Category Archives: simple Will

18-Year-Olds Need Estate Plans, Too

Every adult needs at least a few basic legal documents to provide for her own medical and financial affairs.

Once a person turns 18 years old he becomes a legal adult. This matters from an estate planning perspective because:

  • Parents or legal guardians lose their right of access to information about that young adult.
  • The young adult loses the automatic right of the parents or legal guardians to advocate on his behalf.
  • If the young adult needs assistance with medical care or financial advocacy, such as in the event of an emergency, the parent or legal guardian will be unable to do so without legal authorization.

That’s why every young adult needs at least a very basic estate plan. With proper legal authorization, parents and legal guardians can continue to support and advocate for their children and gain access to their medical, financial, and digital information.

A basic estate plan preserves good relationships between different family members who may not agree with one another about the young adult’s stated wishes.

Every young adult should have at least some basic legal documents that provide the adults of her choosing the authority to:

  • Manage her financial affairs such as paying bills, requesting statement copies, and renegotiating contract or lease terms when she just wants helps and in case of an emergency;
  • Access her online banking and other electronic, financial accounts;
  • Access her protected health information;
  • Consent to or refuse medical treatments and procedures if she cannot do so herself;
  • Serve as her spokesperson regarding her end of life wishes;
  • Consent to donating her organs;
  • Arrange for her cremation or burial;
  • Organize the details of her memorial service according to her preferences;
  • Post notices to and/or memorialize, download copies of, or close out her social media accounts;
  • Specify who should receive certain sentimental pieces of personal property, like jewelry, collections or mementos.


“it’s not about what you have, it’s about how much you care"


Attorney Danielle G. Van Ess of the family-friendly, Hingham, Massachusetts law firm DGVE law, LLC wants to help you “protect your family, yourself, and your stuff.” She explains, “it’s not about what you have, it’s about how much you care. You care about who makes your medical decisions for you. You care who takes care of your children. You care about preserving whatever you have to use throughout your lifetime. You care about what you leave behind to whom, how, and when.”
If your children are minors you worry about who would raise them into adulthood. If your child just became a legal adult, you worry that, without his or her own basic estate plan in place, you lack access to financial and medical information to help him or her. If you have a child with special needs you worry about who would know everything you do about your child and how to ensure your child’s needs are always well met. If you have an adult child with a history of less than stellar financial management skills, addiction, gambling, or who may be divorcing, you worry about lost assets.
 More people are sued than ever today. We know most doctors will be sued sometime in their careers, but increasingly so will financial, accounting, real estate, and IT professionals. Car accidents, slip-and-falls, and accidents involving other people’s children are all real threats. The time to protect your assets from possible lawsuits is before you think you might be sued, before it is too late, and the way you try to protect your assets determines your likelihood of prevailing. Some DIY efforts, such as titling assets in your spouse’s name or establishing a family LLC or LLP without ensuring it owns the assets nor maintaining required formalities just provide false confidence and will likely fail to provide asset protection.
You may worry about how to pass significant resources to your loved ones without causing unintended consequences such as disrupting family harmony. Your estate planning attorney can help you design a plan so each family member can enjoy your cherished vacation home without disagreements far into the future. If you have always been charitably inclined, you can plan to support charities dear to your heart while also ensuring your loved ones are well provisioned. If you have a trusted financial advisor and CPA, your lawyer can and should work together with them as a team on your behalf to help you make your dreams for the future come true. Or you may worry about having sufficient resources to support yourself through retirement, possible long term medical expenses, remaining in your home as long as possible, and preserving your hard-earned resources for your loved ones. While you may not feel like you have enough to worry about estate taxes, you just might and perhaps ironically the less you have the more important it may be to preserve it to protect those you love.
Despite all these important reasons to meet with an experienced estate planning lawyer to learn how the law views your family or financial circumstances, whether your current plan is likely to achieve your goals, and what your options really are, most Americans mistakenly believe they do not need even a simple Will. Far too many Americans have stale, old estate plans that no longer reflect their current personal circumstances, especially given recent sweeping changes in the law.
In 2008 Congress passed a resolution proclaiming the third week of every October as National Estate Planning Awareness Week noting, “Many Americans are unaware that a lack of estate planning and financial illiteracy may cause their assets to be disposed of to unintended parties by default through the complex process of probate.” With a comprehensive estate plan and financial roadmap for success, Van Ess says, “you can control your own assets during your lifetime, designate the people you want to care for you and provide for your loved ones if you’re ever incapacitated, and make sure that after your death you leave what you want to whomever you want how and when you want, all while ensuring there are more assets left rather than wasted on unnecessary expenses.”
Because there is so much more to an estate plan than just filling in forms, you need to find a qualified lawyer to assist you. Van Ess is passionate about educating and empowering her clients. Says Van Ess, “Just as we as patients seek the right bedside manner in our doctors, we need to find the right deskside manner in our lawyers. Once we find that lawyer we can say with confidence ‘I want to talk with my lawyer’ and it takes away so much unnecessary worry, replacing it with true peace of mind and comfort of heart.”
DGVE law Hingham MA lawyer Danielle G. Van Ess.jpg
About Attorney Danielle G. Van Ess and DGVE law®
Raised on the North Shore in Swampscott, Massachusetts, Van Ess graduated with honors from the George Washington University in Washington, DC then met her husband, Chad Van Ess, Senior Counsel for the Acushnet Company, comprised of the Titleist and Footjoy golf brands, in 1998 as classmates at Boston University School of Law. Danielle “got her passport stamped” and moved with Chad to Hingham on the South Shore in 2006 where they laid down firm roots and are raising their four daughters, ages 1 through 9. Danielle established her law firm, DGVE law, LLC in their family home on East Street on September 1, 2008. For over six years now DGVE law® has been proudly “helping people add to, protect, and move their families”® by providing high quality professional legal services in the areas of adoption, estate planning, and residential real estate. For the right, truly passionate entrepreneurs, DGVE law® is also “helping you build, grow, and nurture your business.”
For more information, please visit: or call: 781-740-0848.

“We don’t really have much; we just need simple Wills.”

A (30-something-year-old) couple (with two young children) thinks most lawyers are crooks out to make a buck at the expense of their unwitting clients. They do a little research online and see what Wills are going for these days. Then they call a couple lawyers, price shopping around explaining, “We don’t really have much; we just need simple Wills.”

Lawyer A, who “does a little of everything,” is happy to “do their Wills” for them for a flat rate fee of $800 and will even generously throw in a Power of Attorney and Living Will, for no additional charge.

Lawyer B offers to do their estate plan, billing at the hourly rate of $250 from start to finish, but cannot give an estimate as to what the fees might total before an initial consultation and information-gathering.

Lawyer C offers to meet with them, via telephone conference or in person, to get a sense of what concerns they have that they want to address with a Will, what their personal family circumstances are, and an overview of their financial situation.

Please leave a comment casting your vote here for which lawyer the couple should hire and I will finish the story as you write it. . .

The Story of the Self-Diagnosing Dental Patient

A guy thinks dentists are con artists who tell you need a lot of dental work you really don’t and even though he has pretty decent insurance, it still won’t pay for much. So he goes in for his six-month cleaning and when they tell him it’s time for x-rays he agrees. When the dentist does an exam and looks at the x-rays she says, “The old filling on this tooth is cracked and decay has set in underneath. Because it’s such a large filling in the first place, we will need to do a crown instead to avoid cracking the tooth.” The guy, who was skeptical at the outset and knows that a filling will be covered by insurance but a crown will cost him hundreds out of pocket, replies, “No, I don’t need anything so fancy and complicated. I just need a simple cleaning. I’m not in any pain or experiencing any sensitivity. Thanks.” So the dentist reiterates her concerns and issues her cautions, but allows the patient to decide his own course of care and leave after a simple cleaning. The guy leaves feeling satisfied that he has paid nothing out of pocket and not been “taken for a ride” for something over and above the level of professional service he needed.

Cut ahead five and a half months later. It’s Saturday night on Labor Day weekend. The guy is at a BBQ and snacking on something when he feels his tooth crack. The tooth had thoroughly decayed and because it was left untreated, spread. Now the guy needs an emergency root canal. He is reluctant to admit it, but wishes he had listened to his dentist when she advised him to replace the old filling and repair the tooth with a new crown to avoid just this sort of result.

What would you choose if your dentist advised you to get a crown under these circumstances? Would you opt for a simple cleaning and wait and see or would you proceed with the treatment, deferring to her professional judgment and expertise? Would it change the equation for you if it were your children’s teeth rather than your own? Stay tuned for the next post where you can choose your own adventure story about a couple that tells their lawyer, “We just need a simple Will.”

*Thank you to Dr. Anderson & his wonderful staff (especially Alicia, Elaine, and Christine) for reviewing this dental fable for me! Dr. Jeffrey M. Anderson, DDS PC