A Message from Your Friendly Neighborhood Estate Lawyer
Shortly after graduating law school, I took a job as an estate attorney. It wasn’t a particularly exciting gig, but I did learn an important lesson: the more painful it is to plan ahead, the more important it is to do so. As a species, we don’t enjoy thinking about what will happen to our families after we die or vice versa.
Plus, many people think “estate-planning” is something only the wealthy do or should do. It’s not. Of course, to a certain extent, it’s just a nice way of saying “legal tax evasion for rich people,” but there’s another side: pain evasion.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve witnessed families agonize for months over something that easily could have been resolved with a five or ten minute conversation with their now deceased loved-one. But no one wants to have these conversations, so we don’t…and we suffer for it later. For those of us living with mental illness, moreover, that suffering can be even worse.
One example: A mother leaves her estate to her son, and when she dies, the son happens to be manic. Instead of investing his inheritance wisely, he spends it all on drugs or strip clubs or bubble gum or any number of other lethal, degrading, and/or otherwise dumb, decadent items or activities.
Had mom put his inheritance into a trust to which he would only have access were he of sound mind and judgment, then she could have saved him and his remaining family a whole lot of grief.
I could present dozens of other examples here, but the message is the same: If you care for your family, plan ahead–even if it means having difficult conversations or shelling out a bit of cash for your friendly neighborhood estate lawyer.
And just to be clear, I no longer practice, so this isn’t me trying to drum up business.