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You Need to Plan Even If You Don't Have an Estate
by Jacqueline Skay

Last Sunday night/Monday morning at 1:30 am, I received a call from my brother who lives in L.A. He was in tears. My sister-in-law had made dinner Friday night and a little later in the evening started feeling seriously ill. They rushed her to the hospital. She was kept for observation overnight. On Saturday they ran tests. About 8:00 pm on Sunday they took her in for exploratory abdominal surgery. A little after midnight they came out and told my brother she would not make it through the night. She made it through the night so they upped her chance of survival to ten percent. It's now ten days later. She has not regained consciousness and her condition is still critical.

My brother has raised her daughter since the girl was four years old. She's now almost fifteen. My brother tells me the older two daughters are now saying they want to come into the house and take things they think their mother would want them to have. There are disagreements about who should get what and they are beginning to disagree about who should raise the younger girl. My brother is deeply hurt that they have the audacity and even the energy to focus on anything other than their mother's recovery right now. The door for this hurt and dissention was wide open because my own brother and sister-in-law have done absolutely no estate planning. They are both in their early sixties - certainly too young to be thinking about dying. My sister-in-law never put her wishes in writing even regarding the simplest things like who she would want to finish raising the youngest girl.

Contrast this with a wonderful man and his nineteen year old daughter who came into my office that very same Monday. This man lost his wife about five years ago and now he is told he has about a month to live. He is hopeful that will be wrong but, he has two children, the nineteen year old daughter and a fifteen year old son, who may very well soon be without any parents. Because he is still completely competent, he gets to make his own decisions about his children's future. We have now completed a trust and other documents and arrangements for the continuation of the college education of the nineteen year old and the guardianship and trust administration of the minor until he reaches age twenty five.

Because of the relatively new privacy laws (HIPAA), everyone should have a new advance health care directive, which should be effective immediately. This allows you to name an agent to speak to doctors on your behalf if you become incapacitated and to obtain your medical records if necessary to effectuate powers in a durable power of attorney and/or trust.

Anyone who has minor children should have, at least, a will nominating a first and second choice for guardian of the person (who will raise the child(ren) and a first and second choice for guardian of the estate (who will handle the money until each child reaches an appropriate age). The appropriate age is dependent on the size of the estate and the maturity and intellect of each child.

The specifics of the planning will vary with every individual and family. That is not my point here. My point is simply, if you've done your estate planning, be certain you keep it current. And, spread the word. I never asked my big brother about his personal business - and now I can't tell you how sorry I am that I didn't.
Newsletters

  1. Beneficiary Designations:
    An Often Forgotten Key in Trust Funding
  2. How Do You Hold Title to Your House?
  3. Lower Cost Alternative to Probate
  4. Prenup May Be a Very Loving Gift
  5. You Need to Plan Even If You Don't Have an Estate
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
Copyright 2018 © by Jacqueline M. Skay. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.
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760.745.7576
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OUR NEWSLETTERS

You Need to Plan Even If You Don't Have an Estate
by Jacqueline Skay

Last Sunday night/Monday morning at 1:30 am, I received a call from my brother who lives in L.A. He was in tears. My sister-in-law had made dinner Friday night and a little later in the evening started feeling seriously ill. They rushed her to the hospital. She was kept for observation overnight. On Saturday they ran tests. About 8:00 pm on Sunday they took her in for exploratory abdominal surgery. A little after midnight they came out and told my brother she would not make it through the night. She made it through the night so they upped her chance of survival to ten percent. It's now ten days later. She has not regained consciousness and her condition is still critical.

My brother has raised her daughter since the girl was four years old. She's now almost fifteen. My brother tells me the older two daughters are now saying they want to come into the house and take things they think their mother would want them to have. There are disagreements about who should get what and they are beginning to disagree about who should raise the younger girl. My brother is deeply hurt that they have the audacity and even the energy to focus on anything other than their mother's recovery right now. The door for this hurt and dissention was wide open because my own brother and sister-in-law have done absolutely no estate planning. They are both in their early sixties - certainly too young to be thinking about dying. My sister-in-law never put her wishes in writing even regarding the simplest things like who she would want to finish raising the youngest girl.

Contrast this with a wonderful man and his nineteen year old daughter who came into my office that very same Monday. This man lost his wife about five years ago and now he is told he has about a month to live. He is hopeful that will be wrong but, he has two children, the nineteen year old daughter and a fifteen year old son, who may very well soon be without any parents. Because he is still completely competent, he gets to make his own decisions about his children's future. We have now completed a trust and other documents and arrangements for the continuation of the college education of the nineteen year old and the guardianship and trust administration of the minor until he reaches age twenty five.

Because of the relatively new privacy laws (HIPAA), everyone should have a new advance health care directive, which should be effective immediately. This allows you to name an agent to speak to doctors on your behalf if you become incapacitated and to obtain your medical records if necessary to effectuate powers in a durable power of attorney and/or trust.

Anyone who has minor children should have, at least, a will nominating a first and second choice for guardian of the person (who will raise the child(ren) and a first and second choice for guardian of the estate (who will handle the money until each child reaches an appropriate age). The appropriate age is dependent on the size of the estate and the maturity and intellect of each child.

The specifics of the planning will vary with every individual and family. That is not my point here. My point is simply, if you've done your estate planning, be certain you keep it current. And, spread the word. I never asked my big brother about his personal business - and now I can't tell you how sorry I am that I didn't.


  1. Beneficiary Designations:
    An Often Forgotten Key in Trust Funding
  2. How Do You Hold Title to Your House?
  3. Lower Cost Alternative to Probate
  4. Prenup May Be a Very Loving Gift
  5. You Need to Plan Even If You Don't Have an Estate
The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.
PRIVACY POLICY
Copyright 2018 © by Jacqueline M. Skay. All rights reserved. You may reproduce materials available at this site for your own personal use and for non-commercial distribution. All copies must include this copyright statement.