Critter Corner: Convincing My Brother to Do Estate Planning

Dear Oakley,

Welcome to the Critter Corner team! I’m really hoping you can help me with my dilemma. My wife and I recently did our estate planning, and I am convinced my twin brother’s family should too. He is reluctant to do so because he doesn’t think they need one, being 45 and in good health. With two kids and a house, I think they absolutely need one. Being twins, we’ve always been really close, and he typically trusts my advice, but he is being stubborn about this. Can you help me convince him of the need for estate planning for his family?

S. “Tate” Plann

Dear Tate,

Thanks for your question and for your warm welcome. It was wise of you and your wife to get your estate planning documents in order. It’s been estimated that as many as 60% of Americans die without a will or other estate planning documents. The number is even higher for younger Americans (70% of those aged 45-54) than for older Americans (54% of those aged 55-64).

This Week is Estate Planning Awareness Week

This week is a perfect time to address this subject and for your loved ones to think about getting their estate planning documents in order. Estate Planning Awareness Week was created to educate the public about the importance of estate planning and the MANY benefits. This year, it falls on October 21-27, 2019, so we are right in the thick of it.

Why Put Off or Delay Signing an Estate Plan?

Whether you’re young or old or rich or poor, everyone should have estate planning documents in place! Here are some of the reasons you can use to convince your brother:

• Sparing your family pain and strife: If you don’t have an estate plan, instead of people knowing what you want, you force loved ones to guess. That guessing can be the cause of a lot of pain and strife when you pass away, during what is likely a tough time for them. A comprehensive estate plan is one of the single biggest acts of love you can offer.

• Avoid probate: If you die without appropriate estate planning documents in place (or if you only have a Will in place), your estate will go through probate. The probate process is lengthy, public, expensive, and painful. You want an easy transition of your assets and probate is anything but. A living trust is the primary way to avoid the nightmare of probate.

Minimize taxes: Some advance planning can save your heirs from getting a big tax bill. For example, your beneficiaries will need to pay income tax on money they inherit in a traditional IRA. However, money you leave them in a Roth IRA can be withdrawn tax-free. A careful estate plan can create less of a tax burden for your relatives.

Choose a guardian for dependent children: Families with dependent children should make a plan for childcare if both parents pass away. Many young couples don’t think about it, but in the event of both of their untimely deaths, they need to appoint someone to be the guardian of their children. Of course, you would want a say in who would take care of your kids if something should happen to you! Setting up an estate plan enables you to designate the right person(s) and can prevent relatives from squabbling over who gets guardianship.

• Choose how to distribute your assets: An estate plan allows you to allocate your assets according to your wishes. If you don’t have an estate plan, your money and property may not be left to the person/people you had in mind.

As part of estate planning, an incapacity plan should also be set up to ensure that your wishes are met should you become incapacitated.

Hope this helps,


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About Renee Eder

Renee Eder is the Director of Public Relations for the Farr Law Firm, and gives the voice to the Critters of Critter Corner. Renee’s poodle, Penny, is an official comfort dog who she and her children bring to visit with seniors who are in the early stages of dementia at a local senior home once a month.