Episode 13: Today, Louisville estate planning attorney Kelli Brown joins me to discuss important topics, including the March 20, 2020 launch of her 2nd book, Estate Planning When You Have Pets. Kelli has over 20 years of experience in helping individuals and families.
Kelli graduated from the University of Dayton. She earned her law degree from the Northern Kentucky Chase College of Law and her Masters of Laws in Estate Planning from the University of Miami. She’s licensed to practice in Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
Estate Planning Basics
The primary objective is to decide and document who should be in charge in the event of your incapacity or death. Your estate plan should include directions for medical care, finances and how your assets should be distributed.
If you don’t plan, the government plans for you.
While we don’t want to think about it, it could come into play more quickly that we think. You could be injured or killed in a traffic accident or while traveling. Once your child turns 18, he/she should have some of these documents in place. They need to specify someone to make medical decisions, now that they are considered an adult in the eyes of the law.
Important Estate Planning Documents
- Power of Attorney Document – specifies who can handle your finances, your business and other issues, on your behalf, even while you’re alive but cannot act for yourself. Remember to also name an alternate Power of Attorney (POA). These can be very specific or more general in nature.
- Living Will Directive (Healthcare Directive) – specifies who can make medical and related healthcare decisions, if you are incapacitated.
- Last Will and Testament – specifies what happens to your assets, after you pass away.
Common Mistakes People Make
- Fast Food Estate Planning – be careful of free dinner seminar presentations that turn into expensive sales pitches. The documents are often oversold based on fear and scare tactics.
- Failing to keep a digital inventory of your assets, accounts and passwords. Your heirs, trustee and or executor may not know how and/or where to find this important information. You need to update the lists of your information and providers.
- Not having a financial planner. You need a quarterback who can help you and your heirs to fully understand your finances. You may want to have a number of trusted advisors and an alternate(s).
- Not updating your documents and beneficiary designations after life changes (e.g. divorce, remarriage, sales of assets, birth of a child).
What if You Have an Addicted Child?
There’s a tremendous risk of your child blowing through substantial funds, and possibly engaging in self-harm, should they suddenly have access to a large amount of money. A trust can help to ensure the assets and money are better managed, on behalf of your addicted child. There are many ways to structure the trust of protect your child. Kelli’s book (see link, below) provided options you may want to consider.
How Can You Provide for Your Pets in a Trust?
Kelli’s new book will launch on March 20, 2020. If you have a pet, you may want to consider providing for the future care of your pet. A trust is one option to help you make it easier on the person who is going to help re-home your pet, upon your death. It’s important to think about the expenses related to veterinary expenses, food, grooming and other necessary events. It can also specify who will assume the care of your pet(s).
Important Final Thoughts
Make sure you discuss the cost of the estate planning services and documents. Know how much it costs, before you hire an attorney. You should feel comfortable the attorney and the fees should be reasonable.
Additionally, it’s important to remember your lawyer should not be appointed as your executor, trustee, attorney-in-fact. Your lawyer should be your “drafter” but not in a leadership role.
Can I Get Kelli Brown to Speak to My Organization?
Kelli speaks regularly on the estate planning topics. She’s available to make presentations to your group or organization. You can contact her via her personal profile (see link, below).