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Estate planning—it’s not about the money

Few people inherit anything, very few inherit much, and half the average inheritance is spent immediately. That’s what this study from 2012 says. I ran across the study through this New York Times article, which talks about a middle-aged woman who inherited $1 million. The article includes sensible advice for heirs from financial professionals: pay […]

What is asset protection?

When it comes to nursing homes and Medicaid, you often hear about “asset protection.” It’s a hot topic—who wouldn’t want to protect their assets? But asset protection is complex, and if something goes wrong your finances and your family could be in a lot of trouble. Protecting an asset means giving up control. At its […]

What is a trust, exactly?

“Do I need a trust?” It’s about the most common question I get. Trusts are one of the most complicated, confusing, and misunderstood pieces of estate planning. In this and following articles, I’m going to break them down and make trusts simple. First up: taking a step back to talk about what a trust is. […]

How virtual meetings make estate planning simple

Traditional estate planning is not simple, and a big reason for that is meetings. Traditional meetings are on the lawyer’s terms Traditional estate planning involves three to four meetings (usually), over the course of six to eight weeks. All of these meetings are: In person, At the lawyer’s office, and During business hours. Some people […]

The real reasons you need a will

The no. 2 reason for not having a will is “I don’t have enough assets to leave to anyone.” But it’s a misconception that estate planning is only about who gets your assets. That’s just one part—and often not the most important.

What “simple estate planning” really means

Most people, when you ask them, want their estate planning to be one thing: simple. Seasoned lawyers will tell you that “simple” really means “cheap.” Don’t bother with people who worry about your fee is their advice. But that advice is, in part, why so many people don’t have an estate plan. When people want […]

The problem with traditional estate planning

The problem with traditional estate planning is it doesn’t work for most people. I know that because 58% of American adults don’t have a will. That number is even higher when you limit it to those with young children. Why don’t more people have an estate plan? After all, most people seem to know it’s […]

A simple manifesto

Sir Ernest Gowers wrote Plain Words, a guide for the British Civil Service on how to write to members of the public. That is, he was telling bureaucrats how to “explain the law to the millions.” He gave three elementary rules: Be short. Be simple. Be human. Later in the book, he added a fourth: […]