Like most, when you hear someone mention the words ‘estate planning,’ immediate thoughts come to mind of someone with beau coup bucks moving on to greener pastures, leaving a trust and mansion behind to loved ones. However, that isn’t always the case. Estate planning isn’t only for the rich and famous, it’s for those who want to create a plan for your loved ones, should something unforeseen happen to you.
“You don’t have to have anything to want to protect your kids. Estate planning is not about how much you have, it’s about how much you love them,” says Bernie Greenberg, Estate Planning Attorney for Kokish & Goldmanis P.C. Based in Castle Rock, Greenberg has worked to counsel and help people navigate through all the paperwork involving wills and estate and trust administration. ‘Every case is unique,’ giving him the opportunity to understand and work through a multitude of family scenarios.
35 years of practicing in the field, has also allowed him to make the process of estate planning as simple as possible to ensure that children and those left behind are taken care of, minus complications that can arise from faulty planning. Things don’t have to get complicated. “It may involve something as simple as a will and a guardianship statement,” Greenberg notes. Likewise, errors can be made by people who try do it yourself estate planning. “You’ll notice a disclaimer on the box that says not to use the documents you’ve created without having them checked by a qualified estate planning professional,” he warns of this common mistake.
“If you had died yesterday, how would you make sure that your family was taken care of?” Greenberg asks. ‘Dying Yesterday’ is a concept that Greenberg likes to use with clients to help lighten the weight of planning for the inevitable. His question begs to propose an impossibility, and instead makes it easier for those who enter into his office to start thing about the process. And with his knowledge and experience, he steps in to guide you to set goals that reach the end result.
So where do you begin? Greenberg suggests asking yourself and/or your spouse the following questions before you make your initial appointment with an estate planning attorney. Were you no longer able to care for those who depend on you:
1. (If you have children) Where would the kids live after you are gone?
2. Who will make decisions for you when you and/or your spouse can you or both no longer do so?
3. How long do the kids trusts go for? At what age can they access the money/ possessions that were left to them?
4. Who do you and/or your spouse trust to be responsible for the money/possessions should you die yesterday?