Families on television can also offer lessons about how to avoid problems through planning. Let’s next look to the classic American family, the Cleavers.
We all know the cast of characters – Ward, June, Wally, The Beav. Ward and June are in their first (and likely only) marriage, with two good sons. Ward works his job from 9 to 5, and June always has a hot meal on the table when he gets home.
The planning needs of the Cleavers are to make sure they cover the basics. Their plan should especially address lifetime issues, such as incapacity. What happens to the family if something happens to mom or dad? How would they like their assets managed during a prolonged period of incapacity? Who should be named to take on that role?
Planning before something happens allows them to name their helpers ahead of time, rather than hoping a court gets it right in naming the person to be in charge of the boys as well as their assets.
They may also want to plan to avoid probate. Probate is the public, court-controlled process used to distribute assets of someone who dies without a will, or with only a will in place. It can be costly, with a national average of fees and expenses of between 3 and 6% of the gross estate. It is also time consuming.
A Revocable Trust will avoid much of the expense, delays and frustration associated with probate.