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Nobody wants to think about dying and what happens afterword. I’m not talking about whether we go to heaven or hell or ascend to nirvana or whatever…I’m talking about the day-to-day practical messes that we leave behind for our loved ones. That’s why it’s extremely important to get your affairs in order. A couple of years ago, I watched as a client passed away 18 hours before closing on her home. She died intestate, which meant no trust, no will, no nothing. The whole matter had to go to probate. It took 13 months to untangle everything, but the heirs were finally able to close on the home.

There’s never a good time to think about…☠️…so now’s a good as time as any. Since we bought our home, this is something that’s crossed my mind. After watching my poor clients suffer through the ebbs and flows of the court system during COVID, I realized that it’s incredibly important⁉️ to get my own affairs in order. And so I’ve been looking at the “Data Sheet for Estate Planning” from my attorney Ralph Andino for the better part of six (yes, that’s a 6) weeks…figured I might as well just dig in and get started.

Trust vs. Will

First up, what are we doing? Will or Trust? And what’s the difference? [As a reminder, I am not an attorney and don’t pretend to be, and that you should really talk to an expert like Ralph to get the proper, legal answer.] Now that’s out of the way…

According to Suze Orman, a will is a legal document outlining how you want things to go after you die. A trust is a legal document that can continue to grow with you over time and that outlines how you would like your affairs to be handled. She strongly encourages people to have both. A trust generally only deals with larger assets (who gets the Ferrari and who gets the Honday) while a will deals with the nitty-gritty, granular details (like who is going to take care of the kids?). Both instruments are equally important.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.

Ernest Hemmingway

Who’s Running the Assylum?

It’s the inmates 🤪, right? Regardless of who you choose, there has to be someone (semi)responsible to be in charge of making sure that your wishes are carried out. For those of you who have adult children, the responsibility can sure fall to them. For the rest of us who have minor (and very young adult) children, probably not so much.

So yes, I am a West Wing fan, but I figure that finding your Chief of Staff is akin to finding the executor of your estate (small or large, doesn’t matter). I encourage you to find an attorney who specializes in estate planning. You can never start too soon…only too late.

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