Imagine being dropped in the middle of a vast forest with no phone, no map, not even a compass. Scary thought, right? Without an estate plan, that is basically how you are leaving your children should something happen to you.

This week I am joined on my podcast by David Feakes, founder and owner of The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC. David works with families to make a comprehensive plan should something catastrophic happen, such as the death of parents with minor children. David and I talk about estate planning in terms of drawing a map. First, you figure out where you are. Then you decide where you want to go. Lastly, you make a plan for how to get to your destination. With regard to estate planning, there are three major legalities to cover:

  1. Guardianship – You might have an idea as to who you would like to raise your children in the event of your untimely death, but you need to be sure that your desires are spelled out in a legal form. Additionally, you must consider short-term guardianship. Do you know who will take care of your kids until your long-term guardian assumes duties? Especially now, when travel is more complicated, short-term guardians, or people within a 15-20 minute radius of your home, are a necessity.
  2. Assets – Who will have access to your assets? How will they be delivered to your heirs? Who will manage the money and until what age? How do you protect what you’ve earned and saved to ensure it all goes to your intended recipients?
  3. Incapacity – If you are unable to make decisions, it is important you name someone to take over management of your affairs should you become incapacitated.

All of the above-mentioned affairs can be “mapped” in two different ways: a will or a revocable trust. A Personal Family Lawyer® is a great resource in helping you draw that map to lead your loved ones down the path you intend. 

David Feakes is the founder and owner of The Parents Estate Planning Law Firm, PC. His practice focuses on estate planning, wealth transfer, and asset protection. He develops lifelong relationships with his clients, serving as a trusted advisor to them and to their families. David has the distinct honor of being one of only a few Personal Family Lawyers® (PFL®) in Massachusetts. Most importantly, David is a husband and a dad and in his free time enjoys hiking, biking, and traveling.

Learn more about Mike and my services at https://www.mortonfinancialadvice.com and connect at https://www.linkedin.com/in/mwsmorton/

Transcript

00:00 Mike: welcome to financial planning for professionals and entrepreneurs. I'm your host, Mike Morton certified financial planner. And today I'm excited to have our guest, Mr. David because we are going to be talking all about why it's important to have. Estate planning, wills and trusts. What is this stuff? And why should you really care about it? Why it's important? So let me go ahead and introduce David. As we get started here, David is founder and owner of the parents' estate planning firm. His practice focuses on estate planning, wealth transfer and asset protection. He develops lifelong relationships with his clients, serving as a trusted to them in their face. David has the distinct honor of being the only personal family lawyer in Massachusetts, which I love. And most importantly, David is husband and dad and in his free time enjoys hiking, biking, and traveling. David, welcome to the show.

01:00 David: Thanks, Mike, glad Mike glad to be with you today

01:02 Mike: Yeah well I'm excited because I get this question all the time. My clients and the listeners are usually in the middle of their career. Maybe it has some kids and they're trying to do the adulting thing, get financial lives and organized. And of course they know wills and trusts and these things and planning is really important, but they don't really know what that is. So I'm excited to talk you about that today and introduce topics and why it's important, how to do it, what it means and all those things. But before we get started, why don't you give us a little bit of on what you're currently doing with the parents estate planning?

personal family lawyer since:

02:05 Mike: Yeah, let me pause on that for one sec. The reason I that, and it was in your bio and I I like personal family lawyer, because you put me onto designation and I've used it a couple of times. So for listeners out there you can look up PFL personal family, lawyer, and I've reached out to a few in different states. And always found them be very helpful, very pleasant in any kind of family, lawyer situation that you find yourself in. just, making that as a note, the PFL personal family, lawyer designation seems like a really great one, David.

opened up my own firm back in:

05:18 Mike: I love, you brought up a of important things there, but I love how you identify. At a state planning. Runs the gamut. It can be known with a lot of different things, to a lot of different It involves lot of parts and most of what you find out their estate planning attorneys that help implement certain things are really focused on that legacy planning that adult planning and not so much the kids. And so that's a very particular need that you and your firm works on. So before we dive into that, interested in defining the time when you say estate planning. What does that actually mean for the clients, parents that you work with?

05:56 David: Yeah. And the problem the problem with the term estate it turns a turns a lot of people because there are a there are a lot of young families running around saying I don't and the And And the way they think about it a state don't I don't have an estate, so I don't need a state planning We could call it could call it anything We could call it, guardianship planning for young kids We could planning planning for a for your for your children and for your If something happens to you, we could give it any any name it It just happens to be happens to be called a you don't need an estate If you've got a got a minor child, you need to create some kind of plan for can call it whatever we it whatever we want but you've got to a plan for them. And even if you And even if you have adult children, you have to create a plan for what's going to for what's going to to everything that you that you own. Everything that you've accumulated over the years, if something happens to you about first and foremost If you have minor estate planning is planning is all about who takes care of them If you're not you're not there to take care yourself or or yourselves if So So young kids, that's number one two estate planning is planning is all about Deciding and determining and taking ownership what's going to what's going to happen to your assets, your stuff house, your bank accounts your investment accounts the proceeds from your life from your life insurance policies. If you where is where is that going to How is it all is it all going to happen So that's number two number two and the third part Well There's a fourth part too that But the third big part of the big part of the state planning is what happens if you become incapacitated, what's the for allowing allowing someone to step in and easily seamlessly hiccups make make decisions you can't make you can't make decisions for yourself whether those are health care disease Or legal Or or financial decisions So those are the three main parts of Again, guardianship planning for your kids, planning planning for your assets planning for incapacity And then I And then I would argue there's a fourth major estate planning And and and you said the word earlier explore this a little deeper and that's and that's legacy and that's more about intangible piece Parts of Parts of you that would otherwise be lost forever. If you died things that are important to you values, memories, guidance advice the things you would want to you would want to share with the things you would things you would want to share with the who will take will take care of your All of those All of those things about you, again that are that you that you want to share with your family and maybe and maybe with the broader world, but that would otherwise be lost forever if anything ever And so And so we have found a way to even build that legacy. Part of the planning into. Kind of planning process and our planning levels even for even young kids And by kids. And by the way, that legacy important for younger families families as it is for anyone because you want to be you want to be sharing what you love about your kids. What makes you proud to be their parents how you want them raised religion, traditions, family, experiences, things you want To know, understand be having be having do as, as they grow up themselves So all all of those parts together, that's a state planning And again easy to get easy to get thrown off by the the planning for the future that creating for your for your kids and for you.

09:33 Mike: Wow that is, I've never really heard it that and definitely broken down. I'd love those three or plus four components, but the way you explain that, because it's true. You think estate planning, I don't have as state how you just framed it so well, but really what you're saying is parents, especially parents of minor kids, which is what your firm is all about. Really just need a What is going to happen? If something is to happen to you and you need to have that. And so that was going to be my next question is is this important? I think it's pretty obvious. It's important because if something were to happen, you not only need have a plan for those minor kids or even a transitioning into adulthood or adult kids, making sure that what is going to happen with guardianship, your stuff and all of that. But then of course, I assume we have some process here make sure it's all written down in the right way so that it happens in the right.

10:31 David: and I could talk and I could talk about process, happy to talk about Let's go back Let's go back to the piece a moment And I want to dig And I want to dig in a little deeper I come at this with a this with a very well-defined point of view, and that is smart. Parents make a plan for their children's So if you're a if you're a of young child, young child I believe I believe that smart parents make a plan for their children's future. Now, the corollary to just follow that follow that out logically is stupid parents parents don't now that's not that's not because people are it's but a lot of parents know they know they need to get this done, but they haven't gotten it so we can get into why, but that's why that's number that's number one. Why it's important Number one, because smart parents do this Number two, your kids need and want you to know that you that plan for their for their future. They need to They this. They need to They need to know that mom and dad cared enough about to create a a plan so the kids have a bright future. Even if even if mom and dad aren't there. I know this because as a child as a child myself, I didn't always feel. Cared for and protected by one of I can still remember what it felt like 50 years ago to look around around and realize one of my one of my parents care about me and isn't protecting me and I never and I never want anyone. Else's To feel that way. I that way I never want anybody else's child to look back and say, why didn't mom and dad care to create a plan for what was going to what was going to happen to me if something happened to them So that's why this is so important but I also but I also recognize that not every parent knows what planning planning looks to get to get started which is one of the reasons we're out in the community as much as we as much as we are To try and of the things they want to be they want to be thinking the questions they want to be asking asking and answering and how to get a toehold into this planning process. So then the process around around planning is in our office, it looks something like this A prospective client client come in Come in. They'll meet with us one with one of the or one of the attorneys in our office. And the first part is really just to understand who is this prospective who are these people? What's important to them Let's Let's understand something about their family something about their kids, something about their extended their their And then and then really it's all about helping prospective get very very clear on where they are right now Where are Where are they in terms of what's going to happen to their kids If something happens to the parents right now where are where are they in terms of what's going to happen to their or who's or who's gonna make decisions there's a period of incapacity and for a and for a lot whether they're young families or families or empty the plan plan they've got right is is a default because they because they haven't created any plan So my, our job is really to is really to them get very very clear about what's going to happen under the default Because just if you got dropped you got dropped in the middle of but you knew you wanted to go wanted to go to but you didn't but you didn't know what in and nobody gave nobody gave you a map. Even if you had a map. If you didn't know you didn't know where you were starting from there's no way for to to where you want to So the starting the starting point is always, where are you right now Let's let's get everybody clear on where clear on where you are And And then we can talk about and you to get really really clear about where you want to be. instead of Where you are, is not where you want not where you want to He what where do you want to go And then let us take you by the hand and guide through the trip through the through the transition from where you are now to where you want to be from point To point B And so when we are we are meeting with a prospective client we've got an we've got an hour of there Where are Where are you? Where do you want to be? And identifying the problems and the solutions to those problems. Guiding the client prospective client from where they are from where they are to where they want to be And then it's And then it's all about what level of what planning is is the right level of planning Cause There's Levels of planning There's all different kinds of plans depending what you're trying what you're trying to accomplish And then fit for each other, each get into the get into the design phase of a plan where we say, okay, if this is where you want to where you want to be, let's start out step by step by step, by step how we're going to get And this is not this is not something that clients have to clients have to do on their They don't have to wander to wander around in the wilderness trying to figure this out for There are people who people who are available like who can just take can just take them by the hand and walk through a process so that at so that at the other end of They've created created a plan They've made the decisions for their They've created the plan We've helped them in the them in the creation of obviously the documents that are a part of that plan They get to a signing meeting they meeting, they signed documents, and now a tangible plan in place and they can walk away away from that with great big big sigh of relief, No that now They know They know exactly what's going to happen if something happens to And there's no And there's no what the future is bringing for their family their family

15:56 Mike: yeah thanks for . Walking us through that how it works. And also thank for, the work that you do. I appreciate your story of your childhood and growing up and wanting to make sure that children are really that they're being. loved And taken care of, and also your story about why you started this firm in particular, working with families, especially families with young kids transitioning to adulthood that were really being underserved in terms of having a plan so that parents are organized About making sure they're taking care of their children. So let me ask this, I got prospect, you know so know you meet with some parents. They're geez, I really do need to do something here. I haven't done anything yet and definitely need to get organized and have a plan. So let's meet with a personal family lawyer. and meet with David. We find somebody close by meet with. That person start to through the organization. Where are you right now? What are you interested in making that we have planned for what are the give me some examples. Say I come in and we've got a of minor kids and yeah, David, I've got default plan right now. I E you know nothing really. So what would be some typical recommendations? Not knowing my but just what would you typically say? Here's a, here's two or three or four things that. we Typically would do parents with young kids.

17:12 David: so number so number one, as I the first thing first thing we always talk about as a plan for I I will never stop this from will never until. Every Every child has the comfort of knowing that mom and dad named guardians for them. So if something happens to mom kids are going to be kids are going to be very well So we're always So we're always starting by talking about guardianship for kids and and guardianship really kind of breaks down into different timeframes which most which most people don't And most parents don't think about. Everybody thinks about, okay. If okay If I were to who would I who would I want to step in and care for and love and raise my kids until they're 18 Which is when Which is when they no longer need a formal legal guardian and almost almost any estate planning can can help you to think about that that Now they'll do it in do it in varying degrees of Comprehensiveness Let's put it that way but everybody everybody will help you to at least think guardianship guardianship But the other side of it guardians because let's face it A lot of A lot of parents their guardians guardians don't next next door, down across town They live hours hours away they plane ride away. I have lots of clients whose guardians live guardians live outside the country the last two plus two haven't always been always been able to get entrance into the United States if something happened to the So what happens in happens in that scenarios If long-term guardians aren't immediately available, then you want to be thinking to be thinking guardians or who do I who do I know and trust in a 15 or 20 minute radius around my Who could come could come over quickly and be with my kids until my long-term could uh could arrive and And by the And by the way, this is a piece I had to figure out for my own kids when 20 years ago, when they were still five and one, and my sister, my brother-in-law hours away in Connecticut in Connecticut. But I had But I had tons of people who live around me who in. So So guardianship is always the first planning kind of go out and we talk and we talk about long-term guardians Then Then we always talk you've got you've got assets, what's going to happen to your assets If something happens to you how do how do you want your kids. to use get access to these resources Who's going to manage those resources until they're old enough to get access And then how do you want this do you want this all to There's different ways to set ways to set things up. There's more protective ways to really ways to really protect the that you that you leave to Some parents just want to make just want to make an outright distribution when their kids get to be the right And then the And then the last thing we talk about again, is the incapacity Who do you want do you? want to make decisions for If your sick sick unconscious can't make decisions for yourself and somebody needs to make medical decisions for you Get access Get access to accounts or make or make legal you So that's that's kind of what we're walking prospective clients in an initial meeting. And then the planning then then follows that same You're going to move going to move forward with your Okay Let's figure out figure out who's going to be the guardians term. How do How do we want to structure a assets which can which can either break down into. Which is Which is one way to create uh a roadmap and guidance and instructions about what you want to to your assets, or it or it could be through a revocable which is which is uh methodology uh that set of instructions of instructions for what assets And then it's just a And then it's matter of kind of working clients through that process and helping them make the decisions. And we're really there. as God Uh coach sometimes therapists, when we're talking about guardianship very I'm acting as almost a quasi a quasi Uh cause that's a piece that's a piece have uh have uh deciding on and buttheads with spouses on a But that's but that's kind of the framework for deciding on a deciding on a plan and designing that.

21:15 Mike: Yeah. I'm so glad that you brought up I guess points one in three, the middle one, number two assets. That's what I think people often think about, Estate planning or a will like, where's my stuff. Going to go, my accounts. I don't want to do that, but you know I'm hearing from you and just resonated with me. So what's more One is guardianship, both short-term and long-term, you had mentioned that me before, who's going to step in right away. Who's that neighbor that you can trust that can really just be there, moments away. And it's so And then the incapacitation is something. I bring up a lot with my clients because it's not what you're thinking about. It's again, where's my stuff going to go. If I'm not here, you're not thinking what if you're still alive? But you can't make decisions and like what's going to happen to your kids. Who's going gonna make those decisions seems super important. I'm really glad that you brought that.

22:06 David: Yeah. And that the truth is you truth is you got to think about all of those possibilities all of those contingencies, you might die and you need a plan for you die But as I say to as I say to clients you might have But you still you still need a plan for what happens die And again I And again, I mentioned earlier that that. almost that almost every estate planning attorney can help you with guardianship with varying levels and comprehensiveness and that's And that's one of the pieces where that is that is that most estate planning attorneys will help you to create a death Around your kids and kids and around guardianship, but they skip the possibility that you could be in a you could be in a car accident and not die, or over the last couple of years that you could get COVID die and not and not but be able to take care able to take care of your kids And your death plan is of no value to anyone. If you have not. yet Your wills that have that have guardianship nominations for your kids are of no If you're If you're still alive Cause we can't file your will unless you die. And important important to really think through all of these issues all the way we really go deep I have a coach who talks about going into going into an inch an inch wide deep like really really topics And that's how And that's how I think about estate planning clients Sometimes they Sometimes they look at me why are we Why are we doing this And my answer is answer because I don't want ever want anybody in your family look around and say, say oh what do we That there should always be always be an answer to the question now Obviously, Obviously within. But you've got to you know you've these issues all the issues all the way through and there's got to be contingencies cause all kinds of things

23:48 Mike: This is why I love people yourself doing this kind of work. Because I think of myself sometimes as opposite David, where I to know a little bit about a lot of topics to help families do planning all these areas. But then I have to reach out to the experts like yourself that have deep knowledge in these areas to help, families that need. That specific thing to be implemented to go to that expert and go the mile deep. So I really appreciate that I'd be remiss I didn't ask another question, I know that your planning is so comprehensive. We've talked a lot about that today. What you do with clients, , how this process works, just in general, clients should be thinking about in terms of planning their family, all the bits and pieces that need be a part of that and how you would walk them through that. But I get a lot of questions about online and stuff too. Hey, can I just, fill out like online will or the trust, or what do you think about, I found this thing on whatever.com do I have to, hire the expert and pay that amount of money? Or can I do this myself? I needed to ask you that question as well. What are resources parents should, use or not use, or how to think about that?

24:54 David: A couple of things. Number of things Number one I'm not going to I'm not going to pretend there's not a resources There's a lot of There's a lot of online resources to do everything I want to I want to rewire my house. I just Google and come up with YouTube videos videos. Next thing you know, I'm house now now I may Electrocute myself or burn my house down in the process but I can do it there. So we'll acknowledge there's tons of online resources Here's the problem with online You don't you don't know what you don't and online online resources aren't necessarily helping you to understand what you don't They're not They're not asking you all the questions, a really attorney would ask you to help you think you think about things that? you're not naturally When I talk When I talk about short-term guardians Every parent I ever raised that with has looked at looked at me with utter surprise Now, ultimately ultimately grateful. Thank you so that because I because I had no but that's one of the things they of the things they don't away from legal zoom and they've got and they've got no short-term guardians because legal zoom, isn't asking do you do you want to guardians guardians. The other problem with online resources by design. They're very They're very middle of the plain plain vanilla, generic Resources they can't go too far, a field of where of where most are or where or where they think most people are or should And so it's a And so it's a very narrow lane that you travel down when are creating an creating an estate plan with an online But most most importantly, you just don't know. And so you And so you end what I would what I would call a leaky bucket of an estate plan. Except for you don't know that the all over the place. You think wow I got this I got this stuff and no one and no one discovers the bucket has been leaking all over the place for all these years, until something happens to you and your family plan just doesn't do what you needed it to do do. And by then, it's it So there's, there's there are lots of online resources and they're uh but I think think, especially for parents with young kids, it's dangerous to think that think that you can do own. The other The other thing I caution this is a cautionary tale, but I used to I used to be on these once upon a time is that is that there's a lot of people out there who get legal services uh Hyatt legal services uh MetLife And so a lot of people will try to do that Through their plan but again but again legal service plans for the And I used to And I used to be on panel uh I mean I did uh once upon a time not but the planning planning that is offered through those again tends to be very simple will will healthcare proxy, power of attorney Boom that's it that's it. But that's Maybe one one quarter of a plan that plan that I would normally families with young kids. And again And again, people get a false sense of security out of using these plans. Interestingly when I the Erik the thing that made me leave Eric's was I was I was working with a prospective client who had a child with special needs They needed they needed more planning, planning than their plan for, and they said And they said, no, we just want to stick with the plan that is included included with our work benefits I knew to work for their family at all. That if at all That if anything ever with that kind of plan in place their their child would it just it would it just, it would have been a disaster for their child. And the next day I Eric And I said And I said I going to resign from So that's the pro that's the that's with with some of the legal service plans that work work? My if I want need want, need my house to be rewired, I'm calling a master I'm not trying to do this myself. I'm not I'm call a local journeymen, handyman or carpenter to to try his hand at rewiring the house send me a send me a professional I'll pay the bill the bill Let's Right I don't want to electrocute myself. I don't want to burn my house down hurt my family, kill my family I feel about feel about estate planning pretty much

29:03 Mike: Yeah, one thing that said to me before that resonated was idea that you don't know what you know, and you also won't know it until you're not. So in other words, it'll be their family up the pieces of those guardians. Your other family members that will picking up the pieces and may discover that something doesn't done appropriately, or you didn't, take it to that deep level of really covering contingencies or forgetting things or not having it organized. And you won't know until you're not around . Whoever you leave behind will be left, picking up those pieces. That was another point that thought was really as really important, what, you're exactly what you're saying.

29:45 David: Yeah, unfortunately, the mess will be as you said the mess said, the mess will be for your family to try and get after you're gone And it's a whole it's a whole to get it's almost It's almost impossible to clean it up effectively at that point. You're just at that point, you just doing the best you can with what

30:00 Mike: David, what are some actions that people listening today that haven't gotten started on this that realized is something I need to get going on? What are some actions that you would recommend getting started with?

30:12 David: The first action would action would be, make a decision. I'm going to in place. Make the Everything everything else follows from the decision and then figure out what's your next Whenever I Whenever I do a workshop or a webinar, or whenever I'm teaching I am always giving somebody a potential next step You may choose may choose to take the step or not take the step but I'm not just going to teach you and you and then luck Because Uh because as Bruce Lee said to know and not to do. So you got to So you gotta there's some doing but it all but But it all starts with a decision, make a decision get some some, we're going to get a plan in place and then dig into the doing Maybe the Maybe the doing part is asking people for recommendations about a really planner surprisingly enough enough That's how a lot of come to our door because they because they posted literally any Facebook group a parent group in We're thinking We're thinking about doing this. Does anybody Have any better to recommend. And very often our name will bubble up interesting to me. So decision get started get started doing see research find estate a good estate planning attorney in your area. A personal family, lawyer is a great place to searching if you're if you're outside particularly outside of Massachusetts And And if you're looking for somebody who's really focused on families with cause that's uh cause that's a good network kinds of those kinds of estate planning attorneys across and call up somebody, reach out reach out to to take that next step next step. One of the reasons we've got so many resources on our website is so that it's easy to take take a next step. And if you take one you're you're likely to take the next step after that, because because is It is the undoing right? Even even outside you we're like where like do that. And then you don't you don't do anything. And then that enthusiasm and a lot of And a lot of parents kick the estate planning can and over and over again I can't tell you how many tell you how many my office apologizing coming in coming in through the door or coming in through a zoom room should have been We should have been here years ago. We should have been here years ago We meant to do it We're Apologizing My answer is my answer is always it doesn't matter what you didn't do yesterday. only matters what matters what you do today and moving So make a

Make a decision, take the next step

32:35 Mike: I love that. Just make the decision because and then say it out loud. Say it to yourself. If you're listening right now, just make the decision. And say it out loud or write it down because then you will follow through on that next step. If made the decision to forward, you will find a way you will find the right resource. I'm not worried about that. thank you for saying it that way, I love that. Just make the decision, say it out loud, hold yourself accountable. And you will find the next tonight tomorrow this week and start making it happen. So David, where can people find out more about you and your

ying away we've got an got an:

34:25 Mike: thanks, David Appreciate it. The resources on the website are awesome. I can attest to that. So check those out. There. Definitely something for everybody for you in thinking about and go there. Get started. Find that step, David really appreciate taking the time and sharing so much. I learned a lot on this one again today. So thanks for.

34:44 David: thanks again for thanks again for having me. It was great to be with you

34:46 Mike: Thanks for joining us on financial planning for entrepreneurs. If you like, what you heard, please subscribe to and rate the podcast on Apple iTunes, Google play Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can connect with me on linkedin or mortonfinancialadvice.com. I'd love to get your feedback. If you have a comment or question, please email me at . Until next time thanks for tuning in

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