax refund in an estate plan is the very best investment you’ll make all year. In fact, every Personal Family Lawyer promises to deliver a plan to clients that works throughout your lifetime. They do this by:

  • Empowering you to choose the right plan that fits your unique family situation, values, and budget (most lawyers will tell you what you need);
  • Ensuring your assets are inventoried and don’t end up lost (most lawyers won’t tell you that this happens – a lot – to the tune of billions of dollars every year);
  • Creating a Kids Protection Plan® , a comprehensive plan outside of your will for what happens to your kids if something happened to you (most lawyers don’t even think to do this);
  • Being a trusted advisor for your family, so they have someone to turn to for help when something happens to you (most lawyers don’t ever make contact with your family after you’ve completed your estate plan);
  • Capturing your memories, stories, values and family traditions so they are passed down to the next generations (most lawyers don’t think to do this either); and
  • A system for updating your plan at least every three years to make sure your plan stays up to date so as your life changes and the law changes, your plan works when you need it to (most lawyers treat their clients as a “one and done” transaction, never checking in again and letting your plan go stale).

What If I Didn’t Get a Refund This Year?

Now you may be thinking, bummer, I didn’t get a refund this year. Know these two things: 1) Estate planning is always a wise investment whether you get a refund or not; and 2) A Personal Family Lawyer, using a unique process called Life & Legacy Planning, can help you organize your finances so you are more likely to get a refund next year, or at least not have a big unexpected tax bill, if that’s what happened this year.. A Personal Family Lawyer will also help you get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, so that you make the very best decisions about the allocation of your resources for yourself and the people you love.

Estate Planning: The Ultimate Expression of Love

Among all the ways to use your tax refund, estate planning with a Personal Family Lawyer ensures that your love and care for your family endure long after you’re gone. It’s an act of foresight that not only secures your family’s financial future but also leaves a legacy.

As a Personal Family Lawyer Firm, we will work with you to create a complete plan that is worth more to your loved ones than your tax refund will cover. To learn more about our Life & Legacy Planning process, and how we approach estate planning from a place of heart, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office today.

Navigating the World of Cryptocurrency: A Guide for Parents and Teens

In an era where digital innovation shapes every aspect of our lives, it’s no surprise that our teenagers are drawn to the allure of cryptocurrency. This digital form of money represents a shift away from traditional financial systems. If you are the parent of teens, understanding cryptocurrency is crucial so you can provide them with the guidance they need to navigate this new world safely and wisely. Luckily, I’m here to help you learn what you need to know. Let’s dive in.

What is Cryptocurrency, Exactly?

Cryptocurrency, which folks also call “crypto” is, in essence, virtual money that can be used to buy goods and services. It can also be traded for profit, much like stocks. However, unlike the dollars in your wallet, crypto exists only in the digital world. The crypto universe is vast, with thousands of digital currencies out there.

Crypto is based on blockchain technology, which ensures transactions are secure, transparent, and decentralized, so they’re not controlled by any government or financial institution (there are pros and cons to this that we’ll describe below). Imagine blockchain as a digital Lego tower where each block represents a piece of information, and once a block is added to the tower, it can’t be removed or altered, making it a super secure way to keep track of cryptocurrency transactions – kind of like a high-tech, unbreakable diary.

A critical component of understanding cryptocurrency is the concept of a crypto wallet. Unlike a physical wallet, a crypto wallet doesn’t store currency; instead, it holds secure digital keys that allow access to cryptocurrencies. With me so far?

What Parents of Teens Need to Know

To the younger, digital-native generation, cryptocurrency is an exciting and innovative concept. They’re not afraid of technology and investing online. They’re aware of the potentially significant returns on investments, stories of cryptocurrency millionaires, and the prospect of being part of a cutting-edge financial movement. This is why crypto is very attractive to teens.

Parents should know that while there are no laws specifically prohibiting teens from owning or trading cryptocurrency, most platforms and exchanges require users to be 18 years old. For eager and younger investors, custodial accounts present a solution. These accounts allow parents to oversee their teen’s investments, providing a controlled environment where teens can learn about digital currencies.

These accounts not only allow parents to monitor their teen’s investment activities but also offer a hands-on educational experience in managing and understanding digital currencies. It’s a balanced approach that combines the practical aspects of investing with the security of parental oversight.

Be Aware of the Risks

While learning how to invest in crypto can be a great learning activity for you and your teen, be aware of the risks involved. For one, the crypto market is highly volatile. Prices can surge or plummet within a short period, making investments speculative and risky. It’s crucial to have open discussions with your teen about the importance of not investing more than they can afford to lose, and about the reality of the speculative nature of digital currency. Teach your teen the importance of research, diversification, and long-term thinking and you’ll help instill responsible investment habits that will last a lifetime (and make you proud!).

Most importantly, ensure that you know how to get into their cryptocurrency accounts, in case something happens. And, that someone knows how to get into your accounts as well. The biggest risk to your cryptocurrency investments is that you haven’t documented them such that someone could access your accounts, when something happens to you. Contact us and let us help!

Alternatives and Best Practices

For families that find direct investment in cryptocurrency too daunting, there are alternative ways to engage with the digital economy. Encouraging your teen to learn about blockchain technology or exploring investments in crypto-related stocks and ETFs can provide a safer introduction to the concepts without the direct risks associated with cryptocurrency trading.

However, if you’re ready to make a go at it, here are some best practices to keep in mind:

Foster a Culture of Learning. The rapid evolution of digital currencies makes continuous learning essential. Encourage your teen (and take the opportunity yourself) to stay informed about the latest developments by reading reputable news sources, listening to podcasts, and even speaking with a financial advisor.

Establish Guidelines. Before your teen makes any financial investment, it’s important to establish clear guidelines. Discuss together how much time and money is reasonable to invest, the importance of privacy and security in digital transactions, and the expectations for responsible behavior. Setting these ground rules early on can lay a strong foundation for healthy financial habits.

Embrace the Future. Regardless of whether your teen decides to invest in cryptocurrency, understanding this new facet of the financial world is invaluable for you. The rise of digital currencies offers a unique opportunity for parents and teens to learn together about the future of money, technology, and personal finance. It’s a chance to explore new concepts, discuss values and responsibilities, and prepare for a future where digital currencies may play a significant role.

Prepare Yourself and Your Teen With Our Guidance

Whatever the future holds, as a Personal Family Lawyer firm, we believe it’s important to educate your children about finances so you leave a legacy of fiscal responsibility when you’re gone. That’s why we help ensure that when you’re no longer here, your assets – including cryptocurrency – are passed on the way you want, easily, and without your family ending up in court and conflict. We do that by approaching estate planning as a relationship – a lifetime relationship with you as your and your family’s trusted advisor so you have someone to turn to in times of change and uncertainty, and in times of joy and excitement.

To learn more about how we can guide you and your family to secure the future you want, schedule a complimentary 15-minute call with our office HERE.