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Estate Planning:  A Legacy for the Living

By E. Lawrence Brock, Esq.

Few people want to think about estate planning, because few people want to think about their own mortality.

The reality is that we don’t live forever, but the legacy we provide our loved ones does.  A legacy is not just a bequest of money or real estate or a business.  A legacy is the totality of who we are as a human being—the good things we do for others ultimately matters more than how much money we made or what we did in our careers.   

We can leave behind family members who are grateful to us because we took the time to make sure that they will receive everything you want them to receive, quickly and easily, without the red tape, hassle, and expense of going to court.

Most parents and grandparents feel an obligation, in their lifetimes, to care for the emotional and financial needs of their children and grandchildren. (I’m not talking about the kid who comes back from college and moves into the basement until age twenty-five. )  The responsibility to take care of our loved ones does not terminate when we do.  If it’s important while we’re alive to meet the needs of those around us as we see fit, it’s even more important to do so after our deaths.

And that’s why estate planning is not just a dry legal matter of creating a will or a trust or some other document that lives on only in a lawyer’s vault.  Instead, estate planning is the only means we have at our disposal to make sure that the feelings we have for our loved ones are translated into concrete action.  Not long ago, I worked with a family where the mother, in her early eighties, absolutely refused to do any sort of estate planning.  She was worth approximately $7 million, and as a child of the Depression, she might simply have been uncomfortable with having those kinds of resources.  For whatever reason, her failure to create even the most basic of trusts meant that her son, then in his sixties, had to write a check to the U.S. Treasury for more than $3 million.  It’s hard for the son not to spend the rest of his life interpreting his mother’s failure to plan her estate as anything other than a slap in the face. 

In most families, there are fewer zeroes in the estate of a loved one.  But the effect of failing to plan is always the same.  It subjects family members to the extremely unpleasant probate process.  It pits siblings against each other, exacerbating old family struggles, or creating new ones.  It all but guarantees that some of the major beneficiaries of an estate will not be family members but instead will be attorneys fighting for their clients’ share of the pie. 

Whenever we think back about a loved one, we always say, “Dad would never have wanted us to be sad.”  Well, if you’re a dad, or mom, you possess infinite power to generate sadness or happiness after your own passing.  The simple question is this:  What’s it going to be? 

Sit down with an attorney whose focus is estate planning and administration  and think through some basic issues—who gets what, when, why, and how.  If you do so, you will spare your family the agony that I regularly see families endure in cases where there was a failure to plan, not only the failure to plan for death but failure to plan in the event of disability. 

Ensuring that your loved ones will get what you want them to get, when you want them to get it, and in the manner you want them to get it is every bit as important a legacy as how you interact with them in your lifetime. 

For my clients going through probate, I seek to provide clarity, support, comfort and guidance at a time when they are grieving and it seems like they are entering a black hole with no beginning or end. We have experience and an organized system/process to give them positive relief when they are feeling venerable and need to know that everything will be all right.

You’re there for your family now.  Estate planning simply allows you to be there for your family…down the road. 

Brock, Robinson & Associates assists clients with Estate Planning, Wills, Trusts, Special Needs Planning, Pet Trusts, Probate & Estate Administration, and Family Business Preservation in Chino, California as well as Chino Hills, Inland Empire, Pomona, Rancho Cucamonga, Ontario, Montclair, Diamond Bar, West Covina, Covina, Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Claremont Fontana, Riverside, Colton, Corona, San Bernardino, Redlands, Orange, Brea, Yorba Linda, Fullerton, Hacienda Heights, Eastvale, Norco, Mira Loma, Alta Loma, Upland, Rialto, Highland, Loma Linda and Grand Terrace in San Bernardino County, Los Angeles County and Orange County.

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