2020 has been a rough year, and if you are anything like us, you are glad that it is quickly drawing to a close. We are usually all about the new year’s resolutions, but given everything this past year has thrown at us, we are resolved not to make resolutions for this new year. Instead, we are looking at things we can do for ourselves to make life a little bit easier this next year. With our desire to put resolutions behind us, we would like to share some tips and suggestions (not resolutions) based upon what we’ve learned as family law and estate planning attorneys that might help make this new year easier for you.
Family law: our suggestions for setting yourself up for success in 2021 related to your family law case can be summed up by encouraging you to give yourself and those in your life extra grace.
1. Your feelings and experiences in your relationship are valid. Devote your energy to healing and moving forward.
No one, not you, your attorney, or the judge, can change the past. You deserve the support and space for healing. One hugely important aspect of facilitating healing regarding your family case is to focus on moving the case forward. That doesn’t minimize any pain or heartache you’ve experienced. It does empower you with being present for what is best for your family now and being an active part of moving forward.
2. The best orders are those made in agreement by parents and parties.
We recognize that there are cases where mediation and reaching agreements is not possible. Those are not the majority of cases. You know your children best, not your judge, and no matter how hard we try, not your attorney. Putting aside any animosity for your ex-spouse or the other parent can create the space for you to focus on the wonder your children are and identify what is in their best interests. Children are more likely to thrive through a divorce when the parents can recognize and honor what is best for their children with the visitation arrangement and ensure that their children know they have access to both parents who love them. This doesn’t require you to be best friends with the other parent, only that you present a loving and supportive front that centers your child(ren).
3. Ask for help.
If you reflect over this past year and no longer want to continue your marriage, that’s ok! There is nothing wrong with recognizing personal growth or that you want a change. You do not need to feel alone, or like you are making this decision without support. It is appropriate and completely fine to talk with a counselor or therapist and consult with an attorney as you contemplate this decision. You are not alone.
Estate Planning, simply stated, there is no time like the present to plan for the future.
One thing 2020 has reinforced is that we cannot predict what tomorrow will bring. Fear and anxiety are rampant right now about what the future holds. There is no time like the present to plan for the unknowns of the future. Estate planners have learned and adapted this year to provide services to individuals even during this pandemic. We would encourage you to review the list below and consider where you land, and to take action to create a plan for you and your family.
If you do not have an existing estate plan, reach out for a consultation if any of the following are true:
1. You have children under the age of 18
2. You own real property
3. You have assets with a value of over $150,000 (not including debts)
If you do have an existing plan, now is the time to have it reviewed.
1. If you made your estate plan within the past year to three years, contact your drafting attorney to ask if proposition 19 impacts you.
2. If your estate plan is two years or older, it is vital to take an inventory of your assets and life.
a. Has anything in your life changed?
b. Have you had children?
c. Have you sold any assets or purchased any new assets?
3. In addition to the self-reflection that might necessitate an estate plan update, changes in the law can also require an update to an estate plan.
The best way to determine if legislative changes would prompt an amendment to your estate plan is by contacting an attorney for a review consultation.
Estate planning does not need to be time-intensive or intimidating. It is an estate planner’s job to guide you through this process and complete the heavy lifting for you. We are living through chaotic and uncertain times. Having a plan in place for the future can help alleviate some of those stresses and provide comfort with the knowledge that you are providing for your family, and your wishes are clear.