True Story: One of the most dreadful experiences that I have ever had to deal with was the loss of my mother in 2015. My mom was not only my superhero, but quite honestly, she was my best friend and my greatest support system! But do you know what made the experience of losing my mom 1000 times more painful? It was having to make business decisions for my grieving family amid being in shambles myself.
Many of you have likely heard of estate planning tools such as Wills, Trusts, and Life Insurance; but how many of you have heard about the experiences of the family members of people who have passed without these instruments in place (“Intestate Decedent”)? If you have not, let me give you some examples of the issues these family members must deal with.
Who will pay for the funeral? Who will take over the mortgage of the decedent’s home? How can the decedent’s home be transferred into the name of a third party? Who will take care of the minor children of the decedent? How will the expenses of the decedent’s minor children be paid for? How can one locate any insurance policies of the decedent? Will one have to pay the debts of the decedent?
These questions are not even a quarter of the questions that loved ones of an Intestate Decedent typically ask. And do you know what generation is most likely going to be affected by Intestate Decedents in 2021? Millennials!
Millennials in 2021 are between the ages of 25 and 40. Some of us are the parents of minor children and the children of retirees. We are the parties expected to make the major decisions for our families because we are now the “adults”. We are also at the “asset acquiring” age and at the stage of paying off debt. We are the generation first introduced to the information age, and therefore, we are expected to have all of the answers. And even with all of this responsibility loaded on us, some of us are still unfamiliar and worse, unprepared, when faced with making decisions regarding estate planning.
Are you starting to get the picture yet? Let me make it plain. We are now the primary decision makers! We can either be (i) proactive about establishing generational wealth and reducing liabilities associated with death, (ii) be reactive and deal with the frustration of scrambling to find the answers when our relatives die or (iii) be inactive, which will leave our children and future generations unprotected. In my previous blog post I provided some education around estate planning. You can check it out at the following link if you are interested: https://www.evlawgroup.org/post/estate-planning ; but, this blog post isn’t necessarily about educating you on the what(s) and how(s) of estate planning, but instead getting you to understand the WHY(s)!
Estate planning is the catalyst of creating generational wealth! It can either be a tool you can use to provide your family with the opportunity to start a life without debt, to have funding for startup businesses, or to get an education without loans; or it can be the thing you wish you would have spoken to your parents about long before their passing/ the thing your children wish you would have been educated enough about to implement. I know how fundamental it is to provide our lineages with a “head start”.
So let’s circle back to my own experience. My mom was the first of her generation and her parent’s generation to leave an inheritance for our family and I am forever grateful for it; but to say that it went without some negative side effects, because there was no estate plan, would be a lie! My brothers and I fell out for over a year because of miscommunication and distrust. A real estate agent cheated us out of a $30k+ commission because we were not informed enough about the commercial real estate process to know that she was not entitled to the commission. I personally had to chuck out $50k of my own inheritance to cover bills associated with assets we all inherited and to avoid foreclosure on one of my mother’s properties. And I can probably assure you that each of us made unwise decisions in regard to spending some of that inheritance that a trust could have saved us from! I say to that to say, learn more about the process, talk to your parents about implementing a plan, and be sure to implement a plan for your own heirs! I assure you; this is one conversation worth having!