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How can Busy Wills, Inc. make my life easier?


CHALLENGE #1: TIME

Busy Wills, Inc. makes your life easier by saving you time. In less than the time it takes to drive across town for a face-to-face meeting, you can complete a short questionnaire and be well on your way to creating an estate plan.

There are situations when being interviewed at someone else’s office is appropriate – Busy Wills, Inc. believes that estate planning is not a situation in which you benefit from attending someone else’s office. Busy Californians would rather deal with their attorneys over the telephone or internet or else receive a house call. The relevant documents are at your home or office, so Busy Wills, Inc. interviews you at the more convenient place. You cannot know which documents to bring to your attorney’s office until you know what questions will be asked. Busy Wills, Inc. streamlines the process of creating an estate plan.

Busy Wills, Inc. recognizes that time is not just money – it’s life. Save your time off for the beach.

CHALLENGE #2: STRESS

Busy Wills, Inc. makes your life easier by minimizing your stress. You never have to leave your home or office to move the process forward. Busy Wills, Inc. is dedicated to client-oriented service.

The process of estate planning can itself be a stress-reliever. The future is uncertain and we all have concerns about how our children and other loved ones will cope as challenges arise. We may worry about what will happen if we are unable to continue to earn or are incapacitated. Even when we are not consciously thinking about these issues, they can increase our stress levels.

Here’s an example familiar to parents – how can we continue to influence our children lead purposeful lives after our death? A living trust can provide mechanisms for influencing children to do well at school and in life by incentivizing them through access to funds. In the absence of an estate plan, your barely-adult children may come into a large amount of money on your death and be broke very soon afterwards. Take control by creating an estate plan.

Are you worried about your daughter’s rocky marriage? Or about your son’s drug habits? Does one of your children tend towards depression? Are you the person they turn to when the going gets rough? Family life has its stressful moments. A well thought-out estate plan can ensure that your family continues to thrive through crises and that your wishes are carried out even after your death.

Creating an estate plan is a process of facing possible future challenges and tying up the loose ends. Instead of waiting for a crisis to arise, an estate plan puts in place the best preparation for unknown future contingencies. Once the right plan is in place, a burden is lifted. You can feel satisfied that your duties as a responsible family member are fulfilled. Your life will be easier because you have less stress – you can live every day as though it is your last.

CHALLENGE #3: DEALING WITH LEGAL COMPLEXITIES

Busy Wills, Inc. makes your life easier by dealing with legal complexities for you.

You do not have to grapple with a purely on-line computer software program which cannot provide legal advice. At Busy Wills, Inc., your estate planning documents will be drafted according to your individual circumstances and our in-depth legal knowledge.

It is a privilege to serve those we most admire – people fulfilling their responsibilities to loved ones. Busy Wills, Inc. creates estate plans for busy people in California, providing valuable advice with no hassle, at an affordable fixed price.

© 2011 – 2017 Busy Wills, Inc.

Attorney Advertising: This article has been prepared for general informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice.


How can Busy Wills, Inc. save me money?


MINIMIZE OR ELIMINATE PROBATE FEES

At the moment, we have a very favorable estate tax situation in the United States, so that if you pass away this year, at least the first $5 million of your estate will not be subject to estate tax. However, in California, we have rather steep probate fees, so that for estates with a nice family home and a nest egg, tens of thousands of dollars can be spent on probate fees. Establishing and funding a living trust can remove assets from your probate estate, potentially saving your loved ones tens of thousands of dollars.

AFFORDABLE FIXED PRICE

Busy Wills, Inc. saves you money by offering services at an affordable fixed price. The various estate planning packages found on busywills.com include everything needed by the vast majority of busy Californians to protect their loved ones in the event of death or incapacity. Other documents necessary for your unique circumstances are available at a reasonable fixed fee.

CONVENIENCE

Busy Wills, Inc. saves you money by providing convenience. Busy Wills, Inc. recognizes that time is money. Combine online convenience and in-depth telephone or in-person consultations so that you receive personalized service without ever having to leave your home or office. Time is not just money – it’s life. Save your days off for the beach.

INDIVIDUALIZED ADVICE FOR YOUR UNIQUE CIRCUMSTANCES

Busy Wills, Inc. saves you money through our advice. Attorney Elizabeth Botsford has a master’s degree in tax law from Loyola Law School. There are many ways that creating an estate plan can help you and your loved ones save money. Our packages provide the opportunity to discuss the possibilities and implement the right ones for you.

NURTURE YOUR LOVED ONES

Traditionally, a large majority of people in California have not created estate plans. Increasingly, however, people realize that being a responsible family member requires them to face this task. It is not luck which enables some families to thrive after bereavement, but a well-designed estate plan. Estate plans are not solely tax planning instruments, but rather they uniquely provide many important ways to nurture loved ones after death or incapacity.

THE RIGHT TOOLS FOR THE JOB

When it comes to choosing the right tool for the job of creating an estate plan, the most enthusiastic and responsible person can feel daunted.

SHOPPING FOR LAW FIRMS

On the one hand, there are traditional law firms with marble lined reception halls charging hundreds of dollars per hour. This is a model geared towards business clients, which generally deduct legal fees from their taxes, and thus do not bear the full “rack rate”. Legal fees from estate planning are generally not tax deductible and thus paying the same hourly rate is inappropriate for the majority of individuals, although it remains an option for the richest families.

ON-LINE SOFTWARE

On the other hand, there are purely on-line estate planning services. These are computer programs which churn out estate plans, without providing any advice or personalized attention. No attorney-client relationship exists so customers do without the protections and ethical standards required by the State Bar of California. Horror stories abound on the internet. One example is when people hold most of their net worth in IRAs or 401(k)s. They use an on-line computer program to create a will, but fail to change the beneficiary designations on their financial accounts (which may still reflect a prior relationship or leave out a new baby). On death, the assets do not pass through their will, but to the designated beneficiary. The money spent on the will was wasted, but their loved ones lost so much more. This type of scenario can easily lead to quarrels between family members who might be better off supporting each other in their grief.

BUSY WILLS, INC. SAVES YOU MONEY

Busy Wills, Inc creates estate plans for busy people in California, combining valuable advice and personalized service with on-line convenience, at an affordable fixed price. Busy Wills, Inc. aims to integrate the right money-saving techniques into each unique attorney-drafted estate plan. You never have to leave your home or office to move the process forward.


Estate Planning Promotes Family Harmony


DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING NO ESTATE PLAN

Estate planning is the one area of law in which clients proactively choose to search for an attorney. In every other area of law, clients are forced by circumstance to react by seeking legal counsel. Whether they are getting divorced, being sued or selling a business, it is life’s particular circumstances and the imperative of deadlines that drive them into the market for a good lawyer. By contrast, estate planning can be put off indefinitely, often with tragic consequences for those left behind.

If you have no estate plan, the State of California decides who will receive your assets on your death and who will look after your minor children. The Probate Code’s broad-brush approach may not fit with your individual circumstances.

If you have no estate plan, whoever ends up looking after your minor children will have to petition the court when money from your estate needs to be spent. This is an expensive and cumbersome way of living. Taking responsibility now enables your child’s guardian to focus his or her energies on caring for the child, rather than on unnecessary administrative burdens.

If your spouse may remarry after your death, your children will thank you for setting up an estate plan which protects their interests

If your child may divorce, his or her inheritance is far better protected from the estranged spouse’s claims of commingling if left in a trust than if your child received the assets outright because you did not create an estate plan.

There are many other reasons that family life continues more harmoniously with an estate plan in place – from reducing your tax burden to influencing your young people to stay in school. An estate plan can add greatly to your family harmony.

BUILDING A FOUNDATION FOR A HARMONIOUS FUTURE

Very often, being open about your estate plan is the best way to ensure that in the aftermath of your demise the family remains united. In the majority of cases, it is better to inform your family members what to expect. Particularly if your assets will not be equally shared between your children, it usually better to explain your decision now rather than leave people guessing.

How you leave your assets may be interpreted as a definitive statement about who you love the most, who you trust the most and who you most appreciate. Explaining your dispositive plans can make the difference in ensuring your death results in the family uniting to protect the best interests of every grieving relative.

It’s usually better to face one’s insecurities, take courage and try to get everyone on board with the best plan for your family.

HARMONY BETWEEN SPOUSES AND PARTNERS

Victorian melodramas are full of flowery descriptions about high romance, but when the young man approaches his beloved’s father for her hand in marriage, the conversation takes place behind closed doors. The author skirts over exactly what is being said. Yet this is the discussion we all need to have about money. The father is vetting the young man about not just his actual wealth or even his prospects, but about his attitude towards money. The father knows that if the young man’s attitudes mirror his own, the daughter will feel well-looked after. If the two young people come from families with similar beliefs about money, it’s less likely to be a source of conflict.

Nowadays men and women are expected to make their own arrangements about getting married. But instead of insisting on carrying out this conversation themselves, the need to spell out their exact expectations is often ignored until the stress caused becomes unbearable. It takes maturity from both parties to have this discussion, but if it is too much of a challenge, better to know now than after you are married.

HARMONY ACROSS GENERATIONS

Having a seat at the adult table requires us to face up to our financial reality and to find the right words to discuss it with others.

Whatever your financial situation, a stony silence within the family on the subject of money can only cause further disconnect. Family life is more harmonious when everyone is working towards common goals. Being allies on the same team makes everyone feel more loved, as well as actually making the goals more achievable. Positively influence your young people’s attitudes towards earning, saving, investment and spending by discussing financial realities.

If you are part of the “sandwich” generation (sandwiched between the sometimes disparate needs of seniors and offspring) then you know that intergenerational roles can be very tricky to get right. If you wish you had better communication with your parents regarding the family finances, use that lesson in developing a more open, fruitful discussion about money with your own children now.

Creating an estate plan is a good place to start the conversation. At the very least, you will make a tally of your financial assets, giving you a greater understanding of your successes to date and the challenges you face.

Choosing to have an appropriate family discussion about the situation can be very empowering. We may assume that children should not be needlessly burdened about the details of family finances, but in reality, they may be silently fretting as they see their adults laboring under difficult circumstances. Or they may have overheard us griping about the cost of living and not know whether to take those off-the-cuff remarks seriously. It is for us grown-ups to initiate the discussion and set the emotional tenor for dealing with money. Children can be very responsible about money, given the chance. In the absence of any such discussion, we miss the opportunity to pass on our ethics and our cultural beliefs about how to deal with finances. That’s a duty that must be fulfilled.


Estate Planning As Proactive Crisis Management


CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?

In California, we are encouraged to plan ahead for emergencies such as earthquakes – we should nominate someone out of state for all our family members to pass telephone messages through, our children should take an emergency survival kit to school including a first aid kit, blanket and comforting photos of the family pets.

In reality, far more Californians are affected everyday by road traffic accidents, untimely heart attacks or other tragedies than by earthquakes. What crisis plans do you have for your loved ones in the event of your untimely death or incapacity? What plan will maximize your chance of being well cared for after a serious injury?

ESTATE PLANS AS EMERGENCY SURVIVAL KITS

An estate plan is your emergency survival kit. It contains documents which work together, easing you and your loved ones into a better future.

None of us can know the nature of future crises, but the legal documents in an estate plan are the best tools the law has devised for covering many of the unexpectedly grim situations faced by families every day. The trick is – these documents must be in place before the emergency arises – when you still have time to think through the best options available and you have the legal capacity to ensure the documents take effect. Tackling emergencies proactively and in advance maximizes the chances of a good outcome. Waiting for emergencies to arise and having to react, unprepared, in unnerving circumstances invites largely avoidable heartache. Once you no longer have legal capacity, for example because of a serious blow to the head, it is too late to create these documents.

One of the most common emergencies in California is the road traffic accident. How might an estate plan help your family?

ADVANCE HEALTHCARE DIRECTIVE

Many road traffic accidents are not fatal, but result in serious injuries. A “living will” or advance healthcare directive directs doctors to cooperate with a person of your choosing (your “healthcare agent”) in deciding what care you should receive in the event you are unable to decide yourself. You need to choose this healthcare agent wisely – it should probably be someone who lives near you or a close family member, someone who will be assertive but calm and polite under stress, someone who will listen carefully and intelligently to emergency room doctors and be able to process information quickly and cooperate with them.

Your advance healthcare directive also determines whether you will be kept alive on a ventilator even if there is little or no chance of recovery. It is very important to make this decision in advance to avoid placing a traumatic burden on family members in an already stressful situation. Without an advance healthcare directive, your family members, who may know your intentions, will have little input with regards to your care. You will have no-one to advocate for you in, potentially, an extremely busy hospital waiting room.

NOMINATION OF CONSERVATOR

Many people do survive traumatic injury, but are unable to look after themselves in the medium or long term. If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, the court will appoint a conservator to make those decisions for you.

There are conservators of the estate who make decisions relating to your assets and conservators of the body who make decisions relating to your way of life. The same person can fulfill both functions. If you sign a nomination of conservator while you are still able to make decisions for yourself, then you can save yourself and your family a lot of heartache. In the absence of a signed nomination of conservator, a judge will decide who should be your conservator.

There are many professional conservators. They charge substantial fees. If a professional conservator is appointed by the court and your family challenges that decision, the professional conservator is entitled to use your assets to pay for an attorney to defend the appointment. This can be very expensive.

WILL

Over one hundred people a day die in road traffic accidents in the United States. How does your estate plan prepare for this emergency? A will provides for the disposition of assets after your death. Nowadays, many wills are “pour-over” wills, which means they leave assets primarily to a trust and the assets are then divided up according to the trust provisions. Your will is also the document in which you nominate guardians to care for your minor children in the event of your death.

Without a will, your children and your assets will be subject to the provisions of the California Probate Code, which may not provide the best possible outcome in your individual circumstances.

Courts supervise the passing of assets through wills – this is called probate. Many assets also pass through probate when the deceased has no estate plan. Probate can be a lengthy, cumbersome and expensive process. Your absence, as the breadwinner, may require that the family downsizes or refinances the mortgage on the family home. Probate increases the complexity of dealings relating to the family home. That’s one of the reasons people create living trusts.

LIVING TRUST

Assets such as the family home can be placed into a living trust during your life. The trust terms set out what will happen to those assets in the event of your death or incapacity. Typically, the surviving spouse will continue to serve as trustee in the event of your death and he or she can continue to manage the assets as necessary. This empowers the family by providing continuity during a time of grief. Sign up for Busy Wills, Inc.’s free mini-course in estate planning to find out more about how living trusts can help you and your loved ones.

POWER OF ATTORNEY

Your estate plan includes another document essential for any emergency survival kit – a power of attorney. There are many way in which a power of attorney can help you and your family survive perilous times. The different types of powers of attorney require their own article for a full explanation. That’s why powers of attorney are the subject of our next blog entry – so please follow the Busy WIlls, Inc. blog for more information.

Emergency plans help families survive misfortune. An estate plan provides the legally recognized documents to empower your family in the event of your death or incapacity. It is not luck which enables some families to thrive in the aftermath of tragedy – it is a well-designed estate plan.

Busy Wills, Inc. is honored to serve those we most admire – busy Californians taking responsibility for their loved ones. Access valuable advice with no hassle, at an affordable price.


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