Thursday, September 22, 2022

Money Matters: Estate Planning for Your Kids' Future


Even a modest amount of family wealth can make a big difference for young people looking to acquire an education, purchase a first house, or start a business, Portia says. I had a chance to interview her, and she explains how and why families should take steps to build, protect, and pass down more of their hard-earned wealth.

“Why estate planning is important for every family, not just the wealthy.”


“Every family needs a plan because everybody goes to work. Everybody has assets such as a bank account and a retirement account. Perhaps they've got a car and other things that they need to protect. If they don't have a plan in place for that, then they can lose it to the state. Essentially their family can end up in a long, protracted probate process. They can end up with extraordinary attorney and court fees that they would not have otherwise had with a proper plan. Plus, there is the issue of beneficiaries not having enough financial literacy to truly be able to manage the assets that they're given.”


What role do trusts play in estate planning?


“Trusts are important because they give the power back to the family. They are private and they are unique. They allow individual families to make decisions for themselves and truly craft a plan based on their people and things that they want — the people that they love, the things that they want them to have, and how they want them to have them, without the need for government and court interference. This is very different from a will or other estate planning documents.”


What are some estate planning documents that every family should have?


“Financial Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, and HIPAA Power of Attorney are the keystones of even the most basic estate plan. A Power of Attorney is a document by which you appoint someone as your ‘Agent’ to act on your behalf if you are unable to. If your appointed Agent is unwilling or unable to act, the document can appoint one or more successor Agents. A Financial Power of Attorney appoints an Agent to make financial decisions for you in the event you are unable to. A Health Care Power of Attorney appoints an Agent to make health care decisions for you. HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Authorization Act of 1996, which brought about many things, including enhanced privacy in your health records. While HIPAA protections are a great addition to the law, they can thwart people who have a legitimate need to access your records, unless you give them the appropriate authorization. A HIPAA Power, otherwise known as a HIPAA Authorization, allows designated people to access your protected health information. Without this access, others may not even know that you were brought to the hospital, are in the intensive care unit, or your condition and needs. Typically, you’d grant this access to your Agents under your Health Care Power of Attorney and your Financial Power of Attorney.”

“Our children are our best legacies,” Portia says. “Let us help you protect your family for generations to come.”


About: Portia M. Wood, Esq., is a generational wealth planning attorney. Based in Los Angeles, she leads Wood Legal Group, LLP, an African American woman-owned and operated law firm specializing in estate planning, probate, and elder law that she runs with her mother and law partner, Robin Wood. They are passionately focused on helping all families grow and protect wealth by being a trusted resource for accurate information and comprehensive, culturally competent estate planning. Learn more at

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