BRMM Law’s Danielle Mayoras recently appeared on “Smart Women Talk,” a podcast hosted by Midlife Millionaire Coach Katana Abbott, CFP, CSA. In the episode, Danielle discussed some of the most important things that people should know about estate planning, elder law, and special needs planning and how to approach these topics with loved ones. Here are some of the topics Danielle talked about on the show:
The Type of Estate Plan You Need
One of the points Danielle highlighted on the podcast is that estate planning isn’t just for older adults. In fact, different types of estate plans are needed at various stages of life. The first time a person should think about estate planning is at the age of 18. The plan should be revisited when they are starting their careers, have children, and periodically as they grow older. It may also be necessary to revise an estate plan if there are changes in the family dynamics or in a person’s financial situation.
While financial decisions can often wait, medical decisions cannot — and unfortunately, accidents can arise at any time. This is why at the age of 18, every individual should have a durable power of attorney for health care in place at the very least. Once a person reaches the age of majority, their parents no longer have the authority to make medical decisions for them. This means that without a durable power of attorney for health care the probate court would need to determine who can make these decisions in the event of an accident resulting in incapacity.
When a couple has children, they may need to update their estate plan to include an appointment of a guardian. This is the individual who would have legal custody if anything were to happen to the parents while the children are minors. Provisions should also be carefully thought out to determine how and when the estate assets would be distributed to the couple’s children.
When adults are older, an estate plan should be reviewed before incapacity arises. A plan for incapacity and long-term care should be put into place, in addition to arranging for the distribution of assets. While most people are familiar with a last will and testament, there are a number of tools that can be used to help ensure an individual’s wishes are carried out, including many types of trusts.
The Importance of Working with an Estate Planning Attorney
Any attorney may be able to draft a basic will. But it’s important to work with an attorney who specifically focuses on estate planning to ensure the proper documents are in place and the correct language is used in them. Danielle emphasized to listeners of the podcast that not only is it important to have estate planning documents, but it’s essential to have comprehensive and good documents. Critically, every “what if” and situation that could arise should be addressed in a solid estate plan.If your estate planning documents are not thorough and comprehensive, they will not adequately protect you and your loved ones.
Another benefit of working with an estate planning attorney is that they can help you brainstorm and work through certain issues, including who you should designate as a durable power of attorney, trustee, executor, or beneficiary. They can also assist you with implementing strategies that help you achieve your objectives when it comes to more complex matters such as Medicaid planning and Special Needs planning.
How to Have the Estate Planning Conversation with Your Loved Ones
An estate plan doesn’t have to be about death and dying. However, many people still view estate planning in a morbid way, making it a difficult subject to bring up with loved ones. It might not be easy to approach the topic, but it is necessary — it’s also important to do so before a loved one is no longer mentally competent to execute the documents.
“I call it the ‘dreaded conversation’ because no one wants to think about it. But really when we talk about estate planning, it’s truly an act of love,” Danielle explained to Katana in the podcast. “There’s really no greater act of love that you can do than planning for your own future, and also for the future of those that you love, to make sure your assets go to who you want, how you want, the way you want.”
To help motivate families to bring up the topic of estate planning, Danielle co-authored a book with her husband, Andrew Mayoras, who is also a partner at BRMM Law. Danielle talked about the bestselling book on the podcast, titled Trial & Heirs: Famous Fortune Fights!, which she said uses celebrity stories as conversation starters to discuss these issues. The book is a guide to help families avoid making the same celebrity mistakes in their own estate plans and avoid the potential for family disputes.
More information about the book can be found at DanielleAndAndy.com.