Terms and Conditions

Posted on

Terms and Conditions 

Please Read These Terms and Conditions Carefully Before Using The Site.

By using TheEstatePlanningSource.com website, you agree to follow and be bound by these terms and conditions and agree to comply with all applicable laws and regulations described below.  If you do not agree to these terms and conditions, please do not use the site. Please note:  we may revise these terms and conditions at any time without notice to you.  If you have any questions regarding the terms and conditions, please contact us at 1.800.292.0223.

Please also refer to the Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. Privacy Policy, which is incorporated by reference herein.


Before using this website, you must review and accept the following terms and conditions (the “Agreement”). The Agreement defines your rights and responsibilities as a user ("User") of the website operated by Estate Planning Source, LLC. (Together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, “The Source” or “we”) and located at TheEstatePlanningSource.com (the “Website” or “The Source”). The Website is operated in the United States of America. Access is governed by these terms and conditions under the laws of the State of Nevada and the United States. Registration as a user of or subscriber to the Website results in your information being stored and processed in the United States, and you specifically consent to The Source’s storage and processing the personal data you submit. The Website and services provided herein are intended for adults. When a minor uses the Website, the parent or guardian of that minor will be held responsible for the minor’s actions. If you don't agree with any of these terms, or if you have any objections to our Privacy Policy you must not use the Website.

Description of the Service

The Source offers an online service where Users review and download marketing and occupational related content and tools (the “Service”). Users of the Website also communicate with other Users in order to collaborate and exchange related information (together with the Users of the Website and other websites and platforms owned by affiliate companies of The Source, including The Estate Plan, Inc., as “The Source Community”). The Website contains graphics, information, data, user generated information, editorial and other content accessible by Users (the “Content”). Except for Article and Case Study Content, which are governed by the third parties that created the content. The Website is protected by copyright as a collective work and/or compilation, pursuant to U.S. copyright laws, international conventions, and other copyright laws.


This website TheEstatePlanningSource.com is owned and operated by Estate Planning Source, LLC. All right, title and interest in and to the materials provided on The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc including but not limited to information, documents, logos, graphics, sounds, and images (the "Materials") are owned either by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc or by its respective third party authors, developers, or vendors ("Third Party Providers").  Except as otherwise expressly provided by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc, none of the Materials may be copied, reproduced, republished, downloaded, uploaded, posted, displayed, transmitted, or distributed in any way and nothing on this Site shall be construed to confer any license under any of The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc or The Estate Plan, Inc’s intellectual property rights, whether by estoppel, implication, or otherwise. The Source or The Estate Plan, Inc does not sell, license, lease or otherwise provide any of the Materials other than those specifically identified as being provided by The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc. Any rights not expressly granted herein are reserved by The Source or The Estate Plan, Inc.

Rules of Conduct

Before using the Website, you agree to comply with all applicable laws and refrain from infringing any third-party rights or interests (for example, privacy and intellectual property rights). You must also agree that you will not knowingly or willfully submit inaccurate, defamatory or offensive Content to the Website. In addition, the following policies are part of this Agreement and must be followed anytime you access the Website. The Source reserves the right to change these policies from time to time and the changes take effect when we post them on the Website:

 A. Rules of Conduct; here are the rules that all The Source members and visitors to the website need to know and follow. These rules are created to protect you and the entire The Source community.

No The Source member or visitor to the website may:

A. Post, transmit, or display anything that is illegal, threatening, harmful, abusive or otherwise objectionable. For example, but not limited to, actions that are harassing, invasive of another's privacy, degrading, defamatory, vulgar, hateful, libelous, fraudulent, obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, hateful or racially or ethnically objectionable.

B. Post, transmit, or display content which is protected by copyright or trademark or that does not belong to you and that you do not have authorization for use from the owner of the copyright or trademark, including but not limited to email messages.

C. Post, transmit, upload, or display content which contains proprietary or confidential information that you do not have a right to transmit. For example, but not limited to, posting any photos of living individuals without their permission or posting anyone else's email addresses without their consent.

D. Post or publish any information that you know is false or misleading. For example, but not limited to, impersonating any person or entity, or falsely misrepresenting your affiliation with any person or entity, or falsely claiming an endorsement that you do not have, or misrepresenting that you are an employee or representative of The Source or affiliated with The Source.

E. Post, transmit or make available advertising, promotional materials, junk mail, chain letters or any other form of solicitation.

F. Stalk or harass others. For example, but not limited to, using obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, unlawful, threatening, abusive or vulgar language, or any other action that is hateful racially or ethnically, or is otherwise objectionable.

G. Reproduce, copy or sell any portion of The Source or The Source database contents, or systematically download contents and data of The Source database to make or populate another database or website or for any other purpose.

H. Interfere or attempt to interfere with The Source website. For example, but not limited to, using any software program, virus or routine to block, obscure, overwrite or modify any The Source-generated content or web pages, or to destroy the software, hardware or telecommunications equipment of another person.

I. Stalk or harass any The Source employee. For example, but not limited to, using obscene, pornographic, sexually explicit, unlawful, threatening, abusive or vulgar language to any The Source employee, or abusing The Source resources, such as misusing an The Source employee’s time.

J. Share your The Source member password with any unauthorized person, or permit a child under the age of 18 to publish information or post content under your The Source membership.

K. Use the Websites for any illegal activity, or provide material which promotes or teaches illegal activity.

This list is not exclusive. The Source prohibits members or any other person from engaging in any activity that The Source, in its sole discretion, determines is offensive, interferes with the rights of others, or causes harm to any person, including to The Source and its employees. Violation of, or acting inconsistently with, the letter or spirit of our rules may result, in appropriate consequences and at our sole discretion, suspension, cancellation or termination of the accounts of the offending user, and such violation may result in the forfeiture of any and all fees that the User has already paid to be a member of the Service or any other fee. The preceding sentence shall not in any way limit any other remedy, legal, equitable or otherwise, that The Source may pursue.

B. Community Guidelines: If we believe, in our sole discretion, that you are in breach of this Agreement or are acting inconsistently with the letter or spirit of this Agreement, we may limit, suspend or terminate your access to our Website. In such a case, no portion of your subscription payment will be refunded. Should we decide to suspend your access for any reason other than a breach by you, we will not refund you which will be your sole and exclusive remedy upon such a suspension.

Welcome to the world's largest online community dedicated to living trusts and estate planning. This is your chance to share ideas. Ask questions. Offer advice. Forge meaningful connections. Make groundbreaking discoveries. Overall, it's an opportunity to collaborate and share with your peers and other community members interested in estate planning.

The more active you are in The Source, the more you'll get out of it.

These guidelines will help you and others enjoy your experience. However, please remember that all use of the site is governed by the terms and conditions relating to them, which take precedence over these guidelines.

Community Values

Our community comprises The Source and The Estate Plan, all of which encourage open and frequent communication between members.

Here are the core beliefs behind our community:  

Everyone has something to contribute to the community.

Honest, open communication is essential, but it must be delivered with respect for other members' thoughts and expressions.

Member Conduct and Use

This community is your forum for sharing thoughts, experiences, resources and discoveries. We appreciate your participation. However, we ask that you carefully read and follow the guidelines below. You'll find that most of them come naturally to you.

As a community member, please: 

Simply treat others the way you want to be treated.

Respond to the subject (and not the person) if you disagree with something in a post.

Share only your own thoughts, ideas and content.

Post only information appropriate for a given topic. For example, if you're posting on the "The Watercooler" Forum, you should be writing only in reference to estate planning topics.

On the other hand, please: 

Don't post any photos of living individuals (other than just you) or anyone else's email addresses without their consent.

Don't harass abuse or threaten other members.

Don't post any content that's vulgar, hateful, sexually explicit, illegal or otherwise offensive.

Don't post commercial messages, fee-for-service postings, advertising or related links, etc.

Don't include identifiable information about living people without their direct consent, or, in the case of minors, the consent of their parent or guardian. This includes (but is not limited to) a person's full name, location or contact information.

Don't post anything you didn't personally create. That includes copyrighted material you're not authorized to distribute and email messages.

Don't impersonate any individual, business or other entity. Don't pretend to be an employee or representative of The Source or anyone affiliated with The Source or The Estate Plan. Inc.

Don't post a "seeking information" (query) message with a non-query (data) menu classification selection.

We reserve the right to delete messages that violate our terms and conditions, move messages posted in the wrong place and edit the surname field, subject line, etc. in any message. We reserve the right to do any of the above without notice in order to preserve community integrity and ensure that people can find what they're seeking.

Member-Contributed Content

We do not pre-screen or monitor member-contributed content. Please let us know if you encounter material that you feel is inappropriate under these guidelines or violates our terms and conditions.

We can't be responsible for the content our members create and share in the community. However, we do reserve the right to remove any postings that disregard the above guidelines or violate our terms and conditions. Serious violations or offenses will subject the responsible member to account termination.

Important Note: Any information you post in our community is public and can be copied, modified and distributed by others. By submitting or posting content in our community, you expressly grant The Source the rights set forth in the terms and conditions.

We may modify these guidelines from time to time. Please check back regularly for updates.  Nothing on this site should be construed as legal or tax advice.

Subscription Terms, Fees and Payments 

Users of the Website may be unregistered visitors, registered guests, paying subscribers or Users that pay per time they view a record. The different payment options and services offered for the different levels will be published on the relevant Website or at the time a subscription or other service is offered or renewed. The terms and conditions applying to such subscriptions or other services will be incorporated into this Agreement.

Terms for All

You must be 18 years or older to register or subscribe. You must provide The Source with accurate, complete, and up-to-date registration information. Failure to do so will constitute a breach of this Agreement. As part of the registration process, you will select a username and password. You understand that you may not (i) select or use a name of another person with the intent to impersonate that person; (ii) use the rights of any person without authorization; or (iii) use a name that we, in our sole discretion, deem inappropriate. You are responsible for all usage or activity on The Source via your account. Distribution of your password to others for access to The Source is expressly prohibited. You will never be required to reveal your password to any representative or agent of The Source, its owners or agents. You must notify us by regular mail or by e-mail at info@theestateplan.com of any known or suspected unauthorized use(s) of your account, or any known or suspected breach of security, including loss, theft, or unauthorized disclosure of your password or billing information.

All subscriptions are automatically renewing. This means that once you become a subscribing member, your subscription will be automatically renewed and your billing choice will be charged unless you opt out or cancel by following the instructions in this Agreement.  You will be notified via e-mail before your subscription ends and asked to correct any information which has changed and whether you wish to "opt out" of your renewal. The renewal of the subscription takes place subject to the terms in force on the date of renewal.

When other offers, promotions or free trials are made available, the specific terms and conditions that apply to each will stated at the time of purchase; please ensure you have noted any relevant rules, cancellation dates or price changes when a promotion or free trial ends.

Opting Out of Renewal

You may opt out of renewing your subscription by calling The Source at 1.800.292.0223 or by logging into your My Account page on the Website at least two days before the renewal date. If you do not let us know that you want to terminate your subscription at least two days prior to the end of the current subscription period the payment for the renewal period of the subscription will be made.

Cancellations and Refunds

You may cancel within 24 hours under Buyer’s Remorse (only under a suspicion of having been overly influenced by the seller) and incur no charge. If the cancellation occurs after the first 24 hours, you will not receive a refund. For all renewals of subscriptions, you may cancel within 24 hours of the renewal date and receive a full refund.  Cancellations may be made by calling The Source at 1.800.292.0223 or by logging into your My Account page on the Website and providing the same information that you provided when you subscribed. Your cancellation must be received by end of business (5:00 p.m. Pacific Time) on the appropriate day as described above. All refunds will be given to the original credit card on which the purchase was made. Please allow a reasonable time for the refund to reach you or be charged back to your account.

Prices Subject to Change

Prices may be changed by The Source at any time and each renewal of your subscription will be at the then standard renewal cost for the period that you originally selected when you subscribed. The Source shall provide you with reasonable notice of any change in prices prior to the effective date of the new pricing by email or other reasonable means such as a notice on the website or in usual member communications. If you do not wish to continue with your subscription due to the new prices, you may opt out of renewal as set forth in this Agreement.

Links to Third Party Sites

This Site may contain links to Web sites controlled by parties other than Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc (the "Third Party Sites"). Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc  are not responsible for and does not endorse or accept any responsibility for the availability, the contents or use of the Third Party Sites or any Web site accessed from a Third Party Site, or any changes or updates to such sites. Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are not responsible for webcasting or any other form of transmission received from any Third Party Site. Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are providing these links to you only as a convenience, and the inclusion of any link does not imply endorsement by Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc of the Third Party Site. You acknowledge that you bear all risks associated with access to and use of content provided on Third Party Sites and agree that Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc are not responsible for any loss or damage of any sort you may incur from dealing with a third party. You should contact the site administrator for the applicable Third Party Site if you have any concerns regarding such links or the content located on a Third Party Site.

Use of the TheEstatePlanningSource.com “ The Watercooler”

The Source’s The Watercooler (“Forum”) is a collaborative community where attorneys and advisors discuss questions amongst their peers.  Access to and use of the Forum is subject to this paragraph section, in addition to the other terms and conditions listed.

Rights and Responsibilities of TheEstatePlanningSource.com

The Source is not the publisher or author of any works posted on the Forum. It is a passive service for storage and dissemination of the works that The Source members may choose to post and distribute via the Forum. The Source disclaims all copyright and ownership in such works and all responsibility for them.

Although it cannot make an absolute guarantee of system security, The Source takes reasonable steps to maintain security. If you have reason to believe system security has been breached, contact us.

If the The Source technical staff finds that files or processes belonging to a member pose a threat to the proper technical operation of the system or to the security of other members, The Source reserves the right to delete those files or to stop those processes. If the The Source technical staff suspects an account is being used by someone who is not authorized by the account holder, The Source may temporarily disable that account in order to preserve system security. In all such cases, The Source will contact the member as soon as feasible.

The Source has the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to (i) edit, redact, to otherwise change the content of any works posted on the Forum, (ii) re-categorize any post to place it in a more appropriate category, or (iii) delete any post that is determined to be inappropriate, including but not limited to works that use offensive language and works that are advertisements.

The Source reserves the right to refuse service to anyone and to cancel an account at any time.

Rights and Responsibilities of TheEstatePlanningSource.com Members or Other Posters to the Forum:

You are legally and ethically responsible for any works - writings, files, pictures, or any other work - that you post or transmit on the Forum (or any other The Source service that allows interaction or dissemination of information). In posting works on the Forum, you are responsible for honoring the rights of others, including intellectual-property rights (copyright, patent, and trademark), the right to privacy, and the right not to be libeled or slandered. For example, if you wish to post a copyrighted work on the Forum, you are responsible for obtaining the copyright holder's permission first.

Under United States Federal law, you retain copyright on all works you create and post to the Forum, unless you choose specifically to renounce it. In posting a work on the Forum, you authorize other members who have access to that service to make personal and customary use of the work, including creating links or reposting, but not otherwise to reproduce or disseminate it unless you give permission for such dissemination. You also give permission to The Source to copy your works as part of the normal backup process. You have the right to remove any of your works from the Forum at any time.

The use of your The Source membership or posting on the Forum for any illegal activity under the laws of Nevada and the United States is a violation of these Terms of Use. Since the law as to jurisdiction of online systems is unsettled, we urge you to consider the possible effect of laws outside The Source locality or your own residence. The Source is open to members worldwide (and works published on the World Wide Web, Usenet, or other such services are accessible to anyone on the Internet), and The Source cannot guarantee that you won't run into legal trouble from other jurisdictions over your works.

Your Rights and Responsibilities as a TheEstatePlanningSource.com Member and Reader of Postings on the Exchange

You are not required to provide your real name when signing up as a member of The Source. The Source permits anonymous or pseudonymous accounts. Any member may request that such member’s e-mail address be hidden to provide for additional privacy.

If you have a complaint about the behavior or posts of another member, it is your responsibility to attempt to resolve the conflict, typically by contacting that person directly. Normally, The Source staff will not take a role in mediating conflicts between you and other members. The Source does not take responsibility for your behavior or that of other members. Notwithstanding the foregoing, should such a complaint or conflict arise, the member or members may request that The Source moderator intervene and attempt to resolve any dispute. Any such request is not a guarantee that a moderator will (i) intervene, (ii) intervene in a timely manner, (iii) resolve the dispute in favor of one party or the other, or (iv) successfully resolve the situation. The decision to intervene rests with The Source, in its sole and absolute discretion.

Your access to the works that members have posted on the Forum is for your personal use only. If you want to redistribute works you find on the Forum, it is your responsibility to obtain permission from the poster (and any other person with rights in such work).

You agree to help protect your account and the security of other members by guarding your password. If you have reason to believe your password has been compromised or there has been any unauthorized use of your account, contact us as soon as possible.

Use of TheEstatePlanningSource.com “Event’s Happening Near You”

The information contained in the Event’s Happening Near You section was gathered from attorneys and advisors via questionnaires. Product and service were not verified, and The Source does not make any warranty, expressed or implied, or assume any legal liability or responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of the product and service provided. The listing of products and services does not represent an endorsement by The Source. In addition, because of the rapidly changing nature of the subject industries, the information may become outdated, and the list is in no way exhaustive. It is the sole responsibility of anyone using the information in a What’s Happening Near You to complete a thorough due diligence to confirm the validity of the information. In no way will The Source be liable for any damages arising out of the provision or use of the What’s Happening Near You section.








You agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Estate Planning Source, LLC, its officers, directors, shareholders, employees and agents from and against any and all claims, liabilities, damages, losses or expenses, including reasonable attorneys' fees and costs, arising out of or in any way connected with your access to or use of the Site and the Materials.

Unsolicited Submissions

The Source does not want you to submit confidential or proprietary information to it through this Site, without first contacting The Source. All comments, feedback, information or material submitted to The Source through or in associate with this Site shall be considered non-confidential and The Sources’ property, unless otherwise set forth herein or agreed to by The Source in writing. By providing any unsolicited submissions to The Source you hereby assign to The Source, at no charge, all worldwide right, title and interest in and to the submissions and any intellectual property rights associated therewith.  The Source shall be free to use and/or disseminate such submissions on an unrestricted basis for any purpose. You acknowledge that you are responsible for the submissions that you provide, including their legality, reliability, appropriateness, originality and content.


Any sweepstakes, contests, raffles or other promotions (collectively, “Promotions”) made available by The Source may be governed by rules that are separate from this Agreement. If you participate in any Promotions, please review the applicable rules as well as our Privacy Policy.  If the rules for a Promotion conflict with this Agreement, the Promotion rules will apply.

Modifications to this Agreement

The Source has the right, at its sole discretion, to modify this Agreement at any time. Changes will be posted on the Website and by changing the date of last revision on this Agreement. If any portion of this Agreement or any change to the Website is unacceptable to you or will cause you to no longer be in compliance with the Agreement, you may cancel your subscription by following the instructions in this Agreement. Continued use of the Website now or following posted notices of changes in this Agreement means that you have accepted and are bound by the changes.

Compliance with Laws

You may not access, download, use or export the Site or Materials in violation of United States Federal or state laws or regulations, or in violation of any other applicable laws or regulations. Any such violation is expressly against these terms of use and you must cease from using this Site immediately.


Minors are not eligible to use the Site, and we ask that they do not submit any personal information to us.

Use of Materials upon Membership Termination

Upon termination with The Source and The Estate Plan, Inc., you will immediately destroy any downloaded or printed Materials. Any unauthorized use of any Materials contained on this Site may violate copyright laws, trademark laws, the laws of privacy and publicity and communications regulations and statutes.

Governing Law; Venue

By using this Site, you expressly agree that your rights and obligations shall be governed by and interpreted in accordance with the laws of the State of Nevada, excluding its choice of law rules. Any legal action or proceeding relating to your access to or sue of the Site or Materials shall be instituted in a state or federal court in Nevada, and in the County of Washoe. You and The Source agree to submit to the jurisdiction of, and agree that venue is proper in, these courts in any such legal action or proceeding. These terms of use expressly exclude and disclaim the terms of the U.N. Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, which shall not apply to any transaction conducted through or otherwise involving this Site.


All Site design, text, graphics, the selection and arrangement thereof, Copyright © 2012, Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


Estate Planning Source, LLC, theEstatePlanningSource.com ,The Estate Plan, Inc., The Estate Plan all images and text, and all page headers, custom graphics and button icons on the Site are service marks, trademarks, and/or trade dress of Estate Planning Source, LLC and The Estate Plan, Inc . All other trademarks, product names and company names or logos cited herein are the property of their respective owners.


If a dispute arises between you and The Source, our goal is to provide you a neutral and cost effective means of resolving the dispute quickly. To that end, you agree to first contact The Source Customer Support at 1.800.292.0223 to describe the problem and seek a resolution. If that does not resolve the issue, then you and The Source agree to the following methods to resolve any dispute or claim between us. First, you agree that this Agreement is governed by the law of the State of Nevada, without regard to its principles on conflicts of laws, and the federal law of the United States of America. Second, you agree that you will seek arbitration consistent with the rules before initiating any litigation. If arbitration cannot resolve the issue, you agree to submit to the personal jurisdiction of the courts located within Washoe County, Nevada for the purpose of litigating all such claims or disputes.

Any arbitration will be governed by the Commercial Dispute Resolution Procedures and the Supplementary Procedures for Consumer Related Disputes of the American Arbitration Association (collectively, "AAA Rules"). The AAA Rules and costs are available online at www.adr.org or by calling the AAA at 1.800.292.0223. YOU AND THE SOURCE AGREE THAT EACH MAY BRING CLAIMS AGAINST THE OTHER ONLY IN YOUR OR ITS INDIVIDUAL CAPACITY AND NOT AS A PLAINTIFF OR CLASS MEMBER IN ANY PURPORTED CLASS OR REPRESENTATIVE PROCEEDING. Further, unless both you and The Source agree otherwise, the arbitrator may not consolidate more than one person’s claims, and may not otherwise preside over any form of a representative or class proceeding. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this arbitration agreement does not preclude you from bringing issues to the attention of federal, state, or local agencies. Such agencies can, if the law allows, seek relief against us on your behalf.  This arbitration provision shall survive termination of this Agreement.


We reserve the right to assign or transfer our rights and obligations under this Agreement. These terms are personal to you and, as a result, you may not without the written consent of The Source assign or transfer any of your rights and obligations under these terms.

You acknowledge and agree that The Source may disclose your information if The Source believes that it is required to do so by law, or that such preservation or disclosure is reasonably necessary to: (a) comply with legal process or governmental requests; (b) enforce the Agreement; (c) respond to claims that any content violates the rights of third parties; or (d) protect the rights, property, or safety of the Website, the users, or the public.

In the event that any term of this Agreement is held to be invalid or unenforceable, the remainder of these terms shall remain valid and enforceable. We can replace any term which is not valid and enforceable with a term of similar meaning which is valid and enforceable.

Any failure by us to enforce any term of the terms of this Agreement shall not affect our right to require performance at any subsequent time, nor shall the waiver by us of any breach by you of any provisions of these terms be taken to be a waiver of the provision or provisions itself.

You agree to indemnify us against all liabilities, claims and expenses that may arise from any breach of this Agreement by you or otherwise as a result of your use of the Services or Website.

Official correspondence must be sent via postal mail to:

The Estate Planning Source
Attn: Customer Solutions
730 Sandhill Road, Suite 120
Reno, NV 89521

This Agreement, including any terms, conditions and policies expressly referenced herein, shall constitute the complete understanding and agreement between you and us, and shall supersede and cancel any prior or contemporaneous understandings and agreements, except as expressly provided otherwise by The Source.


You’re Young; Do You Need an Estate Plan?

Posted on

While the trend these days is for people to live well into their 80s and 90s, I'm hearing more and more about the unexpected deaths of people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s. During my 15 years of practice I've met with my fair share of young widows or widowers or the parents of a child who died unexpectedly, and in all cases but one there wasn't any estate planning done. And even in the one estate where the deceased husband did have a will, it had been written while he was still single and lived in New Jersey and it hadn't been updated after the birth of his child, his second marriage, or even after the couple moved to Florida. What a mess that was to deal with and I hate to say this, but in the big picture the young family probably would have been better off without any will at all instead of an extremely old and out of date will. I can't emphasize enough how important it is for everyone, young and old alike, to have an estate plan. But as my example of the young husband who failed to update his will after major changes in his life demonstrates, that's really not enough. You also need to make sure that all of the important documents that are included in your estate plan - wills, trusts, powers of attorney, advance medical directives - are kept up to date and change as your family, finances, and the law change. This will require a yearly meeting with your estate planning attorney, but that's OK because you need to understand that estate planning is not a one shot deal but an ongoing process. And the time to start the process or continue the process is now.

In a 2004 survey conducted by Lawyers.com, the two most frequent reasons adult Americans cited for not having an estate plan were insufficient assets and not being old enough to need a plan. Sadly, those who hold these beliefs are greatly mistaken. With life's ups and downs comes the need for basic estate planning for both the young and old alike. Here are six estate planning tips for young singles and couples that can nonetheless be used by singles and couples of all ages.

1. Don't Rule Out a Prenuptial Agreement If you are young and do not think that you need a prenuptial agreement before getting married, think again. Many circumstances warrant at least considering a prenuptial agreement, including being involved in a family-owned business or owning your own business; having part of your paycheck stashed away in a 401(k) or other retirement plan; the possibility of inheriting assets from your family; owning a residence that will be used as the marital home; or marrying someone who has already accumulated a large amount of debt. A prenuptial agreement can protect what assets you currently have or significant assets that you expect to inherit, and can also protect you from your spouse-to-be's debts acquired before the marriage.

2. Make an Estate Plan for Medical Emergencies Twenty-six year old Terri Schiavo of Florida certainly did not anticipate slipping into a coma in 1990 and then having her husband and parents fight over her medical care and ultimate wishes for the next 15 years. Planning for medical emergencies is a must for everyone and should include the signing of two important legal documents called a Living Will and an Advance Medical Directive.

3. Make an Estate Plan for Financial Emergencies If you are out of the country on business and your spouse is at home trying to sell the house, or if you are in an accident and expected to fully recover but will be in the hospital for a while, then you will need a Durable Power of Attorney to allow your spouse or other person of your choice to manage your finances and sign legal documents on your behalf.

4. Make an Estate Plan for an Untimely Death Planning for an untimely death is important, particularly if you are in a committed relationship and/or have young children. If you fail to make an estate plan, then the state where you live at the time of your death will make one for you and in most situations the plan will not be what you would have wanted had you taken the time to make your own plan. Aside from this, assets titled in your individual name will need to be probated to transfer them into your beneficiaries' names after you die. Having at least a basic Last Will and Testament in place that puts someone in charge of settling your estate and names your preferred beneficiaries and a guardian for your minor children will give your loved ones peace of mind during a difficult time.

5. Make an Estate Plan for Your Minor Children Even if you do not think that you have enough money or property to need an estate plan, you will need to make a plan if you have minor children. If you do not, then control of the minor's inheritance will be taken over by a court-supervised guardian or conservator. Then, depending on the laws of the state where the minor lives, when the minor reaches the age of 18 or 21 all of the remaining guardianship funds will be turned over to the young adult, free and clear of any guidance or strings attached. Aside from this, if you and the other parent of your children both die while the children are still minors, then the children will become wards of the court until a judge can decide who the children should live with until they become adults.

6. Buy Term Life Insurance When you are young, term life insurance is really cheap and can offer your family financial security if you were to die prematurely. The insurance proceeds can be used for things such as paying off your outstanding medical and credit card bills; paying off your mortgage; replacing your lost income; paying for your children's care and education; and/or paying for a live in nanny, day care or after school care. Term life insurance is also easy to buy these days with services like Intelliquote, Quickquote and Reliaquote. Or, if you are offered term life insurance at work, buy it.

Everyone Needs an Estate Plan

Estate planning is not just for older or wealthy people. Younger people, especially those with minor children, need to have a will and estate plan in place in order to give instructions to their loved ones to follow in the event of a debilitating accident or untimely death. Celebrities like Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith (also known as Vickie Lynn Marshall), Princess Diana, John F. Kennedy, Jr., Janis Joplin, Michael Jackson, and, most recently, Brittany Murphy, all died unexpectedly, and yet each and every one of them had a will and estate plan. It's just common sense.

Julie's Wills & Estate Planning Blog

Why Does Probate Take So Long? (In California)

Posted on

In California probate proceedings are governed by the Probate Code which sets forth certain time limits. Once a petition for probate is filed, you will receive a date for the first hearing in which an administrator or executor is appointed. The hearing is often 2-3 months after the petition has been filed. Once the representative has been appointed, notice has to be given to creditors of the decedent. Creditors have four months after publication of the notice of probate or 60 days after receiving actual notice, whichever is later to file a claim. Then the process begins of collecting and valuing the decedent’s entire asset, paying the debts, taxes, possibly liquidating some assets, and finally distributed the assets to the heirs or beneficiaries.

The normal time for probate in San Diego County is between 9 months and 18 months. There are a number of factors that may make the probate process take longer. Some of these are:

1. Many beneficiaries 2. Beneficiaries that cannot be found 3. A will contest brought to dispute the validity of the will. If a contest is filed, it will have to be decided before the estate can be distributed. Sometimes this can take years if there are depositions that have to be taken and either mediation or a trial. 4. Disagreements among the beneficiaries such as who should be the administrator, whether the accounting is accurate, whether there are beneficiaries that should be disqualified, or having to set up a guardianship of the estate for minors. Each time a petition or motion is brought in the probate matter to resolve a disagreement; it lengthens the time for closing the estate. 5. A taxable estate. If the estate has to pay federal estate tax, this can delay closing the estate. This is not a problem for decedents who passed away in 2010, however in 2011, if the Legislature does not act, the federal estate tax threshold will revert to $1 million making many more estates subject to estate taxes. 6. A complicated estate with unusual assets. Typical estates consist of real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, etc. If one of the assets is a business, however, it can take time to appraise such an asset. The same is true of oil or mineral rights or other unusual assets. If there are many assets, it can also take additional time to appraise all the assets and liquidate them if they need to be.   Roy M. Doppelt