Life Planning

Estates and Probate are very broad topics encompassing much more than a will, or even a trust.  The field is rife with myths and mischaracterizations and the unscrupulous who take advantage of the public.  There are many so-called "mills" pushing one-size fits all plans that may do nothing to address a client's concern.  Worse, the clients often are given no understanding of what they've purchased let alone how to implement or use the plan.

I first encountered this when my parents asked for help with a "living trust" they had purchased just weeks before I graduated law school.  As I dug into this "estate plan" six years after it had been purchased, I discovered the trust had never been properly funded, that the majority of my parent's assets were still held in their individual names rather than placed "in-trust," and that virtually all the benefits of a trust had been forfeited.

My parents had been sold promises, about 100 pages of word processor boiler plate and a nice padded binder.  There was no genuine effort to understand my parents' needs or hopes.  I'm sure they did purchase a sense of comfort, but it is often said, "ignorance is bliss."  I first educated myself, then began educating them.  Working together we made use of the trust along with an amendment I authored, and met their expectations.

That happy ending is too uncommon.  So many plans don't consider a client's current priorities or sacrifice adequate protection for beneficiaries.  Even more frequent are unexecuted plans because walking out of their lawyer's office the client thought the documents tucked under her arm were a magic bullet that took care of everything.  Even if these objectives were initially met, is the plan still current or so out-of-date as to have become ineffective, or worse counterproductive.  Is the approach even necessary or was it financially inefficient? I would like to help you avoid those pitfalls.

Lastly, there is the ultimate consideration--the end of your own life.  Many estate plans and planners ignore the obvious.  While your life, your spouse's life and others are an important part of the plan, it is a huge part that we are talking about your death.  That process can be very difficult.  Modern medicine can extend life far beyond its ability to preserve its quality.  Even when life remains joyful, the infirmity of advancing years can render managing business affairs challenging if not impossible.  A comprehensive estate plan considers these circumstances as well.

I want to do for you and your loved ones what I did for my own parents.  I want to appraise your circumstances honestly and guide you toward sensible choices about living, dying and legacy.  Whether that means healthcare directives, powers of attorney, multiple complex trusts funding different generations of heirs, or utilizing non-probate techniques to direct modest assets in the manner you decide.  The first step is listening, the second is answering direct questions, the third is explaining options, fourth preparing the work and fifth teaching how it all fits together and works.

I'll gladly discuss your planning needs with you.  After you've reviewed the information on this site, I'll happily talk over the particular facts of your situation.  Either on the phone or in-person.  Please schedule an appointment today by calling 816-479-5797 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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