Flying to The Netherlands

For 10 days my family and I recently took a vacation to the Netherlands to visit my wife’s relatives (from a previous post you may recall that she is Dutch). We had some apprehension about flying 8 hours with our three children, ages 7, 4 and 2! Despite our fears, the flights were uneventful. We even got to jump to the front of the security check-point lines because we were traveling with children.

The time we spent in the Netherlands was wonderful. It was great to visit my wife’s Mom, sister, and extended family. Our children (especially the 7 year old) had a fun time pointing out all of the differences between the Netherlands and the United States. One of the differences that he liked the most was the fact that they have traffic lights just for bicycles.

As I prepared for our vacation, I thought of how flying on an airplane often motivates clients to prepare Wills and other estate planning documents. Of course, statistically speaking, you are much more likely to die in a car crash on the way home from work then you are in a plane crash (1 in 5,000 vs. 1 in 11,000,000)! So why does flying motivate people? Researchers in psychology have found that when we have control (like when we’re driving) we’re less afraid, and when we don’t have control (like when we’re flying) we’re more afraid.

Fear can motivate people to act, but it can also keep people from taking action. The estate planning process can seem like an intimidating process. By allowing David and I to walk you through the process, you are actually taking control of your future and the future of your loved ones. When you finish the process and have that control, the relief you feel will be immense. You will no longer have a fear of what happens when I die or become disabled. You will have a plan in place that achieves your goals and gives you true peace of mind.

Losing a Loved One: Why hire an attorney? 5 reasons

After losing a loved one, sometimes the question is, “Do I need to hire an attorney?” But maybe a better question to ask is, “Should I?” How would you benefit, as an executor or trustee, by hiring an attorney? How would your family benefit? Here are some reasons to hire an attorney to assist with the legal and financial details after a loved one’s passing.

1. To get your thoughts together. Sometimes just getting started is overwhelming. Maybe one meeting with the attorney will help set you off in the right direction.

2. You need legal help. Sometimes there needs to be court action through probate or addressing a legal dispute. In these cases, you do need an attorney, unless you want to wade into the legal system on your own.

3. To reduce your stress. When someone passes, there is business to take care of. I just mean personal business, the kind we all deal with in our lives. Paying bills, getting income, investing money, filing tax returns, etc. Some of these you could take care of on your own. But sometimes you may want to delegate them. At Edwards Group, we deal everyday with banks, investments, life insurance companies, and real estate questions. We know how to maneuver through all the asset transfers. We understand what those companies need, how their forms need to be filled out, how to get past a difficult customer service representative. Maybe you want to delegate some of that to us.

4. To get the job done right. Many people own annuities and IRA’s. Those are potential potholes for the family. Many times we have seen a family try to handle an estate on their own, only to pay tens of thousands of dollars in extra income tax that could have been avoided or delayed with some good legal advice. That’s just one example. In many families, the attorney’s fee will pay for itself in avoided legal, financial, or tax mess ups that could haunt you later. In addition, if you are the executor or trustee and you mess up something, the liability could come back on you later to repay the lost funds.

5. To reduce conflict. Even the closest families will have a potential for conflict after losing a loved one. The grieving combined with the stress in an unknown situation often results in siblings butting heads. In those cases, an attorney who can help guide the process and talk straight to a family member with unreasonable expectations is a big help.

If you have lost a loved one, please contact our Client Coordinator at 217-726-9200 or at to discuss your situation and see how we can help your family.

To read more about what to do after the death of a loved one, click here.

You’ve lost a loved one – now do you need a lawyer or not?

Do you need a lawyer to help you after you’ve lost a loved one?  Well, it depends.  Do you know what needs to be done?  Are you having any problems transferring assets?

If everything is in joint tenancy – meaning the survivor becomes the owner if the first spouse dies – then you probably do not need a lawyer.  Just take the death certificate to the banks or other financial institutions and they will change the account to show only one owner.

Were there assets owned solely in the name of the deceased?  If so, you will be faced with the legal task of transferring them.  Depending on the situation, that transfer will require, at the least, a small estate affidavit, or possibly a court probate to name an executor and oversee the transfer or the asset and the distributions to the heirs.

Still not sure if you need to hire an attorney? Check out our post “Losing a Loved One: Why Hire an Attorney? 5 Reasons” and as always, feel free to give us a call at (217) 726-9200.