As the need for affordable legal services becomes even more critical today, opting for group legal insurance offered through your workplace benefits is expected. These group insurance plans provide free legal assistance for various law firms contracted with the insurance company to provide the legal work. Can you rely on legal insurance to protect your family?
While group legal insurance might seem easy to save on your family's legal needs, it's often inadequate for creating the kind of estate plan you need to protect your assets, choices, and loved ones. In fact - the type of estate plan, will, or trust created if you rely on legal insurance programs could leave your family with a big mess.
Here are the reasons why estate planning for your family demands a heart-centered, counseling-oriented approach and guidance beyond the scope of your group legal insurance coverage. I'll help you understand the potential pitfalls of using group legal insurance for estate planning and share suitable alternatives to ensure your assets are adequately protected and that your loved ones are left with a legacy of love and not a big mess.
One Size Doesn't Fit All
When it comes to estate planning, if you have people you love and assets you care about, no one-size-fits-all plan works for you and your family. While there are almost always at least, and sometimes four critical documents in a standard estate plan–a will, trust, health care directive, and power of attorney–there are additional pieces of planning that are pretty important for your family, depending on the specifics of your family dynamics and the nature of your assets, to ensure that your plan actually will work when your family needs it. Not to mention the content of these four documents must be specifically tailored to meet your family's unique needs.
Each person and each family has unique circumstances that require custom planning to ensure their plan works how you want it to. Your financial, medical, and personal needs must be considered to craft a comprehensive plan that will serve you now and pass on your assets in the best way after you're gone, all while ensuring the best use of your resources during your life.
Your group legal insurance plan may have the four key documents of an estate plan, but a generic set of planning documents is unlikely to work for you the way you want and will almost certainly guarantee your family will end up lost and confused when something happens to you. Your family needs the support of the plan you created to guide them.
To create a plan that will genuinely work for you and your family, your planning process needs to begin with evaluating your assets and family dynamics. Your attorney must educate you about applying the law to your situation. This is why we don't have a one-size fits all solution, but instead begin our planning with you looking holistically at everything you have, everyone you love, and what you desire for the people you love.
The type of cookie-cutter estate plan you are likely to receive if you rely on your group legal insurance simply won't include the kind of comprehensive considerations and counseling necessary to deliver a plan that will serve you and your loved ones in the way you would want while keeping your family out of court and conflict.
Legal Insurance Nickel and Dimes
Many group legal insurance plans boast free legal services after your deductible is paid, but what isn't revealed is the limit of the coverage that's covered for free.
Only certain types of legal services are covered under group legal insurance plans. Estate planning is frequently covered, but the kind of plan you will receive is a mere set of documents, similar to what you could create yourself online, and not a customized, well-counseled plan that will be sure to work when your family needs it.
Plus, some items essential to creating your plan, like notary stamps or fees to file documents with the state, are not included in the covered service and are instead charged to you as an extra expense.
More importantly, most legal insurance plans limit the number of claims you can file for each type of service each year. For example, you may only be covered to create a Will once a year but won't be covered if you need to update your estate plan mid-year if circumstances change or someone dies. Estate planning isn't something you do once, as your life will change, your assets will change, and the law will change. If you rely on a legal insurance covered plan, it will not keep up with those changes. You may receive documents, but those documents aren't likely what your family needs when something happens to you.
You Need a Heart-Centered, Counseling-Based Planning Approach
Creating an estate plan isn't just about a Will or a Trust or passing on your money after you've died. It's about making wise decisions about using your resources throughout your life, leaving your assets in a way that creates a legacy, not a mess, and creating the best reality for yourself and your loved ones.
As your dedicated Personal Family Lawyer®, I take a holistic approach to serve you by working closely with you and your family to understand what matters to you, your family's dynamics and values, and your aspirations for your family. Then, I review and consider all your assets, including the intangible assets often left out of planning. Then, together, we create a truly personalized plan that takes into account every aspect of your family's well-being for the near and long-term
Moreover, your and your family's needs will change over time. You'll buy new assets and sell others. You may have another child or become a grandparent. Your son may start a business, or your sister may develop a disability.
That's why it's crucial to coordinate your estate plan with the circumstances of your loved ones so that your wishes are honored, and your assets are protected no matter how their situation changes over time.
To do this, I look at how your wishes and the circumstances of your loved ones intersect and can provide you with personalized guidance at any stage in life's journey.
In addition, our planning process includes creating an inventory of all of your assets, and we review your entire plan, including all of your decisions and your asset inventory, for free every three years to make sure the plan we created for you will continue to serve you and your family in the way you intended. By doing this, we can identify any areas of your plan that need to be changed and any new assets that need to be coordinated into your plan.
Legal Insurance Plans Lack Long-Term Considerations
Estate Planning is a journey that spans a lifetime. Your estate plan must adapt as your finances, needs, and wishes evolve. If you rely solely on group legal insurance won't provide the ongoing support and guidance needed to address changing circumstances over the years.
Under group legal insurance, your choice of attorneys is limited to the firms that have contracts with the insurance company, and there is no guarantee that the attorney you worked with this year will be available to help with changes to your plan next year.
Your children will grow into adults. That means you'll lose your ability to decide for them unless you update your estate plan to nominate a Permanent Guardian or Power of Attorney. We can help with that.
You may wish to leave your house to your daughter, but you worry about the longevity of her marriage. We will help you look at these considerations as part of our planning with you now and as they come up in the following years.
Time-sensitive changes to your plan that are needed due to a sudden emergency or death in the family may be impossible to carry out when using an attorney through group legal insurance. Instead, you want to work with an experienced Austin estate planning attorney who knows your family's story and can pick up right where you left off, allowing them to quickly and effectively address any needed changes to your plan with just a phone call.
Trusted Expertise in Estate Planning
While group legal insurance may seem like the ultimate way to protect your loved one's future legal needs and your family's wallet, sadly, the services available through these group insurance plans simply aren't comprehensive enough to ensure you and your family get the support and guidance they need, and deserve.
Instead, working with an experienced estate planning attorney who gets to know your family personally and can guide you every step of the way is crucial.
Your estate planning journey deserves personalized attention, compassionate understanding, and unwavering dedication. That's why I have dedicated my practice to using a form of estate planning we call Life & Legacy Planning, allowing me to guide you skillfully through the decision-making process while looking ahead to avoid issues in the future proactively.
If you want to make sure your loved ones are always cared for no matter what the future holds, book a phone call with me, and I'll share all the details of our Family Wealth Planning Session, which kicks off our Life & Legacy Planning process.
(By Appointment Only)
14425 Falcon Head Blvd
Austin, TX 78738