Estate Planning Case Studies
While every person’s life circumstances are different, there are general estate planning needs that can be determined based on factors such as age, employment, marital status, life goals, etc. To help you understand what documents you might need, I’ve created the following case studies for you to more easily identify which estate planning scenario best fits your current stage of life.
Please know that these are fictional clients used to highlight certain planning techniques, and are by no means comprehensive estate plans.
Kaitlyn | Millennial, newly employed, no dependents.
Kaitlyn is a millennial who recently graduated from Georgia Tech. She landed a really cool job as a software developer at a local Atlanta-based company, and she rents a loft apartment on the trendy West Side. While Kaitlyn does not have a spouse or kids to worry about and has not yet amassed a fortune, Kaitlyn could benefit from the following estate planning.
I would advise that Kaitlyn execute a simple will, a Financial Power of Attorney, and an Advance Health Care Directive. Since Caitlyn’s parents are in their 50’s and she has a good relationship with them, I would advise she name her parents as her co-agents under her Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney. In the event one of them is unable to serve, the other can serve alone. I would also name her parents as Executors under her Will in Successive Order. That way, just one of them will have to be sworn in and serve.
Lucy | Middle-aged, unmarried, pet-owner, and aunt.
Lucy is a single, 45-year-old executive at a healthcare company. She exercises at BLAST and plays Sunday tennis with her ALTA team. Lucy loves her 2 Golden Doodles and her nieces and nephews (her sister’s children). She may get married one day, but probably will not have or adopt kids of her own. Lucy owns her own home in Peachtree Park. She has significant assets in her company’s 401(k) plan, as well as separate savings and checking accounts. Lucy has term life insurance and disability through her company, but the amounts are not significant.
I would advise Lucy to execute Health Care Directives and a General Power of Attorney. I would also advise Lucy to create a pet trust in her Will if she is concerned about who will take care of her Golden Doodles if something should happen to her. The pet trust would also include a monetary amount for the recipient of the 2 dogs. Lucy’s best friend Tom is a dog-lover, so I would advise Lucy to name Tom as the trustee of the Pet Trust to take care of them.
If Lucy does not have any estate planning documents, her parents will be the default beneficiaries of her estate. If she wants to provide for her nieces and nephews, we could also make that provision in her Will. We could create a trust for the nieces and nephews if they are minors or we could even create an education trust. Since Lucy’s parents are in their late 70’s I would advise her to name her older sister as her agent under her Power of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive.
I would advise Lucy to name her sister as the Trustee of the trust for her nieces and nephews (if they are all Lucy’s sister’s children). If Lucy’s brother has children or will most likely have children, I would advise Lucy to name a trusted advisor to be the trustee of the education trust since Lucy’s sister may have an inherent conflict of interest.
Allison | 3 young-adult children, working part-time, divorced, and dating.
Allison lives in Brookwood Hills. She has two kids in college and one still in High School. She works part-time at a local boutique. Allison is now getting serious with Tim and may consider another marriage. Tim also has kids on his own.
First of all, if Allison hasn’t updated her Estate planning documents since her divorce, she needs to do that immediately as she may not want her ex-husband as the agent under her Advance Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney. Allison needs to make sure her college kids have executed Powers of Attorney and Advance Health Care Directive naming Allison and her ex-husband as Co-Agents. Once your kids are over the age of 18, they are adults and do not have to involve you in their financial affairs. God forbid they get injured and unresponsive, you would want to make sure you are the agent under their Advance Health Care Directives.
If Allison wants to get married to Tim, I would advise them to each consult with their lawyers on how they should merge or separate their assets whether that is through a prenuptial agreement or other planning. If Allison and Tim get married, I would NOT advise them to name each other as the Executors/Trustees of their Wills as this will only create conflict with their children of the first marriage. If Tim wants to create a marital trust for Allison, I would advise them to name a corporate or independent trustee to serve in that role.
Do any of these women sound like you? If not, check out the other case studies from my latest webinar here.
As I mentioned before, these are not comprehensive estate plans. If you’re ready to create or revisit your estate planning documents, contact me today for a free consultation at 678-704-2606 or firstname.lastname@example.org.