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- Did you notice how much time our estate planning questionnaire spends on guardianship and what you want to happen? Well by the end of this video, you'll know why. For the best estate planning, probate and trust administration videos, subscribe to my channel, hit the like button, the one that looks like this and the bell to be notified when I post a new video every Tuesday. In our last few videos, I talked about how important it is to look at your estate planning questionnaire which you can download below, I'll put a link in the comment section and in the description, how important it is to fill that out and to take your time doing it.

Because we spend a lot of time in that document talking about what you want to happen during your lifetime. Like I said in other videos, a lot of people think that estate planning is all about what happens after you pass away, but the reality is you really need to think about what you want to happen during your lifetime. And when you don't do that, you end up in horrible guardianship messes. And over the last several years, really over the last two years, we have seen more and more guardianship proceedings.

So first of all, your first question might be, what is a guardianship proceeding? Well, I like to call them, for lack of a better term, a living probate. So a probate is a really long and emotional process. Now imagine that same process almost but the person that you're talking about at the court house and that you're having to get up and go to a court house to talk to a judge, we have really nice judges but they're strangers, right? 

You're having to get up and talk to a stranger about your loved one who is still alive and what you think is the best course of action for your loved one. Now, most of the time, a guardianship proceeding proceeds very quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, what can happen is maybe your kids don't agree with what the husband wants to do with the wife or the stepkids don't agree with what the wife wants to do with their dad. Can you see where I'm going with this?

A guardianship proceeding can get really messy really quickly. I'm not even getting into the Medicare and Medicaid proceedings that can happen with a guardianship proceeding because literally they look at the total assets that are in their marriage but then I have heard of some people even getting divorced as parting guardianship proceedings just so they can get the benefits for their particular husband, wife, mother or father. And that to me is just crazy.

Think of the emotional toll it takes on the spouse that is still alive. They have to deal with their loved one getting a divorce from them when they know it's so clear that their loved one doesn't even know what's going on. Because that's why we're on the guardianship proceeding to begin with, right?

So I can tell you right now, if you have not made plans for what happens if you were to become incapacitated, end up in the hospital, or if you're just never gonna get better again, you need to make those decisions. If you're married, you need to sit down with your husband or wife, your life partner, and really have a serious discussion of what should happen if you or them get into that state.

Guys, again, I used to see these guardianships maybe two, three times a year, we are seeing them now two, three times a month and it's because as our population continues to age, the people in that population, you guys, are not making plans for what happens if you get sick. It is so important. Talk to your estate planning attorney whether it's us or somebody else, wherever you are, talk to your spouse or your life partner and find out exactly what both of you want to happen if one of you are to become incapacitated. It is so vitally important right now. I'm not even getting into the cost today which are outrageous.

A guardianship proceeding can cost as much or more as a probate proceeding. We have had several guardianship proceedings in the last several years that have cost way over 20, almost $30,000. Can you imagine that? Fighting with another family member over what is to happen with the same person that everybody loves, but nobody can figure out and come to a general consensus of how to work together and so you end up in court spending tens of thousands of dollars. $30,000 just to decide where dad goes or where mom goes, or any loved one goes.

So guys, please, we're seeing this over and over again, talk to your estate planning lawyer and get a guardianship plan in place so that you don't have to go through a guardianship proceeding or your spouse or family doesn't have to go through a guardianship proceeding. I'd be interested to know how many of you have a plan for incapacity and I'm not talking about insurance that helps pay the bills and that kind of stuff.

I'm actually talking about how many of you have a written plan in place that specifically says what would happen if you were to become incapacitated right now. I'd be interested to know so let me know in the comment section below if you have an incapacity plan or not. The bottom line in all of this is to make sure you look at that estate planning questionnaire and you guys decide what you want to happen. It is so important nowadays, especially with what's happening out in this crazy pandemic.

We don't know what it's gonna come out to be, we do know that we can plan for it and we can plan for our own personal care. And it's not just the pandemic, like I've talked about in other videos, you can get injured in a car wreck or even just slipping on the sidewalk, that's why they're called accidents, right? So make a plan and make sure everybody knows where that plan is and how to access it in case something were to happen to you.

The great thing about all of this is that it's up to you on how your estate plan is structured and customized specifically to your needs and your wants. If you missed our first videos on estate planning questionnaire, go back and watch them. I promise they'll be helpful. And click on the link below to get a copy of our estate planning questionnaire that we have been discussing in the last several videos, and that I use every day with my own clients. Also, check out these videos. This one up here and this one up here to up your state planning game. And if you like this video, please hit the like button and be sure to smash that subscribe button and share it with your friends. Have a great day and as always, have an awesome week. Thanks for watching.

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About the author 

Cortes Law Firm

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