Writing Off Start-Up Costs

One of the biggest benefits of owning your own business is being able to write off certain expenses to lower your annual income tax liability. When done right, writing off business expenses, especially when they are investments in things or experiences you would invest in even if you did not have your business, is a lot like having the government subsidize the things you want to do in the world.

If you are starting a business, the good news is you can typically write off costs for starting, launching, and organizing your business. But you may face certain restrictions, and you need to know how to write off those expenses in a way that will benefit your business. To learn more, let’s take a look at the most common startup expenses businesses may write off for tax purposes.

Starting Expenses

You can write off many research expenses incurred when starting a business. Surveys, feasibility studies, market research, and similar costs are valid startup write-offs.

Launch Expenses

Many costs incurred while executing your business launch—like recruitment and training costs—can be deducted. Conversely, equipment purchases cannot be deducted because they’re subject to rules for deducting depreciation.

Organization Expenses

You can also write off the costs for creating your business entity. These typically include legal fees, accounting fees, and expenses for organizational meetings.

Now that you have a better idea of the type of startup expenses you can write off let’s go over how those expenses should be deducted.

The IRS puts a cap on first-year startup deductions at $5,000 and an additional $5,000 for organizational costs. But, if your startup expenses exceed $50,000, that first-year deduction cap will be reduced by the costs that exceed $50,000. Thus, if your startup expenses equal $54,000, your first-year deduction is reduced to $1,000. You would then lose the deduction entirely once your startup expenses exceed $55,000. In your second year, the rest of your expenses can be amortized and deducted in equal installments over 15 years.

If your business never gets off the ground and running, your startup costs could be considered personal costs and therefore non-deductible. In certain cases, however, these costs could be regarded as capital losses, so always consult with a tax advisor to ensure you are taking advantage of every tax break available to you.

As you can see, there are some big risks when it comes to identifying and allocating your expenses properly to maximize your deductions and minimize your tax liability. The decisions you need to make are important and shouldn’t be executed without first consulting with a trusted advisor, such as a Creative Business lawyer®. If you need tax help for your startup, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer® we are experienced in helping startups achieve success through careful financial and legal planning. We will guide you to  establish sound legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems for your business so you can focus on increasing revenue and enjoy the benefits entrepreneurship.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Mentorship Matters: How to Learn From Leadership

Mentoring can play a significant role in the success of any entrepreneur. Mentoring takes vision, dedication, and respect, all vital attributes for a mentor to attain in order to contribute positively to the growth of a mentee.  Let’s look at a few things you can do to mentor up and coming entrepreneurs and how these traits can help both parties climb to the top.

Envision a Positive Future

Everyone has to start somewhere. Today’s server could be tomorrow’s CEO. This familiar narrative is just as applicable to today’s CEO. To encourage the next generation of business leaders, it helps to know how to achieve your own career goals. Mentees benefit when people with experience encourage them to keep their eyes on the prize, and mentors benefit by reaffirming the principle that envisioning a positive future—and working toward that future—is the key to success.

Seek Experiential Learning

Envisioning a more successful future isn’t enough to bring that vision into reality, which is why job shadowing is so important. Experiencing that future in the present is the very best way to plan for it. And this is precisely what mentees need: to experience the future career they want now.

Some may have a change of heart after job shadowing a mentor, but it’s all part of working toward a future in real time that is right for them. Mentors can learn from this experience, too. By dedicating your time to giving mentees positive experiences, you’ll learn a great deal about the experience needed to achieve your own goals.

Successful business leaders seek out opportunities to learn and advance in their careers. Even if you are quite far down the path in your own career, consider using mentorship as a way to consciously get in touch with your own ambitions and take positive steps toward attaining them. Find those who have experienced the success you desire. Take some classes to refresh or sharpen your skills. No matter where you are in your career, gaining experience should always be a top priority.

Lead with Respect

Helping mentees envision and experience successful futures can help them decide where they want their career to go and how to get there. As a mentor, consider taking it one step further and treat your mentees like the future business leaders they are. Having someone in your chosen career field encourage you and believe in your future is indispensable in achieving your goals.

Having respect for young businessmen and women—and ourselves—is instrumental in professional advancement. When you have respect for others, you tend to give yourself more respect, and for a good cause, too. This is not just sound business advice, but this is a life lesson! A business leader who dedicates time to mentoring those early in their careers makes a positive impact on their industry. That, in turn, makes them a more valuable member of the business community, a necessary component to career advancement.

The key to achieving your career goals is always to keep growing and striving. But part of that process is knowing how to protect your interests to safeguard your future. If you are ready to take that step toward protecting the future you are working so hard for, begin by sitting down with us.

As your Business Attorney we are here to help you face the many challenges of owning and growing a business. We are experienced in helping entrepreneurs put protective measures in place to ensure their time can be spent on growth and giving back to the business community instead of putting out fires and fixing problems. If you want to safeguard your future, we can help you implement a robust legal, insurance, financial and tax system that protect your interests while you help others—and yourself—envision and work toward a more positive future.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

The Foolproof Training Method to Expand Your Business

One of the most critical components to building a company, as opposed to a solo practice, or even a business where you are managing everyone and everything, is to learn to step into your full leadership.

A primary key to that leadership is your ability to train your team so that you can confidently delegate key tasks and responsibilities that will free you up and allow your business to grow.

As a business owner, management is not the highest and best use of your time, energy, and talents. Carefully selecting support staff and then training them using a business model that emphasized leadership over management is an effective place to begin.

Most business owners train their team members using a project management style of training. Specific tasks are given, followed by specific instructions on how to do those tasks. The next logical step is for the owner to then monitor whether the tasks were done to the proper specifications.

This is not leadership. It’s project management. Using this model, the people you’ve hired will be disempowered, and you will get stuck in the role of babysitter, rather than leader.

Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple put it well when he said, “When you have really good people, you don’t have to baby them. By expecting them to do great things, you can get them to do great things. A-plus players like to work together, and they don’t like it if you tolerate B-grade work.”

Unless you want to be your company’s project manager, micro-managing details and always feeling stuck in the weeds, there’s an alternative methodology for training your team members that will establish your leadership and get the results you want, right from the start.

Outcome, Resources, Deadlines, and Check-Ins

When you are bringing on a new team member, instead of giving them specific tasks and specific ways to perform those tasks, and then holding them accountable to those tasks, give them outcomes, resources, deadlines, and check-ins.

Here’s how that looks:

First, identify the specific outcome the company needs.

For example, we need to publish a weekly article to our website and then send it out as a newsletter to our clients. Or, we need to send out a monthly newsletter to our clients each month. Or, we need to use this tracking software to ensure that everyone who calls our office gets a response weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annually.

Second, give the team member the specific company resources available to meet this outcome.

In our case, using the weekly article as an example, I would let the team member know where I’ve found or curated articles in the past. Or let the team member know to ask me for the article each week. I would then give the team member a login to our website and the service we use to send out the newsletter. I would also provide a document with standards for posting the weekly article and sending out the newsletter.

Third, give the team member a deadline.

Let your new team member know specifically when he or she is expected to have this outcome completely handled without any input from you. Then, let your team member begin, with you working in parallel, also completing the task yourself as a transition period, and set a  deadline date for the team member to take it over completely.

Finally, schedule periodic check-ins between the time that the outcome is given and the deadline date.

This allows the team member to communicate challenges  and identify any missing information.

This method allows your new team member to get in there and just start figuring it out, and make some mistakes (which is a key part of learning) while also having the support necessary to fill in any gaps in the training or resources.

Still not clear? Imagine you are trying to teach someone to tie their shoes. You could explain it for hours and hours. You could even show them how to do it. But until they get their hands on the laces,play around with them and make mistakes, they won’t ask for help – and they won’t learn to tie their shoes.

Make a shift today from the project management style of training and into the leadership style of training and watch your business expand. As your Business Attorney, we can help you to make decisions around your hiring process and ensure you are bringing A-level people to your team, to allowing this effective leadership style to be effortless.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Business Attorney. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

Brand or Bust? Why Branding Is Essential to the Longevity of Your Business

A strong, identifiable brand is an invaluable asset to any company. Many businesses can reap major rewards by building a brand image that accurately reflects the strength of the company. And in today’s business world, branding is necessary for businesses looking for longevity and growth.

So, what do small businesses need to know about branding in the business world? Branding might seem like just another marketing buzzword, but it is a simple, yet powerful tool. A brand is essentially an image that communicates important messages about the value of your company to the public. A logo can provide an easily recognizable image of your brand, but that logo—and everything you put it on—needs to send a consistent message. Consistency is the key to effective branding for longevity because it creates memories through repetition, and those memories can have a positive impact on the loyalty of your customer base.

Your brand should accurately reflect your business and the traits that set you apart. You need first to identify your message and develop a strategic plan for communicating it. Your logo is just a start. Develop your company’s “voice” and ensure it is used consistently in all written communications. This includes your website, any promotional materials, email marketing campaigns, ads, and social media posts. Just like your logo, all communications with prospective clients should be consistent across all channels. Consider taglines, tunes, and avatars. Your brand can communicate anything you want. But, by default, it can also communicate things you don’t want. A well planned brand strategy will ensure you are sending the right message across the right channels. A consistent and effective brand creates loyal followers, and those followers can help your business withstand the test of trends and time.

If you have a consistent message and express it effectively through a diverse marketing strategy, you’re off to a good start to building lasting brand equity. A strong brand image can add value to your business, your products, or services.

Brand equity has immense value, especially to your competitors. Thus, no brand strategy is worth the effort unless you take steps to protect it. Components of your brand—such as your logo and brand voice—need protection. As a piece of intellectual property, your brand is an asset that, if compromised, can negatively affect your business’s future.

To keep your brand is protected, you need to start by ensuring your brand does not violate any other company’s intellectual property protections. Run a trademark search and check state registration databases. Building a brand is an investment of both time and money, so you don’t want to have to start over and risk confusing or losing your followers. Part of this step is making sure your brand is clearly distinct from that of your competitors. The likelihood of confusion is the legal standard by which your brand will be held, so make sure your brand is clearly original.

Next, file for a copyright of your brand image. It’s easy and affordable to file a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, but specificity is the key here. A copyright prohibits copying a piece of writing, a software code, a design, or similar assets. Certain companies should consider patents too, so always consult with a lawyer for guidance on protecting your brand.

When it comes to branding, it is wise to protect the valuable image your business has created. Work with a lawyer to ensure your brand and all your intellectual property is protected. If you want to protect the brand you build, begin by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can help you protect your brand and all your intellectual property. We can also help you put valuable legal and financial protections in place to ensure your company is protected, so you can focus on growth, potential, and all the reasons why you love doing business.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule.

What to do When Your Business is Out of Bounds and Work Starts to Take Over Your Personal Life

In the digital era when you can be reached 24/7 through smartphones and social media, it can be more difficult to set firm boundaries that support your wellbeing and the productivity of your business. When you find yourself frustrated, resentful, or feeling obligated to respond to tweets, FB messages and emails at all hours of the day and night because you “have to”, it’s time to reassess and redefine your business boundaries.

The first step is to get clear about the difference between “have to” and “want to”, considering the possibility that a lot of the time you are spending responding to emails, tweets and Facebook messages during “off” hours are happening because you are choosing to do so, not because you have to do so. So, first and foremost, get clear on your motivations.

Are you responding to clients after hours because you are avoiding something in your personal life? Or, are you addicted to the high of being needed? Or maybe you just like it and it’s not something you have to do at all, but you really do want to be that available.

Next, if you really do want to create more boundaries between your work life and your personal life, it can be as simple as making the choice.

Decide to limit the hours when you respond to emails, calls, messages, and social media posts. Being connected via smartphone all day doesn’t mean you have to maintain a consistent level of responsiveness.

Set up regular business hours in which you will respond to messages, and stick to it. Enforce those hours by including them in business contracts, too. Communication is the key. When you communicate your boundaries to clients and team members, you’ll find that people are happy to respect your boundaries.

Along those lines, don’t make yourself fully available all day long. Don’t use your personal cell phone for business, and always keep your business lines and accounts separate from your personal ones. Take responsibility for when people can contact you, and send business calls to voicemail after hours. Better yet, get an assistant who can handle your phones and accounts so you can focus on running your business, not responding to messages.

And, lastly, make sure you respect the value of your time. Giving away services, indulging prospects in long consultations, and handing out free and discounted services to personal contacts all discount your value. Not only can this leave you feeling unappreciated at the end of the day, but it also sets up the expectation that you are overly generous with your time.

Time is money, as any business owner will tell you, so make sure you are being compensated fairly for your time. Again, skillfully crafted contracts can help you communicate enforce this particular boundary.

If you are unclear about the value of your time, and how to create boundaries around your time, ask us about our Money Map Life and Income planning process so we can help you with this. Protecting your time and value as an entrepreneur is important. Setting clear boundaries and knowing when to enforce them can help you keep your sanity while running a business. But to do this, you need to have measures in place to ensure those who do business with you have clear and reasonable expectations. If you want to take that step toward setting clear business boundaries, start by sitting down with us.

As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face everyday as a leader in business, including when and how to set boundaries. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemkaers, Creative Business Lawyer®. We offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, insurance, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule today!

Steps You Can Take Now to Create a Succession Plan

Many small businesses are family owned. While family owned businesses enjoy the benefit of familial solidarity, their strength is often threatened when it’s time for leadership to be passed down. Succession plans help ensure the transition from owner to owner is an easy one, but many small and family-owned businesses do not have such a plan in place.

You may think that succession planning doesn’t reap immediate benefits, and as a result overlook it as a critical component of your current business success. However, what we’ve repeatedly found is that succession planning now strengthens your business, supports it to grow now and allows for the longevity and legacy you desire.

And, the best part of succession planning is that it can allow you to chart the vision for your future, as the business owner, so that you can begin to experience the freedom you may have desired when you first started your business.

Growth

Employees brought in from outside the company (and the family) might become disappointed with the opportunities—or lack thereof—for growth. A family-owned business that cannot attract talent to take the reins and keep the company viable throughout a leadership transition is risking a lot and can keep your company from the growth you desire.

Small-business owners need to clarify each employee’s role, including its limitations. Being upfront about the room for growth from the beginning can help employees make the most of their positions and allow them also to be clear about what they want out of the role and how they want their talents to be used. Small business owners should be flexible when attracting top talent. If they are not able to provide them room for growth, they should be sure the position is worthwhile in other ways if advancement is not a possibility.

Reluctant Leadership

When a business owner starts from the ground up and sacrifices years of time and money to grow his or her business, it can be hard to let it go. Some business leaders are reluctant to retire because they have a psychological investment in the company. This can create significant barriers to succession planning before it’s too late.

Begin by creating a phased transition plan. A phased transition plan can help you to retain some involvement while incoming leaders learn the ropes. This works to break down the barriers in passing the baton. Easing out of and into new roles creates a more successful transition as the incoming leader takes time to get to know and understand how the current leader sees the future of the company.

If you are ready to create a succession plan, start by sitting down with us. As your Creative Business Lawyer®, we can guide you in making the difficult decisions you face every day as a leader in business, including when and how to hand off leadership roles. We can look out for your business’s future, so you have time and energy to focus on growth and expansion.

This article is a service of Gratia P. Schoemakers. We, at GP Schoemakers, PLLC, offer a complete spectrum of legal services for businesses and can help you make the wisest choices on how to deal with your business throughout life and in the event of your death. We also offer a LIFT Start-Up Session™ or a LIFT Audit for an ongoing business, which includes a review of all the legal, financial, and tax systems you need for your business. Call us today to schedule your private and confidential session and find out your business LIFT status.

Why DIY Estate Planning is a Bad Idea For the People You Love

America is a nation of do-it-yourselfers, but building a deck and creating a legally valid estate plan are two entirely different things – and a less-than-perfect deck won’t devastate your family’s financial future or the relationships among the people you care about most.

The prevalence of online legal services has led many people to believe that they can create legal documents cheaply and those documents will be just as effective as if they had visited an estate planning attorney.  And this is why that is wrong:

No legal advice – these sites are little more than document mills that churn out the same generic forms over and over.  They are not attorneys and cannot advise or warn you if you make a mistake. Plus, who will be there for your family when something happens to you if you’ve used an online document drafting service?

Think your family doesn’t need an advisor to support them when you are gone?  Think again.

Consider this: Erica’s father was killed in a motorcycle accident. Dad didn’t leave much behind, but he did leave an estate plan prepared by a trusted family attorney.  Had the family attorney not been there for Erica and her brother, they would have taken what dad did leave and drowned their sorrows in a European backpacking trip.  Thanks to this family attorney, though, Erica and her brother now have a healthy trust fund set up for them for life with the proceeds of a successful wrongful death case.

Leaving it to your family to know what to do after you’re gone is a big mistake for the people you love.

One size doesn’t fit all – your family is different from everyone else’s family.  Just like every state has different inheritance laws, every family has different situations.  An online form will not help you protect a special needs child or relative, or protect a child’s inheritance from creditors or a nasty divorce.  An online form cannot tell you how to protect assets from taxes or help you achieve your goals.

And, an online form cannot keep your family out of conflict during a time of grief.  Even if you don’t have a lot of assets you are leaving behind, whatever you do have will be subject to distribution between the people you care most about.  Some of the biggest disagreements we’ve seen after death, aren’t about loads of money, but about the little things and those little things aren’t going to be dealt with well with form documents.

Save now, pay later – you may think you are saving money by using an online service to create your will or trust, but it is impossible to make a fair comparison since the services provided are entirely different.

An estate planning attorney creates an entire plan tailored to your individual needs in a legal document that will stand up in court, and advises you on ways to cut taxes and save for retirement and long-term care.  No online service does that.

In addition, your trusted advisor is going to be there for your family when you cannot be. The people you love will need someone to turn to after you are gone.  Do you want them to be stuck with figuring out who that should be during their time of grief? Or do you want to leave behind the gift of having taken care of things well during your lifetime and a trusted advisor to hold their hand when you no longer can?

We invite you to take advantage of our specialized legal services for families with a Family Wealth Planning Session.  Call our office today to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk about designing an estate plan that fits the needs of you and your family.

Go to Walmart for Bananas, Not Estate Planning

Did you know that the best-selling item at Walmart is bananas?  It’s true, and has been for several years.  So the next time you need a great price on your favorite yellow fruit, go ahead and head for Walmart.

But steer clear of the world’s largest retailer when you need a will or other estate planning documents.

While not available in the U.S. (yet), Walmart has been selling wills for $99 in several Canadian locations.  You can also get powers of attorney at the boutique law shop called Axess Law set up in Walmart.  And in our opinion, that’s not just bananas, it’s nuts too.

Creating an estate plan is something you do to leave a legacy of care and love for the people who matter to you the most.   Working with an attorney who understands your goals and wishes for your family, and can articulate those in a well-crafted estate plan, is a much better alternative than relying on a one-stop shopping experience, be it at Walmart or through online legal websites with standard forms that can’t begin to know what you truly want and deserve for your loved ones.

Having the caring guidance of a Personal Family Lawyer® will ensure that your estate plan takes advantage of the ever-changing state and federal laws as well as reduces the potential for family feuds.

If you’re the parent of minor children, your attorney will help you create a valid will (and if you work with a Personal Family Lawyer®, a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan®) that ensures the well-being and care of your children; without one, a judge will make that decision for you (or your kids could even be taken from your home temporarily).

Even if you don’t have minor or dependent children, you have stuff that will have to be handled after you are gone and a $99 will is likely only going to make it worse for the people left to clean up the mess.

Estate laws vary by state, which is another good reason to have a Personal Family Lawyer® guide you.  The probate process can be lengthy and arduous; your attorney can help you and your family stay out of Court, saving time, money and stress.

Finally, many life circumstances – remarriage, divorce, new children – impact your estate plan, so be sure you review it annually and keep it updated when things change.  Having a Personal Family Lawyer® who knows you and your family makes it much easier to keep your plan on track, so it will always be just what your family needs, when they need it.

If you would like more information about creating or updating your estate plan, call our office today at 832.408.0505 to schedule a time for us to sit down and talk and find out how to best protect your family.

Why You Should Get Estate Planning Off Your To-Do List

There are many goals most of us want to accomplish in life, and some of the most important ones center on family and money. Here is what a thoughtful estate plan can help you accomplish that involves both:

Control health care decisions. Most people will die in a hospital or care facility, and many will lack important decision-making capacity for their own care. You can name the people responsible for health care decisions if this should happen to you through an advance medical directive as part of your estate plan.

Control your finances. By assigning a durable power of attorney in your estate plan, you can save your family from the expense and emotional trauma of having to go to court to take control of your finances via a conservatorship in case you become incapacitated.

Plan for your long-term care. Most of us will require long-term care at some time during our lives, and it can be expensive – even financially devastating for many families. An estate plan will help you take the necessary steps to plan for your long-term care so it doesn’t fall to your family.

Keep peace in the family. By determining where your assets will go and having the right beneficiaries named on retirement and bank accounts, you will help ensure family harmony and fend off any potential inheritance fights.

The process of estate planning is ripe for procrastination since so few people understand it or – more commonly – wish to contemplate their own demise. Yet it still remains one of the best things you can do to protect your money, your health and your family.

Here are 3 tips to get estate planning off your “to-do” list:

Consider your children. Estate planning helps you protect your children throughout their lifetimes. When they are young, you need to appoint a guardian if something should happen to you. When they are older, you want to have the financial capacity to send them to college. When you are gone, you want them to enjoy a legacy that includes passing on your values as well as your assets.  Only estate planning can do this for you.

Review beneficiary designations. Life insurance policies, retirement accounts, investment accounts and other financial vehicles all require you to complete a beneficiary form to designate who will receive the assets upon your death. With no form, state law will govern, and your assets may go to those you never intended to receive them, or worse, go to your estate and be depleted by taxation. Be sure you have beneficiary forms on file for your accounts and that they are reviewed at least annually for any necessary updates.

Consider your own health. If you become incapacitated, who will be making your health care decisions for you? Do you want your life to be prolonged via life support no matter what? Whatever your wishes are for your own health, they won’t necessarily be followed unless you have executed a Living Will or assigned powers of attorney to see to these matters.

Make this the year you create your estate plan – or, if you have a plan that hasn’t been reviewed in the last two years, to update your estate plan. It’s a gift that will keep giving to you and your family.

The best way to learn about estate planning for your family is to meet with us for a Family Wealth Planning Session, where we can identify the best strategies for you to provide for and protect the financial security of your loved ones. Don’t wait! Give us a call today at 832.408.0505, we love to hear from you.

 

Is Your Family “Too Young” to Need an Estate Plan?

Young families face different estate planning needs and challenges than those who have had a long life behind them. While established families may be concerned about what will happen to their family when they pass on, young, growing families can be more focused on what is happening to their family in the present. And you even may find it hard to justify planning for an “estate” you haven’t yet established!

But here’s the thing … if you have children or anyone else you care about, you may not have an “estate”, but you do need estate planning if you want to ensure your loved ones wouldn’t be stuck in Court and/or conflict, if anything happens to you.

Here are a few estate-planning issues important for young couples to consider as soon as they start a family:

The Care and Custody of Your Children

If you die or become incapacitated before your children reach 18, they will need a legal guardian. To ensure your children are only ever in the care of people you want and choose, you need to name both temporary and long-term guardians for your children.

Identifying friends or family as the “godparent” of your child isn’t enough. You need to legally document your choice. And, naming just one person or a couple won’t cover it either. Name at least 3 options, in case back-ups are needed.

Also, ensure that you have not just named legal guardians in your Will, for the long-term.

If something happens to you and your child is home with a babysitter, or at school, you want to also name local people, friends or family, who would immediately be able to be called upon by authorities. And, those people need to have legal documentation on hand to step in and make immediate, short-term decisions for your littles.

We recommend a comprehensive Kids Protection Plan® to ensure there are no gaps, for even a minute, in the care of the people you love most.

The Management of Your Children’s Inheritance

Remember, when you die, the assets left to your minor children will need to be managed by someone at least until they turn eighteen. If no one is identified for this task, the court steps in and appoints “professionals” to take over the role, which can cost your children their entire inheritance.

And, it’s totally unnecessary. With just a bit of prior planning, you can keep your loved ones out of the Court system entirely and give total control to the people you know, love and trust.

The Authority to Make Decisions for You

Finally, no matter what your age is, or how big or small your assets are, you want to put in place the documentation that appoints the people you would want making decisions for you if you cannot make your own decisions.

Once again, the focus here is on keeping the people you love out of Court during what would be a hugely stressful time for them.

Estate planning is a key part of growing up, and showing up for the people you love. So, yes, you may be a young family, but once you’ve become a family, you’re not too young to plan well to make things as easy as possible for the people you love.

As your Personal Family Lawyer®, we will help you make the very best financial and legal decisions throughout your life, and for the beyond.  Far from being a morbid task, estate planning can give your young family the peace of mind, confidence, and security you desire when it comes to the future well-being of all members of your family.

We, at GP Schoemakers, PLLC, don’t just draft documents, we ensure you make informed and empowered decisions about life and death, for yourself and the people you love.  That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session,™ during which you will get more financially organized than you’ve ever been before, and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session to find out how to protect your family.