You know those pre-printed do-it-yourself forms that apply to all number of legal topics and can be readily purchased at bookstores or online for just a few bucks?
In some instances, that's just about what they're worth. In fact, executing a so-called "boilerplate" form can bring results far removed from what a person ever intended, making the few dollars saved upfront by purchasing a generic document and forgoing legal counsel an ultimately pricey proposition.
Truly, such forms abound on the market, tempting consumers in Texas and elsewhere across the country. Do-it-yourself forms and kits cover a virtual universe of legal topics, including divorce, business formation, intellectual property applications, bankruptcy and many other subjects.
Edward N. Wolff, an economist at New York University, was once provided funding to study the so-called "inheritance boom" phenomenon -- the expectation that inheritances in the United States would one day become so prevalent that the resulting effect would fundamentally change the contours of American life.
Wolff flatly failed to uncover any evidence of such a boom, saying that "so far it has not really materialized."
The operative word that might be inserted into Wolff's quoted language is "yet," given the huge numbers of baby boomers poised to retire -- and who will be leaving the work force in large numbers for years to come -- who have worked hard to amass savings and now seek to provide to some extent for their heirs and subsequent generations.
Most experienced estate planning firms do not readily beat their own drum to bear witness to their prowess in promoting their clients' estate goals, including asset preservation and distribution, tax avoidance, the assurance that health-care considerations have been duly attended to and more. We are certainly no exception.
We'll just let John J. Bowen Jr. do the talking.
Bowen seems well qualified to do just that, being a financial planner and CEO of a global consulting firm, as well as a media columnist. In a recent article he penned for Financial Planning, a newsletter that provides industry news and analysis, Bowen presents his views on what he regards as the optimal strategy for promoting clients' best wealth-related interests.
Do you perhaps need a little motivation to get started on sound estate planning that will benefit your family and safeguard against unwanted outcomes down the road?
If so, you're far from alone. Many people strongly intend to put their financial and health affairs in order and simply slip a bit on following through as time goes by.
That can bring unfortunate results.
Sometimes the idea of estate planning can seem so confusing or even gloomy that Texas residents would rather avoid it. Unfortunately, none of us know our fate when it comes to the longevity of our life, so having a plan established is very important.
If you break up the estate planning process into some key steps, it can seem less daunting. First, it's important to know why you need a will in the first place. It essentially takes the stress off your relatives in having to decide how to split your assets. Not only that, but it also outlines what you want so that the state doesn't make those decisions for you. Finally, and likely most importantly for parents, it is a good way to explain your wishes in terms of guardianship for minors should you pass away.
Families in Texas and across the United States with aging loved ones often have a host of considerations to think about. Each situation is unique, of course, but common concerns often arise as certain family members advance in years, sometimes becoming disabled in the process.
One such concern that arises in the elder law arena and with long-term care planning focuses centrally on residential planning.
Perhaps parents want to remain indefinitely in the family home, but noticeably declining health prospects for one or both of them render that an unlikely scenario. In such a case, it is often in the best interests of all family members to have a candid and loving discussion about living arrangements going forward.
Like any other person executing an estate plan, recently deceased actor Philip Seymour Hoffman certainly thought about what made most sense for his loved ones and sought to fashion a plan that best promoted their interests.
Were Hoffman still alive today and privy to advice from a proven estate planning attorney, he would likely want to revisit the plan he did execute, since its results could have been bettered with select modifications.
We mention Hoffman and his estate today not because he was a noted celebrity, but, rather, because media stories relating to widely known figures are often instructive for the general public.
"You want people to remember you for the good things you did, not the mess you left."
So says one financial planner, who undoubtedly echoes the sentiments of many of his professional peers.
Experienced estate planning attorneys without doubt agree with the above comment, having seen the huge difference in outcome that sound estate planning -- or lack thereof -- typically makes following a person's death or incapacitating illness.
In a recent media article, an estate planning attorney relates some poignant details about his family history, noting his mother's advancing dementia in later years and her final days in a nursing home.
That experience, coupled with the financial stresses he saw his father go through to defray the costs of a mere four months in the home, left a lasting impression on Arthur Bergeron.
Bergeron is now a practicing elder law attorney in Massachusetts who flatly proclaims, "I'm proud of what I do."
Age demographics other than baby boomers (boomers being of the post-World War II baby surge from 1946 through 1964) might sometimes feel slighted by all the attention that seems to be paid to that group. In virtually every realm of interest, from politics to social mores, stories abound concerning how boomers feel, how they differ from other groups, how they will fare going forward and so forth.
There are valid reasons for all that attention, given the estimated 79 million boomers across the country. A New York Times article discussing -- you guessed it! -- boomers recently focused on an interesting subject that affects boomers in a quite singular way.
Namely, that is inheritances, with the Times noting that "there have never been as many heirs with as much money as now."