Tips for Overcoming the 7 Barriers to Estate Planning

24 November 2015 lawreynold Articles

Your Legacy Lives was created to help Californians overcome the 7 deadly barriers to completing their estate plans.  Here’s how: 

Barrier #1 “I don’t know.”

Most people don’t know that the State of California controls their life and death when they become incapacitated or pass away.  Like no other online document system, fun and educational videos are provided at to empower you and your loved ones to know exactly what your plan will be and how avoid the state’s system called probate court.  If you still “don’t know” send in a question to “Ask the Attorney” and each week, Attorney Heather Reynolds will answer you.


Barrier #2 “I don’t have an estate.”

Many people don’t think they need an estate plan because, “I don’t have an estate.”  This is a myth.  Estate planning is not just for the wealthy.  The probate court steps in to run your life at incapacity no matter how little money you have.  Your body itself deserves to have an Advance Healthcare Directive because without it, no one has authority to talk to your healthcare provider or make medical decisions for you without a court order.   This one document saves families from fighting about whether to keep you alive on life support machines if there’s no hope or recovery.


Barrier #3 “I don’t want to talk about it.”

Many people find it difficult to discuss their plans for death and/or incapacity for emotional reasons.  The “Ask the Attorney” videos use humor to play with the subject instead of being too serious about it.  You can share them with friends and family to laugh about it all.  The regular webinars by Attorney Heather Reynolds also lighten the subject by sharing jokes and personal anecdotes of how these issues play out in real life.


Barrier #4 “I can’t afford it.

Most of us don’t have a budget for $2000-3500 that it regularly costs to hire an attorney to set up an estate plan that includes a trust.  We also can’t afford not to do it — an average home in Alameda would cost our family about $45,000 to go through probate instead.  So was designed to cost 1/3 of what you would normally pay, without losing the quality.  This is possible by having YOU fill in the blanks on the forms rather than an attorney.  Don’t worry – you’re given enough guidance to do it yourself. 


Barrier #5 “I’m not going to die.”

Most of us are in denial about this truth – but no matter – focus on what happens if you’re still alive, but not able to sign checks, pay bills or make your own medical decisions.  Without a power of attorney form, your family will be in the probate court asking permission from the judge to handle your affairs.  Without a HIPAA release, no one can speak to your healthcare providers, let alone make decisions for you.


Barrier #6 “I don’t have time.”

This is not a myth – it’s true for most of us nowadays.  We recommend setting aside 2 hours a week (Thursday nights from 8-10 for example) for 3 to 4 weeks if you need a family trust package.  It took my mother 1 hour to prepare the will package after dinner one night.  Get a buddy to do it with you, schedule it on your calendar, arrange for a sitter so you can focus.


Barrier #7 “I don’t know who to name.”

The most difficult decision for most parents to make is who to name as the guardians of their minor children.  Remember, this job is only for the first 18 years, not forever.  They don’t have to be perfect – they just have to be better than whomever a judge will name if you say nothing.  Choose the best person for NOW knowing you can always change your mind and redo your will later.  There can be more than one guardian – one for handling the money and one for raising your children.  The guardian doesn’t have to be good at both.  They can work together.

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