Hinshaw Estate Planning Blog

Tuesday, February 7, 2017


Estate planning may seem like a looming task, but once you’ve completed the process you will have feelings of comfort and security.  So why do so many people leave their affairs up to chance or the whims of the probate court?  Sometimes estate planning has a hard time making it up your “to-do” list, and I understand.  Generally, we see clients more interested in estate planning when a child is born, when a loved one passes away, or if someone is suffering a serious illness.  However, during these life changes and high times of stress, it is more difficult to complete the estate planning process due to the stresses caused by the life changes.  It is much easier to go through the estate planning process during a time when it’s easier to focus on the estate planning itself.

Another reason clients procrastinate on their estate planning is because going through the estate planning process can raise questions for which they don’t have a perfect answer.  For example, one of the biggest hurdles for parents with young children is who to name as guardians of their minor children.  The fear of making the wrong decision can keep people from making any decision at all.  Keep in mind, that even though you may not have a perfect answer to who shall serve a particular role, the answer you have is better than the answer a judge or probate court who has no familiarity with your family will have.

The words “estate planning” have a tendency to cause anxiety.  To some, estate planning means mulling over “scary events” such as incapacity and death.  To others, “estate planning” means dealing with important and sometimes awkward conversations with family members, financial advisors, insurance brokers and estate planning lawyers.

But it’s worth the effort.  Planning ahead means one thing--- you’re in control of your property if you pass away or are incapacitated and your children will be taken care of by whom you want.  The biggest mistake people make is not having a plan at all.  If you don’t make a plan, the State of California has a plan for you.  It involves public probate, conservatorship and/or guardianship proceedings that are costly, time consuming and may or may not be in accord with your wishes.  (See my 2/9/16 blog post on the nightmare of California probate)

Are you procrastinating on your estate planning?  The first step is to pick up the phone and call an estate planning lawyer to get the ball rolling.

Hinshaw Estate Planning is a practice group of Hinshaw, Marsh, Still & Hinshaw and assists clients in matters related to Estate Planning, Asset Protection, Planning for Children, Inheritance Protection, and Estate & Trust Litigation in the areas of Saratoga, San Jose, Los Gatos, Monte Sereno, Campbell, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, and Palo Alto within Santa Clara County, the areas of Menlo Park, Woodside, Atherton, Portola Valley, San Carlos, and Redwood City within San Mateo County, and the Greater San Francisco Bay Area.

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