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Does Debt Follow The Death Of A Parent with Schraeder Law, LLC
Episode 554th July 2022 • Looking Forward Our Way • Carol Ventresca and Brett Johnson
00:00:00 00:34:24

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Debt doesn’t simply disappear when someone dies. If you’re concerned that your parents’ debt might outlive them, consider talking to an estate planning attorney like Larae Schraeder from Schraeder Law, LLC, our guest on this episode.

She's a listener favorite, so we had to bring her back!

After we saw an article on a website called “Nerdwallet” about the responsibilities adult children may face if their parent dies with financial debt. We immediately thought of our guest, Larae Schraeder, as the expert we needed to address the subject.

Get ready for another fact-filled episode, including...

Life transitions – how to be prepared ahead of time

  • Having the “conversation” with parents on death issues before they are unable to do so
  • How to explain the complexity of wills, etc.  Difference between wills/trusts/estates
  • Documents: healthcare power of attorney, power of attorney, estate documentation, financial accounts

How to stay on top of parents’ needs

  • Make sure they are not creating unnecessary debt
  • Make sure they are paying bills, keeping track of paperwork, paying taxes, etc.
  • How to ensure that the decision-makers (e.g., executor) will have the best interest in the parent/older adult in mind as they discuss issues with them.  And how to ensure other family members are in agreement/understanding and kept in the loop
  • Mediation options when family members disagree or the older individual is at risk

When are children responsible for the parental debt?

  • Are there different types of debt – some must be paid, others not?
  • Does the estate change because of the debt (e.g., reducing the estate)
  • What is paid first?  (e.g., federal taxes, Medicaid, etc.)
  • How are homes/dwellings dealt with?  Cars, property, etc.?
  • Does the size of the estate change the outcome?

Resources available both locally and to a wider audience

We would love to hear from you.

Give us your feedback, or suggest a topic, by leaving us a voice message.

Email us at hello@lookingforwardourway.com.

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Please review our podcast on Google!

And of course, everything can be found on our website, Looking Forward Our Way.

Recorded in Studio C at 511 Studios. A production of Circle270Media Podcast Consultants.

Copyright 2022 Carol Ventresca and Brett Johnson 

Transcripts

[:

We are Looking Forward Our Way from Studio C and the studios in the Brewery District just south of downtown Columbus. This is Brett. Carol and I have a return guest today, and I believe the information we're going to talk about is going to be a really great interest to our audience.

[:

Brett, we are going to have a discussion about death and debt.

[:

You know, talk about kind of morbid.

[:

Yeah. Bit ominous, needless to say. So a few weeks ago, I saw an article on a website called NerdWallet, which somehow I get the stuff from them. I'm not even sure how I ended up signing up with them, but the article talked about responsibilities of children. If their parents died in debt, what do they face in terms of their own financial situation? So you and I immediately thought of our guest, Larae Schraeder, as the expert we needed to address this subject.

[:

Larae Schraeder, she's an attorney and counselor at Law. She opened up her practice, Schraeder Law, LLC, inspired by a belief that many need an advocate, particularly older adults. She's a graduate of Capital University's Law School and Kenyan College, where she served on the Alumni Board. Lorae, thanks again for joining us today. We appreciate it.

[:

Thank you for having me. I'm happy to be here and delighted as a return guest.

[:

It's good to see you, and I'm so glad we were able to have you come and talk about this, because this article was just fascinating to me. Last time. We covered a little bit about what you did in the podcast, but let's talk a little bit about your practice areas and your background and what brought you to the decision to not only move into a legal profession, but to also focus on issues of older adults.

[:

I spent time in corporate America. I was working in the financial services sector, and I was familiar with many of the products that people purchase, and I assumed that I would practice in corporate America when I graduated from law school. But I decided that my calling was really the elder community, because during my time in law school, I continued to advocate for my grandparents, and I continued to explore various paths that I could take, and this one felt right. And the more time that I spent exploring it, the more right it was. So in time, I opened Shraeder Law, LLC and have been focused on this area of law ever since.

[:

So in our previous conversations, we talked about the difficulty in having those difficult discussions with parents, not just the paperwork like wills and powers of attorney, but death in general. There are resources available to support families through these transitions, yet often we just keep kicking the can down the road. We wait too long and the crisis occurs. What's the most important message you have for clients and their family members regarding this end of life transition?

[:

There's no substitute for planning that's the first and foremost message. The earlier you plan, the more options you have and the less expensive it is. I don't think people realize the things that they can weigh in on themselves while they still have the capacity. But not everybody plans. And sometimes there are plans that just don't include everything that needs to be addressed and you find surprise assets, even things like unclaimed funds can show up years after someone has passed away. So it is really difficult to have a completely airtight approach to knowing where every dollar will be that your children or executor would need to handle when you're gone.

[:

Well, it's worth the investment of time to do that as well. And all disclosures out there, my family works with Lorraine as well and she brought up things like, oh, don't even think about that. That it's one of those, okay, you have to address it going, oh, if that was out there, that would have been a pain for those that were behind, left behind with us. But at the same time, it does take some time to do. But it doesn't have to be painful if done properly.

[:

Some clients come to me because of a terrible experience that they have had with the drama relating to the loss of one of their parents and they inherited a mess, right? Even if there are assets, sometimes it's really messy to actually acquire the assets. It's a lengthy process, potentially more expensive process. And other times people come to me because they're shamed. I don't want to die with the reputation as the one who left things unplanned. And I have had a few people say, just make sure that I'm not one of those people that gets talked about for having failed to plan.

[:

Yes, well, and sometimes, as you said, you can have what you think is a great plan. But then all of a sudden your parent is diagnosed with Alzheimer's. So everything you thought you knew about what was going on, suddenly things are falling through the cracks and there's no one to ask. Even though that person hasn't actually passed, they can't give you an answer. Let's look a little bit at all the different documents that we're really talking about for these situations.

[:

So a general durable power of attorney is the most powerful weapon. First and foremost, we think of the last will and testament, but that's what's going to happen to your things after you pass away. It's what will happen to you and your assets during your lifetime. And that's the one that I think is the most important. It's the one that lets someone else file your tax return. It's the one that lets someone hold your mail if you need to be in rehab. For me, that's the quintessential document. It lets someone continue to pay the bills and you won't, dare I say, wake up to the consequences. So if you do recover, if you regain capacity, unlike a situation with Alzheimer's, sometimes people are just sick and can't do it. Things like Medicare, annual enrollment, right? You need someone that can help you with that. You don't want to miss one of those deadlines and pay a penalty forever on something like that. So that document is key. And that's one where I counsel closely, you really need to trust the person that would make those financial decisions for you during your lifetime. Another one would be the healthcare documents to make sure that you have a power of attorney to let someone make all the healthcare related decisions for you.

[:

And that agent you need to, again, trust and make sure that you're on the same page about your wishes. A living will is different. A living will is you deciding for yourself in advance that I don't want to remain on life sustaining equipment if you were one of the ones that ever faced that scenario. And so you kind of take the decisionmaking out of the power of attorney's hands by saying, I'm deciding in advance. You don't have to feel guilty about deciding if it's time to pull the plug. If doctors agree that the situation is dire and there's no hope of recovery and very specific other criteria are met, then you have spoken for yourself in advance. So that's one of the reasons why that's part of the family of advanced directives.

[:

I think it's interesting going through this whole process of you think that there are some things that no one's going to question if I go take care of something at the bank for so and so. You can't. It's really interesting that almost everything you take care of on your own, you cannot have someone else take care of without a piece of paper.

[:

It's true. I had an order for a local office supply store for extra photocopies that our office wanted to make in bulk and I needed to designate in advance of someone else if it wasn't me there to pick the order up. And so you're right, even something very simple. Now, they didn't ask for legal proof, but it is simple. Even something like dry cleaning, right? They're not going to just let you walk out the door with somebody's coat. Nor should they. And I think people take for granted, especially if they have a spouse, that there are built in privileges and those just don't exist for privacy and for other reasons and to protect the organization that you're interacting with. The other thing that people don't understand is you can have those papers and they're not necessarily going to be honored. So you can have a power of attorney. But the bank is certainly entitled to have their own internal policies about what they're willing to let that agent do for you. Just because the permission slip says they can do X, Y and Z, the bank might say, no, only X. And so that is a surprise to some families and where even those who have planned might find themselves facing a situation where additional power needs to be granted.

[:

And if that hasn't been done in advance by the person giving the power, the court is really the only other body that can step in.

[:

Does it make a difference in that scenario whether someone worked with an attorney to create those documents or just did the stuff online where you just basically pull up the pieces of paper and somebody can say, oh yeah, here it is? I'm just thinking with my power of attorney and will and estate and everything, it not only went through an attorney's office, but I carry their name with me in my wallet. So if something would happen, I'm in an accident, somebody could say, contact that law office right away and make sure they have the correct documentation.

[:

I'm biased, of course, but I would say it does make a difference. I have had selfexecuted documents come to my office and there have sadly been times when we haven't been able to honor them because maybe they were signed by a notary. But the document requires, under high law, two witnesses, or vice versa, two witnesses on a document that requires a notary. And so they're simply filling in the forms. They're filling in the blanks, and they may not understand that blank shouldn't have been there and a different bank should have been. It's even more heartbreaking to see families think they have that layer of insulation. The other thing I will say is I have been asked as an attorney to verify by financial institutions that I have in fact been engaged by that client to execute that power of attorney. And I think it would be very difficult for a selfadministered selfexecuted document to be able to be proven and accepted by the financial institutions they understandably have safeguards. There's a lot more to lose there than my silly example about picking up the dry cleaning or the copies I had made. And they're going to be more cautious and any reason for them to reject it.

[:

And that would certainly be a valid one because it's not a valid document and you wouldn't even know it. And the thoroughness, I think, is the biggest difference that I have seen between powers of attorney that are obtained online, certainly for free, but sometimes even for a fee. And people don't always realize that digital assets are important separately from banking. Wouldn't you want your children to be able to reset your bank pen or handle online banking, especially if they're out of state, and to not realize that those things need to be included? Your children don't just want the right to go to the bank lobby and to make an appointment to transact their business. They want a little more if they're going to do it for you or your neighbor, certainly, or anyone else that you're quote, inconveniencing or honoring with this authority. So those are some of the differences that I see in my office.

[:

I even started including all of my passwords to everything, social media, the whole thing and my pile of stuff for my cousin who's my executor and power of attorney and all of that. Because if I can't answer the question, she's not going to be able to get into Facebook.

[:

So what is the most important step we can take to support our older relatives and ensure that we stay on top of the financial information? No one wants to give up control of their finances or how they live. But what happens if things do get out of hand? How important is it that we know and understand our parents financial information? Again, going back to that difficult conversation, a lot of parents don't really want to talk about that or let know what is there protecting themselves or it's just a difficult conversation. What accounts are most important to understand? We just step in and what steps do we need to do to take to get to handle all that information?

[:

I think having an understanding of who their trusted advisers are. I have so many families where they think they know which bank but maybe mom or dad got mad at the local bank branch.

[:

Sure.

[:

And they went down the street to another one. The other thing is most people that are older still receive paper statements, but not all. Especially those that are concerned about the fact that they might have to pay two or $3 extra per statement to receive that paper statement. So in the olden days it was a lot easier to watch the mailbox or to find that CPA who can help lead you to the generated the interest that showed up on the tax return. And now it's increasingly harder to do that. If you don't have the Pin someone filed electronically or you don't even know which accountant to call, then it's a lot harder to follow the paper trail. But those are some of the things I would say know which financial institutions they use. It is very rare that there is only one financial institution involved. Usually retirement plans are held in one place, retail, banking products, checking savings or at another. Sometimes they've opened a CD down the street because of a special promotion they might have read about in the newspaper.

[:

Oh yes, sure.

[:

And having an understanding of that breadth. Because even if you do have the power, you would have to know where to go. I absolutely have clients that have to shop from bank to bank to bank to locate accounts from their deceased parents once the court has given them in order to open the probate of state and give them the authority to do so because they are just looking to see where to go. So I would say just even if your parents don't want to share with you which accounts, where their balances knowing right who is the insurance agent, because that's something that usually needs attention immediately.

[:

Right.

[:

Who is handling all the other transactions?

[:

Well, if they have a mortgage. Which mortgage company? Needless to say, there's a million out there.

[:

That's right.

[:

When my mother passed away, I was on one of their financial accounts, a checking account with the bank. Luckily, when she opened that account, I was with her. We knew the banker, so they knew me by face. When she passed away, I was at their house trying to find that checkbook because there were bills that I needed to be able to pay, and I could do it off of that checkbook. I thought I checked every drawer. I missed one, finally found it. But had I not been able to, I had already gone to the bank, talked to them, and said, if I can't find this, I need to get checks reissued, and they were ready to help me. But it takes that work ahead of time to make sure that whatever problem comes up, you have steps that you can take.

[:

Right. Brett, you asked me some of the ways in which people can help plan for an elderly parent if they need to step in. I want to build on something Carol said about passwords. If they're secure in your home, it is certainly a much easier process for others to step in for you if they have access to anything that you have a profile or a login for. The example would be when my mother became ill two years ago from food poisoning and spent a month in ICU from Sepsis, I knew the password to her phone. And knowing that four digit password enabled me to reset other passwords that I didn't know. And so if they're willing to, if they do handle transactions, at least with a smartphone, that is the most essential one, I would say, for starters. And continuing to keep a file in writing of the other passwords would be helpful. As you said, who's going to break into your Facebook?

[:

Exactly. And you know what, though, too? We have a podcast on computer security talking about password managers. So you can have the manager, but somebody's got to know the password to get into the password manager.

[:

That's right. And I do have clients that have asked us to safeguard that master password as part of their essential records and to be shared upon their passing or upon their incapacity. And so we've worked out with them the rules in which that can be released and the very short list of people that could have access to it. But they don't want the kids being nosy right now. They don't want the kids to feel the burden of that, but they also recognize the need for that transition to happen if and when it's needed.

[:

So that's a secret handshake kind of feel to it or give or take. Right? Exactly.

[:

And still watch those trucks that are driving right at you.

[:

Right, exactly. Yeah. And even that runs the risk that someone will reset the password. But it's certainly more peace of mind for them than if they didn't take that step to plan.

[:

Right, okay, so now we've got the paperwork in hand, everything's set to go. What's the next step? Do we need to ensure that bills are paid, taxes are paid? Does the power of attorney give us the avenue to make sure all that happens?

[:

It's true. The power of attorney generally allows all of the rest to fall into place. And keeping the taxes paid are one of the things that's easy to forget. And I have had families miss a tax bill because that's not something that they're used to covering. The utilities usually get handled and you think, okay, yes, there's electric, yes, there's gas, there's all of the standard expenses, but the taxes are one easy one to overlook. And so with that power of attorney, you can inquire as to what payments have already been made. And the auditors websites in most of the counties here in central Ohio make all of that information available. And certainly then if you had the power of attorney, you could make sure that the check was actually cut from the proper account and you're not keeping track of who needs to pay back whom and all of that. It's just more straightforward to pay directly from their funds from the get go.

[:

Right. So when you've lost a parent and you're working on their estate, what happens when the debt is discovered, if there's any to be discovered? Obviously there are different kinds of debt that could impact an estate. What steps should you follow? Who gets paid first? Is there a pecking order? And does the size of the estate actually make a difference?

[:

Timing is the first question. I want to know when that parent passed, because sometimes the family has to just put their head in the sand and they can't face the paperwork to go with it because maybe they've just finished a long, very difficult illness and they just need a break because they're at the point of exhaustion. Sometimes mom is actively dying and sometimes it's, mom died yesterday. But the timing really matters because if they have been gone more than six months, the answer to what debt remains differs. And so understanding how long someone has begun matters. The second area of questioning for any client that walks in my office is how much debt does mom or dad have? And they don't always know the answer to that. And sometimes it's a matter of exploring the debt and waiting for some of the bills to show up before we can even decide whether it makes sense to move forward. With the probate estate. The answer is creditors have six months to come forward, to stand in line for any assets that are going to pass by way of the will or through Probate if there's no will with or without a will through the probate court system.

[:

And sometimes people strategically wait to open the estate because the limited funds that are there are needed for other higher priority items. Like you said, paying the funeral bill, paying the court costs, making sure that the car gets transferred out of someone's name, and so making sure that those expenses are paid first, yes, there is an order and those things would come. But then making sure that there's something left potentially for a disabled child if someone didn't plan the way they should have or to even get the dumpster to clean out mom and dad's house. Sometimes you want just enough, right? Having enough to pay the basic bills, even if someone doesn't have revolving credit card debt, is still important that there needs to be a few thousand dollars on hand to finish wrapping up, to buy a headstone, to buy some of those things that are traditionally associated with that's expensive. So that's an area of exploration. Many times people do not have debt and then it's a different story. Especially if there's a house you don't want to continue to pay for the lawn to be mowed and for the heat to remain on.

[:

And it's a matter of getting that turned around pretty quickly. But sometimes it's a game of saying we're going to have to find another way to cover these bills during the six month period. I will also say the type of debt would really matter because if there is a mortgage on that house or there is a loan on that car and that loan was validly securing that property prior to the death, then nothing changes that. If mom or dad signed away the house to a reverse mortgage, there's debt accruing. It's not going to change whether the six month thing happens or not, whether you wait. Same thing with the car, that car loan is in place and that lender has a security interest in that vehicle whether mom is alive or dead. And I think that that's really important to understand that even if somebody ends up with the car because the will says so, they're going to take subject to those payments and not every person that's going to inherit. Maybe there's a grandchild that isn't really credit worthy and they're not going to accept that new person as a borrower that they want to extend credit to.

[:

So then you have to find some interesting solutions to ensure that things would continue. And same with the house. Someone can take the house, but it's going to be subject to that debt because the bank's interest is in the property. It's just very different than credit card debt or some owing a cable bill or something like that after you're passing. There's nothing securing that.

[:

I want to go back to the point when you said creditors have six months to come forward. Is that six months after the death that they know that that person has.

[:

Died six months after the death period.

[:

Okay?

[:

So you don't have to inform all of the creditors. They need to be looking.

[:

They need to figure it out if there's a debt and they're not trying to collect it.

[:

Some businesses actually employ attorneys to monitor probate estates to see if someone is it has been true of some health systems where there's commonly medical bills associated with the last illness or something along those lines. So yes, there are people that monitor for deaths to see if they need to proactively move forward, asserting their claim because they have a limited window. There is a true statute of limitations that expires interesting. And the claim has to be formally presented properly and within that amount of time before they get in line, so to speak, for any assets that are going to be passed.

[:

We've all heard the horror stories of a spouse losing their home or when a child who is literally going into debt trying to take care of their parents. At what point is a child actually personally responsible for a debt their parents have created? Do you have some specific examples of situations like that? What are the fixes?

[:

The most common one, I would say, is a nursing home agreement, an entrance agreement or admissions agreement. I was helping a family last night parse through the nuanced language that says nothing about this would make a representative responsible legally for anything except where we've otherwise noted. And then buried in the fine print, it says y ou and we define you as the resident and the representative. And so it says you are responsible for the bills that you've incurred. You are responsible. So in that very subtle way, that representative, which is often a child, has assumed liability for any growing bills for that parent. And they don't always realize that they have signed away their rights to do it because they're entering mom and in the nursing home, they think the mom would be the one that has the debt or mom's estate. It sneaks up on people more so than in other ways. You formally know if you're going to cosign on someone's student loan or car loan or mortgage.

[:

Right.

[:

It's just not always as apparent when it's a nursing home agreement on that.

[:

Agreement with a nursing home, if the child doesn't sign anything, are they still responsible?

[:

They probably won't have their parent admitted, right? Somebody needs to sign something and if that parent doesn't have the capacity to do it, they need to at least sign as an agent. But differentiating whether you're signing for the parent or you're signing in a way that collectively makes you responsible along with the parent, that's the subtle difference. And again, that's one where many people either don't read it, they read it quickly and don't understand or don't realize that there's an asterisk asterisk that leads you to the 29th page of that agreement that I read last night.

[:

Well, you know, thinking back, this is kind of interesting when you're talking about nursing homes. When my mother passed away, my dad had actually been sick. She was his caregiver, so I became his caregiver. The same time she passed away, he got sick and was in the hospital and then a nursing home. So Medicare is paying for the nursing home, and if you don't stay at that level of improvement, medicare stops paying. I needed one more week of him to be there because I was painting the house, moving into their house to take care of him, and they cut him off. So I went and talked to them, and they're like, well, we really can't do anything. So I had to pay for that extra week. Now, he had funds, so that wasn't really an issue, but say he didn't have the funds and Medicare had cut him off. It was a nice chunk of change for him to be there for another week or so.

[:

The other situation where I see children caught by surprise because of expenses relating to the parent has to do with when the parent has gifted assets to the child and then needs long term care. So mom gives away the house. Three years ago this is a true story. Mom gives away the house, everybody's fine. Mom and dad both, right? They were still living, and everybody thought for sure they would have five years before ever needing long term care or Medicaid. But three years in, mom needed adult daycare, and that bill was really hefty. And the daughter said, but my mom has no assets. My mom has very little income. My mom has nothing. And I'm like, but for the house that she gave you, she would have had assets. Right. And so it was very difficult for the child to see their responsibility because Medicaid wasn't about to pay. They weren't eligible. Yes, they were financially broke, and they were sick enough. They were sick enough, they were broken off. They hit on many of the things but for that gift.

[:

Right.

[:

And so that is a situation where the child has continued to live in the house and do whatever she needs to do, but she's now trying to figure out how to pay for mom's care. She was fortunate in that mom only needed daycare while she still worked, but that was anticipated to change, and the husband passed away during those three years. So things change more quickly than we want to.

[:

It's interesting because a lot of times people will say, oh, yeah, you need to do this and that. So if Medicaid kicks in, they don't have any assets. Well, that's not necessarily the answer.

[:

Right. Because you could find yourself in a situation where the deed is no longer belonging to the parent and they have no assets and they need care. And so the children may have been the beneficiary of that home, and they may have sold it, they may have lost it. They may be bankrupt, who knows, divorced. Anything could have destroyed them financially. And that is an area of intense vulnerability for a family, and I generally advise against that. As you can imagine, there are some ways to structure transactions, to be more planful so that you're not just giving away the house and hoping you've got the full five years, but to look at a different path that wouldn't leave mom or dad kind of without care.

[:

It's so difficult about anything that you're talking about today, is running the scenarios around them. There's just that one path, okay, we make this path, we choose this way, but all of a sudden there's like five different things that could affect it down the road that, yes, you can talk it out, which is a trusted advisor should do that. Okay, these things can happen. Think about this. But at the same time, there are things you just can't even imagine. They think, that's not going to happen to us, but it could.

[:

Yes. I joke sometimes that it's like a law school fact pattern for an exam, right? And then this happened, and then that happened, and that happened. But I feel obliged as a counselor to cover the scenarios. And I watched carefully till when the eyes glaze over and I know we've gone far enough.

[:

Yes.

[:

Because some people need a different level of air tightness in their plan before they have the peace of mind, and we need to go at least as far as their peace of mind. And then I usually encourage one step further, especially if the fact patterns keep coming to mind of all the other things that we need to plan for. But it is extra effort for them to think about and make decisions, and not everyone can and wants to make decisions about those topics early, but it's also an extra expense, and people think, oh, we're not going to be that family. That would happen, too. And you said it right, you just don't know.

[:

Yeah. And I think that's the benefit of that annual review of whoever you work with, whatever it might be, even though it comes down to looking at your life insurance and your auto insurance policy and stuff, down to that minutiae, you should look at it every year because you could be getting a better deal somewhere, or maybe you're overcovered now. Life insurance policies are that way, too. After the kids are gone, you may want to take a look like, we don't really need that much life insurance now because we bought that policy 20 years ago, thinking that it can help pay for their college well, they're in that sort of thing. So I think reviewing it kind of helps bring that big picture back down, going, okay, if we can look at this every year, then it's like things change in every year. Then you can make modifications.

[:

Life changes, your circumstances change. The law changes, your family changes. There are a lot of reasons to revisit an estate plan and not put it on the shelf.

[:

How long do you think people should wait on estate plans? I mean, actually making changes every year is a little bit much, so maybe, what, every five years or so?

[:

It depends. That's my classic lawyer answer. So to Brett's point, reviewing it doesn't mean making changes, okay. And making sure that it's still valid, it still works the way you want. Did your agents move? Do you want to make sure that on your healthcare advanced directive, someone can find the right phone number?

[:

Right?

[:

Or as you mentioned earlier, to one person passed away, and it could be a very important person that passed away. And if you let it go for five years, right, that person is still on there.

[:

My cousin that passed away is the backup executor on my side.

[:

So marriage, divorce, death of a person named in your plan, certainly in a role including beneficiary, but certainly anything more than just beneficiary, like you said, an executor or a successor or a power of attorney, but also acquiring assets, people that don't have a car or house yet. I have written some estate plans for students that are in college. They wanted to make sure that mom or dad could weigh in if something happened to them. Now that they're over 18, they're in a very different circumstance. They may be married. They may end up with a car that needs somewhere to go if they were to pass away unexpectedly. So I also find that other circumstances change, maybe even just downsizing, because maybe mom and dad start to rent now as opposed to owning. And that could prompt revisiting an estate plan as well as diagnoses, because sometimes people are ready to make different decisions when they feel like the clock is ticking and when you just kind of know in the back of your mind that there's a clock, it's one thing, but when you really are facing a different challenge or your parent passes and you've seen how you want it to go or not want it to go, sometimes that is a prompt to revisit an estate plan.

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The shelf life of an average plan just change just really depends on any of those things happening. Sometimes starting a different career, people would want to protect things differently in a trust. In laws are one of the I smile, one of the reasons that people sometimes seek my services. Sometimes it's the inlaws they haven't even met yet who might my daughter or son marry that I want to make sure that I have protected our wealth from. And it's a lot easier to have that conversation before that. In law is part of the mix, to say, I want us to follow my bloodline, and I don't want them to be distracted and it's a lot easier to say, don't take this personally, that's the way we set it up before you joining us for Thanksgiving.

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I'm warning my cousins right now, don't take this personally, but yes.

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And charitable intentions are some of the other reasons. Sometimes people feel like they have gotten close enough to the finish line that they're confident they wouldn't run out of money and they want to go ahead and arrange for that.

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Yeah. So what's the one or two takeaways from this episode that you would suggest to our listener?

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Plan? Plan. I prefer estate planning to probate, but our office handles both because sometimes there are things that you didn't plan for that sneak up, but you have so many more choices and it's so much less expensive. And those that are receiving the aftermath of your death, they're already handling a lot emotionally, and for them to inherit a pile of paperwork to go with it isn't usually the first thing that they're eager to handle. So I would just say advance planning really pays off in more ways than one. The second thing I would say is seeking professional advice. We touched on some tax consequences that a CPA should be consulted about. The same thing for the preparation of legal documents again, because you don't know what you're going to have until you're actually putting that estate plan to test to the road test. And that's a really heartbreaking conversation.

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Well, before we end, we also have another guest with us today. Lorraine brought her paralegal with her, so why don't you go ahead and introduce her?

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Hi, this is Amanda Mitchell. She joined our office in March of 2022 and we're happy to have her. Thanks for letting me listen in.

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So Amanda is a big podcast listener, so we thought she would like to have a little bit of fun this afternoon and watch us do this, mistakes.

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And all, or run away screaming going, I'm not doing that.

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Exactly true. Very true.

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So we want to remind our listeners that the resources and information we've talked about today are going to be included on the show, notes that you can find on our website. Looking forward our way.com. Larae, thank you. Amanda. Thank you for joining us today, listeners, thank you for listening also, and we look forward to hearing from you.

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Thank you.