I recently saw an ad on Facebook called “Women, Wine, and Wills.” A networking event where we sip wine and discuss wills? This should be interesting!
It took having my daughter Noelani for me to even think about the future of my money. What would happen to her or even my business if I was gone? It’s a difficult yet critical conversation to have.
It was my first event after COVID in a public setting, and the turnout was insane. The wine room was packed with women who were all interested in learning more about the basics of putting together wills and what questions we need to ask ourselves.
“Women, Wine, and Wills” is a free event presented by the Law Offices of Jenny Ling. Jenny is an estate planning and business attorney in Seattle, WA. Her blog covers all the essential topics you want to know. They include estate planning for singles, four documents to update after getting divorced, the danger of DIY estate planning, and more.
Believe it or not, my work as a stylist is similar to Jenny’s. Many clients come to us after a significant life change, such as a divorce or having a baby.
In this conversation, we cover topics on:
- Who is estate planning for
- Estate planning vs. a will
- What can you do to teach your children about money as they grow up?
- Decision-making on life support, how do you decide?
- What does going through this process look like?
Who is estate planning for?
Everyone has an estate. An estate is everything you own – your car, home, other real estate, checking and savings accounts, investments, life insurance, furniture, and personal possessions. Everyone has to make a plan, no matter how big or small an estate.
Clients typically consult Jenny on estate planning when they are going through a life change such as divorce, having their first child, parents who have kids in high school, soon-to-be retirees, and recently blended families.
Estate Planning vs. a Will
Wills are one component of an overall estate plan, and a will is a document that tells the court who gets your assets and how they’re distributed when you die. If you have minor children, the will tells the court who their guardians are.
An estate plan encompasses not only the piece about who gets your stuff when you die but also helps clients make a plan for their incapacity. If you become incapacitated and unable to make your financial or healthcare decisions, who makes them for you? Who has access to your bank accounts?
Jenny helps her clients get powers of attorney in place. Without those, your loved ones have to go through a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding in the court system to make healthcare or financial decisions on your behalf.
The drawbacks are that you’re incapacitated; therefore, you cannot make your own decisions. It’s a court process, so you have to pay attorneys fees (this can range from $6,000 to $14,000), and proceedings are through the court, so it’s public record. Many people prefer to have that info private. These are all a part of an estate plan.
And yes, there are online resources to download a form. But, a form is just a form, Jenny says. Are you doing it in a way that will make sense? Estate planning is NOT a quick fix. Plus, the DIY forms are not state-specific and can’t provide the strategic problem-solving pieces that many people need.
What can you do to teach your children about money as they grow up?
According to Jenny, you can teach your children about money in many different ways. Parents give kids a vacation allowance where they can decide if they want a souvenir or pay for an experience. Parents can talk to their pre-teends or teens about how they’re budgeting, like for grocery shopping.
When teens start their first job, talk to them about putting some money in a retirement account. As a parent, do what you can to teach your kid about budgeting and model the behavior you want them to have.
Decision-making on life support, how do you decide?
After determining guardianship for the children, Jenny says, the next most challenging thing for people is talking about their healthcare directive, also known as a living will. Your family would turn to this document should you be diagnosed to be in a terminal or permanently unconscious condition where you’re placed on life support.
Discussing life support is difficult because people now think more concretely about their death and what that looks like. What helps people come to a decision is understanding what those circumstances would look like. If you’re in a coma, but the doctors think you’ll turn around, this document would not apply. It only applies if the doctors believe there is no turning around or improvement.
As a rule of thumb, Jenny checks in with her comprehensive clients and does a review every three years. People contact her office if anything has changed before the three-year mark.
What does going through this process look like?
At the Law Offices of Jenny Ling, potential clients go through a 15-minute complimentary consultation to get more information and determine their needs.
Suppose the potential client moves forward after that 15-minute call. In that case, Jenny’s office schedules a two-hour consultation where they deep dive into the particulars of the client’s situation. They share with them what happens in their specific circumstances if planning does not occur.
The Law Offices of Jenny Ling is client driven – they help guide clients to make the right decisions about the plan that will meet their goals, objectives, and concerns.
Personally, this topic was NEVER something I thought about until I went to “Women, Wine, and Wills”. Attending that was eye-opening because my parents haven’t talked to me about this. I don’t know many friends who have mentioned this either. If this is the first time you hear about this and all the details that go into it, I suggest taking it in. Listen to the podcast again to take notes and even share this with your partner or someone you love. I ended up sharing everything I learned with my parents to see if they had something in place. You can share this blog or the link to the podcast on Instagram or in a group chat.
More from Jenny Ling:
Learn more from Jenny Ling, and follow along on Instagram at @jennylinglaw and Facebook atThe Law Offices of Jenny Ling, PLLC. Please note: Jenny is only registered to work in the state of Washington. If you live elsewhere, look up estate planning attorneys in your area to find more information on how to work together.