Visalia, CA Estate Planning Blog

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Ten Most Common Estate Planning Mistakes: Part One of Five

This entry is part one of my five-part message campaign The Ten Most Common Mistakes made when planning for the needs of families and estates.


As an estate planning attorney (and parent), it is my desire to help young families figure a few things out, and then prepare essential legal documents. To make this easy, I provide a no-cost informational consultation regarding all aspects of estate planning, and for young parents: a no-cost first basic guardianship document.

MISTAKE #1: The first (and biggest) mistake I see in estate planning for young families is not choosing a guardian properly (or at all!).

69% of parents have not named guardians. Why? Because most parents are unaware of their options, or simply cannot decide whom to choose (or even worse, they decide not to decide!).

So let’s begin with a discussion on guardianship nominations. This is not a simple topic, not a simple decision, and not a simple thing to get your head around. Yet it is so important to ask: “Who would be the best choice to care for your children if something were to ever happen to you?” 

And guess what? The best guardian choice may not be your parents or siblings (even if you may feel obligated to name them). Your best choice may also not be the friend or family member that has the most money. In fact, when naming a guardian, the thing you should focus on the most is your parenting priorities (such as residence, location, religion, personal philosophies, cultural interests, legacy information, etc.), and then ask who among your guardian choices could best instill those priorities in your child(ren)?

If you have minor children, choosing a guardian is absolutely essential (if something happens to you and you have not named a guardian, the State will choose for you!)  Can you see grandparents dueling it out in court? Or the Judge selecting someone you would NEVER choose? Not a good idea. 

For young parents, I will help you navigate and solve these issues at no charge


MISTAKE #2:  The second mistake that I see young parents making is to name a couple to serve as guardian without considering what would happen if one half of the chosen couple were to die (or if they got a divorce!).

It’s pretty simple: just ask yourself, if one half of this couple were gone, would I want the other one to take care of my child(ren) alone?  So name both, but let’s provide for a contingency plan should they separate or if one were to predecease the other.

So WHO is the person (or persons) that you would choose to be responsible for taking care of your children’s physical, emotional and spiritual needs if you aren’t there to do it yourself?

Let me help you make these decisions and draw up the legal documents that will demonstrate your intentions. Protecting kids is a subject close to my heart. I love what I do as an estate planning attorney, and I enjoy working with our community’s wonderful young parents. I will answer any and all questions you may have about estate planning, wills, trusts, health care directives, etc. Call me for a no-cost consultation at (559) 635-1775.


P.S. Stay tuned for my next entry…Mistakes #3 and #4 (these are BIG).

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Located in Visalia CA, Joan A. Watters, Esq. Attorney at Law assists clients throughout the Central Valley of California with various estate planning and elder law. Areas include but are not limited to Visalia, Exeter, Tulare, Hanford, Bakersfield, Lemoore, Three Rivers; and the surrounding counties of Tulare, Kings, and Kern.

© 2024 Joan A. Watters, Esq., Attorney at Law | Disclaimer
PO Box 547, Visalia, CA 93279-0547
| Phone: 559-635-1775 | 559 786-0390

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