Each week, we’ve been speaking with experts that dedicate their lives to helping to keep children safe. This time, we sat down for an interview with Jennifer Gomez. She’s an attorney who believes in preventative planning… and in poodles!
Get to Know Jennifer Gomez
As you’ll learn in the video, Jennifer is a Florida native who is currently admitted to practice in both Florida and New York. She assists clients on all matters related to estate planning, including wills and trusts, charitable planning, retirement planning, elder care, asset protection, tax planning, and business planning.
Across her career, Gomez has devoted her life to helping people protect what matters most to them. She believes in giving individuals and families peace of mind through preventative planning.
As a Florida native residing in Palm Beach County, she has given back to the community through organizations such as Legal Aid, Saint Joseph’s Episcopal Church, Tomorrow’s Rainbow and the Palm Beach International Film Festival. Ms. Gomez frequently lectures on important legal topics for educational and civic organizations. Additionally, she is a foster caregiver with Coastal Poodle Rescue and owns an 8-year old deaf Great Dane.
You can reach Jennifer via her website: jennifergomez.com
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with Eric, Jennifer! Your efforts make the world a better and safer place for both children and adults!
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Below is a Direct Transcript of the Child Safety Resource Interview with Jennifer Gomez, uploaded on Monday, 7/9:
Eric: Hey, how’s it going?
Jennifer: And how are you?
Eric: Fantastic. So I’ve known Jen a long, long time. How long have I known you?
Jennifer: Probably 15 plus years.
Eric: So how old am I? I’m 36. That’d make me 21, that sounds about right. And that would make you under age 15 years ago?
Jennifer: Yes exactly.
Eric: And since that, oh you got it, perfect.
Jennifer: I got it. We are live.
Eric: Yes, we are alive. That’s very, that’s us and us and a very small phone. Since you were at my house you became a Lawyer. I like knowing how much the delay is though. I appreciate that.
Jennifer: I’m just trying to fit that with that volume.
Eric: You’re fine.
Jennifer: In questions.
Eric: You’re right, perfect. There you go, awesome.
If anybody asks anything, it happens occasionally.
Eric: Every now and again.
Jennifer: You know,
Jennifer: People trying to get the free legal advice, I usually get lots of questions.
Eric: That works. You know, you think we had a doctor on a couple days ago – not as many questions as I was expecting; some a handful.
Jennifer: Yeah, no one sent in a photo of like a weird rash.
Eric: Just two, but not nearly as many as I thought, you know. I thought we’d have like loads of people like wanting the free medical advice, like the free law advice that we have.
Eric: You know, the expensive knowledge contained in the person.
Eric: Why did you decide to go law school?
Jennifer: I decided to go to law school because I wanted to do more of the preventative side of the law. So either contracts or state planning which is what I ended up doing. So that I was helping avoid the lawsuits and the fighting and the drama that happens later. So I help people take proactive steps now so that they don’t end up in that kind of a situation later.
Eric: Gotcha. What about estate planning? Because that doesn’t seem him like the most exciting Jennifer Gomez field to go into.
Jennifer: Yeah I hear that a lot especially from other Attorneys that it’s kind of be boring area of law to be in.
Eric: And I figured you’d do what music law. But you know you kind of go with what your mom was doing.
Jennifer: Family Business?
Jennifer: And I definitely did a little bit Entertainment law but I was working at firms that did state planning and I enjoyed working with families more so than businesses. You get more of a close personal connection with the clients and I like that.
Eric: Nice, how long have you been doing it?
Jennifer: I have been practicing 8 years but I have been working in law firms as a Law Clerk, Legal Assistant now for probably like 15 years.
Eric: That’s insane. yeah because you went away and you came back, it just seems like it wasn’t that long ago that you were not doing this and we were hanging out. It’s bizarre.
Jennifer: Yeah, time flies.
Eric: It does, very much so.
Jennifer: The older you get the faster it goes.
Eric: Yeah, because it’s a percentage.
Jennifer: Exactly, yeah.
Eric: Yeah, the one year when you’re 50 is 2 percent of your life but when you’re 3 it’s a third of your entire existence. It’s a much bigger deal. I still do Pool Fence; not much has changed.
Jennifer: Consistency is good.
Eric: Yeah, I like to do one particular thing. So obviously the idea is to connect it to the child safety. So you know, when you contacted me you had some ideas about why it made sense to talk about the state planning and references how you can help your kids. So I watch people who have young kids you know, set up something with you.
Jennifer: Yes. So as far as estate planning in general what I help people with is making plans so that things will function smoothly either at their incapacity or at their death. Incapacity meaning a period of time where someone is not able to make their own health or financial decisions through some kind of disability or stroke or coma or anything like that.
For parents, it’s particularly important because any good parent is their child’s biggest protector, biggest advocate. So if their parents aren’t able to act on their behalf then what happens. And so I hope parents put together the plans that covered that. So we help them decide who the guardians for their children would be if the parents are no longer around. We help them decide who would manage the financial assets for the children and basically give all the babysitter instructions that you would want to put in place but they’re legally binding and have you know some additional protections within that.
Eric: Gotcha. So what’s the worst case scenario? Say someone doesn’t do anything and something terrible happens as they pass away. They’ve got two little kids. You know, what’s the result of that?
Jennifer: So ideally you never find yourself in that kind of a scenario. But if both of a child’s parents have passed away and then it’s really up to the courts to determine what’s in the best interest of the child. And they do of course make the best effort that they can to make sure that the kids are going to be safe and things are going to be organized. But it’s a lot harder for a judge who’s never met your family before to decide who should be in charge of caring for your child and how should things be set up versus the parent deciding for their own child when they know everything about everyone in the family. The parents really just in such a better position for that.
So Florida has default rules for when someone dies without a will or any kind of estate plan. But it’s not something that’s very ‘one size fits all’ especially these days where we have blended families and more unique family situations that don’t all fit into one nice little box that the Florida statutes have set up.
Jennifer: Lots of fighting as usual in the worst case scenario case, lawsuits over how the assets of the estate are split up. Also whether it’s with good intentions or bad intentions people fighting over who should be raising the children. So sometimes everyone wants to raise the child because they know that child has a multimillion-dollar inheritance and they want their way to get a little piece of the pie.
Eric: Or control of it.
Jennifer: Or control over control of the pie. However, you want to put it, or you know, in a more decent family scenario just a bunch of people that want to be in charge of raising that child because they all have different opinions on what would be best for them. So again it’s so much nicer if the parent who knows each of those people in the family can make that determination as to or even a family friend or someone that you trust would be in charge of raising the kids rather than tossing a bunch of names in the hand and crossing your fingers and hoping it works out well.
Eric: The Judge does that one. So while that’s all happening what’s happening to the kids?
Jennifer: Sometimes they’ll be in you know, group homes, sometimes they’ll be staying with one family member or another temporarily. And in a time where our children need consistency and structure because the kids are going through a very stressful situation their parents just died. The last thing that you want is them bouncing around from house to house or facilities. And it really is ideal if they can just immediately go to whatever their next forever home is going to be or even first some parents will have their estate planning set up so that they can stay in the home that they’ve been living in and have their new caregiver come to live in that home again to give them consistency as far as living situation, staying in the same schools, staying near the friends that they’ve been around so that is few other things in their life are changing all the same time.
Eric: Does that happen a lot with some of the parents and the new Guardian moves into the house?
Jennifer: Yeah, It does. You know, particularly if the person who’s going to be the guardian for the children maybe doesn’t have as much financial success but they are better suited to care for the child emotionally and spiritually and all of those other aspects of parenting besides the finances. So it can be a nice fit.
Eric: Nice. So when do you like to see people come in to start planning with you? I’m guessing you start away right away, immediately?
Jennifer: Right away, immediately. I have clients that are as young as 18 because some aspects of planning are just what happens to you yourself if you’re ever incapacitated. So you can have an 18 year old who’s in a car accident or something like that. And if they’re don’t have legal documents in place it’s not automatic that their parents can come, get information from the hospital, make health care decisions for them or make financial decisions for them. So even at 18 you need to start with a bachelor plan to speak just so that you yourself are covered.
Eric: Bachelorette Plan
Jennifer: Bachelorette plan. But once you have kids of course then you need to start thinking about those kinds of plans for them or even before you have kids. Once you have some assets built up you need to figure out how that’s going to transfer to whoever you want. It could be charities or family members. Most people just don’t want to see it going to the Government or whoever the Florida statutes have set up for them.
Eric: So is that what happens?
Jennifer: Generally speaking these statutes have sort of an order of closeness in your family tree of where your assets would go if you didn’t decide. But for people that don’t have close family members you know, so if all you have are more distant cousins then you know you sort of run down that list and that’s all there is.
Jennifer: So you know it would be ideal and that kind of a scenario if you don’t have any close family to set up wills or trust that would leave things to charities or friends or you know, whatever you want.
Eric: So what do they do with that money? You know, say I passed away, I don’t have any close family, the Government takes it and it just gets absorbed into the apparatus.
Jennifer: Florida has an unclaimed funds department. I guess you would call it. Florida Treasure Hunt is where you can find all sorts of unclaimed funds. So some people will have a bank account that they forgot about that closed and some money like that is there and available.
Eric: I think I looked at it once and FPL owed me like 80 bucks for a house.
Jennifer: Yeah, I looked on it and I had 40 dollar law school application refund fee that never made its way back to me. So money can stay in there for a certain amount of years to see if someone who is entitled to that money comes around. But if not then eventually it does go to the state.
Eric: Gotcha. They just use it for whatever they feel like whatever it feels like.
Jennifer: Whatever they’ve decided they need it for.
Eric: There’s just waiting, hoping that no one hears you. Like please can you just drop dead so we can take your money? I wonder what percentage of what they make is just people, like unprepared people? It probably can’t be that much.
Yeah because in some situations if they have a spouse or children or grandchildren then those would be people that would take by default. So it makes sense. So you know, what are some misconceptions that people have that you would want to clear up about what you do?
Jennifer: A lot of people hear Estate Planning and they think well I don’t have an estate, I’m not wealthy. But really, like I said even if it’s just those basic plans for incapacity or even if you just have a little something built up as far as net worth it’s still a good idea to have the plans in place.
One of my friends. His son died unexpectedly in his 30s and a lot of his assets were a little bit in this bank account and a tiny little bit of home equity. And so the cost to probate the estate to transfer over the amounts in those bank accounts and the home equity it just wasn’t worth it. So his parents his family walked away from it entirely because the amount that they would have had to spend in court fees and legal fees to get access to it would have completely eaten up whatever was there.
Eric: And I think a lot of people think I know I did, up until years ago that you know if you have a will. You’re all set. You know, right. And obviously that’s probably to any kind of assets at all.
Jennifer: Yeah, a lot of my clients come to me and they say okay, I’ve got a will so that we don’t have to go to probate. And it couldn’t be further from the truth. A will is the instructions for the probate court as to what you’d like them to do ideally and for the most part they will follow what’s in your will. Unless there is an extenuating circumstance not to. But you know Anthony Bourdain just recently passed away. He had a will based plan so I’m able to find out all of the information about his probate process.
Eric: How did you know? It must have had some kind of trust, that’s insane.
Jennifer: It happens all the time.
Eric: That’s crazy because he wasn’t even that young.
Eric: And he’s obviously really well off and he could clearly afford an estate attorney.
Jennifer: He would benefit from the privacy aspects of having a trust-based plan.
Eric: Right. I don’t know about the public side. So his will is public?
Jennifer: Yeah, so the probate process is a court process. It’s public, for anyone who has any desire to keep things private they would want to opt for a trust-based plan which is similar. It’s still a set of instructions as far as who’s in charge, what should happen with your money. But your family and your attorneys or accountants can take care of that privately. Usually a lot more efficiently and quickly because the courts not getting involved. And also a lot less expensive typically to administer a trust-based plan for the same reasons. The attorneys don’t have to go to court as often and it makes things a lot simpler.
Eric: Gotcha. So someone has their will, they want to come to you. What’s the next step?
Jennifer: So if someone wants to set up their estate planning of any sort. It’s a good idea for them to before they come to me meet with an attorney. Get a little bit of an organized overview of what type of assets they have, rough values of those things, where they would want to see those assets transferred at their death and who should be in charge of it.
So it’s sort of an inventory of all of your important people, all of the important things in your life that way you can be prepared to go meet with an Attorney and make some intelligent decisions because I can help someone decide the most financially or legally efficient way to do things. But when people ask me well, who should I pick as a Guardian or you know, I don’t know what to set up as far as percentages of my estate. Things like that, I don’t know. That’s your department. I’ll make sure that it happens the way that you want it to but you have to tell me how you want it.
Eric: Right. Is there any kind of; other than I guess internally. I was wondering if there was any kind of counseling or you know, it is a tough call. You know, how to set up your stuff and the right way to do it, you know, I wouldn’t know what to do. I guess I should. I too need to see that I have a will that it’s just chilling there hanging out and I’m unaware that it’s a problem because
Jennifer: There’s room for improvement.
Eric: Yeah exactly. Yeah, we did it with my dad and thankfully he got all set up like literally right in the nick of time. You know, like days before he passed away. But that was the worst case scenario doing it, and we know he was dying and you know, there was like this clock,
Jennifer: Yeah enough things going on going to visit your attorney.
Eric: Yeah. It was an ordeal. Did you get a lot of that, people trying to rush in before the buzzer or something?
Jennifer: Yeah I do. And you know, so for clients like that where it’s a much more urgent scenario I do kind of drop everything else and focus on that because a lot of people they just don’t think of it until someone is really ill or they’re under hospice care and they go “Oh, we never got around to doing that will our trust that we’d been planning on. So hopefully you get it done in time.
Eric: But yeah and we know that there was some stuff that got left they didn’t get there in time so it ended up in probate. So I mean, you know, I wonder how people survive when you know a chunk of their stuff. So his stuff was in probate for months. So obviously it’s frozen and it’s set aside and for us it still wasn’t a big deal because the other be a council you know, most other people had access to and everything. But I imagined that I could be you know it could be life changing to somebody.
Jennifer: Absolutely. The probate process in Broward County Florida, for example, can easily take six months. And if your main asset is your home which for a lot of families it is you’re dealing with an asset that while it’s stuck in that probate proceedings. Who’s paying the taxes and the insurance and mortgage and all of the upkeep expenses if you don’t have the ability to sell it immediately or rented out? So it can almost become this financial burden or where it may end up. Then again not being worth it to probate the asset if by the time it’s all said and done you’re going to be stripping through the equity with all those expenses that you have.
So with a trust-based plan if someone owns their home in a trust or rental property their trustee can take over immediately at that person’s death and sell it the next day if they need to. So again it helps make sure that things are going to function quickly and efficiently and then therefore economically.
Eric: Is there any kind of planning or set up that you like to see specifically for people with young kids, different from people with you know either grown kids or no kids or adults?
Jennifer: I mean I think that the parents do by default choose a very similar thing to any of my clients that have young kids unless they’re extremely wealthy.
Jennifer: We’ll just say everything to their children.
Jennifer: You know, surviving spouse first and then to the children. So yes that’s how I would like to see it set up but I don’t need to do any pushing there and that’s just usually how it goes unless it’s you know an extremely wealthy family and then they say you know, a few million dollars, my kids are going to be set and then we do want to leave some to nieces and nephews or charities or whatever.
The wills; even if you are using the trust-based plan they name the guardian for your children in the will so that’s the one really important function that you want to have taken care of there. But then you can have all of the other details as far as finances within the trust.
Eric: Are there any big mistakes that you see people make that you wish they didn’t?
Jennifer: I would say the biggest mistake is trying to do it themselves, because
Eric: Like a rocket loader type thing?
Jennifer: Yeah exactly. You know, or even worse like just writing something in a Word Document or a napkin.
Eric: Putting and ‘X’ on it like an old school Pirate on a napkin?
Jennifer: In general, it may work okay but there’s a lot of formalities as far as witnesses and notaries that you want to make sure that all that’s done properly and a lot of the DIY plans don’t know to plan for certain unique situations. Like if one of your children has some kind of special needs and you want to make sure that that child has their inheritance managed for them long term.
Again, you know your average Legal Zoom plan may not think to account for that and especially may not account for that in a way where the child is still going to be eligible for Government benefits like Medicaid or food stamps in addition to their inheritance. So a lot of the DIY plans you would see that would either completely disinherit the child so that they could stay on their Medicaid benefits or whatever. Or they would receive their inheritance and then have to spend down that inheritance until they could they apply for Government benefits again. But as you can imagine you know Medicaid and food stamps alone does not really create a very ideal lifestyle.
Jennifer: So for anyone in that kind of a situation or even a sort of a backup if the situation occurs put the money into a special needs trust so that that money can just supplement what Medicaid doesn’t cover. So you know, their housing expenses and clothing things like that that aren’t paid for.
Eric: Gotcha. How much parental control is someone allowed to put into the trust? By that do they have to go to bed at 9 p.m. every night, have a strict vegan diet? I mean what you know to what extent are you allowed to parent from the grave?
Jennifer: You can put a lot of detail in there. I wouldn’t recommend getting quite that detailed. Hopefully whoever you are choosing as your guardians and trustees are people that you trust to make good judgment calls. But you can put in lots of specifics as far as if you want your children to receive their inheritance at certain ages when they may be a little more financially mature or may be receiving different amounts of their inheritance from milestone events like graduating college or finishing grad school.
A lot of my clients will do that to encourage their kids to finish school and finish school quickly even though the parents aren’t around to encourage it like they would if they were still alive. So you can put a lot of things into the planning. But I kind of look more at the bigger picture items rather than getting stuck in the weeds.
Eric: Have you seen a really bizarre request like that?
Jennifer: I’ve seen some but for the most part people don’t get too wacky about it. A lot of the burial instructions get a little more
Jennifer: Specific, you know, if they want their ashes thrown into a volcano or you know, just
Eric: I mean you see them all the time. So what are some better burial instructions you’ve received? Because I don’t know what I want to do. So it’s good to get you know, you get inspiration from a lot of people.
Jennifer: Yeah, I didn’t know that was a good one you know,
Eric: Ashes in a volcano?
Jennifer: Thrown into a volcano
Eric: Any particular volcano?
Jennifer: Down in Hawaii
Eric: Any specific volcano?
Jennifer: Yes, a specific volcano that was of significance to them.
Jennifer: A lot of people are doing more eco-friendly burials where there’s different alternatives to cremation now where it’s done with scientific process behind it. But you know basically like a liquid solution it will dissolve things more naturally and more environmentally friendly way. You also see people doing different things where they can have cremains pressed into diamonds or I guess a cubic zirconium, so that there’s like a keepsake to that. Or some people that will have their ashes put into a planter that will then grow a tree which I think is kind of high pressure on someone to keep that tree alive.
Eric: Yea right, seriously.
Jennifer: So that one doesn’t seem very appealing to me although I like the idea of life of the life cycle.
Eric: The idea is cool but yeah, you’ve got to have someone who has to water and make sure the tree is okay.
Jennifer: Yeah because I mean I’m fairly good with plants but I don’t think breathe but that’s just too much pressure.
Eric: It is. You think that’s grandma or three generations go by and we can’t sell the house because we got the tree in the backyard.
Jennifer: Yeah. My mom told me that she wants to be pressed into a diamond and I sat there for probably 15 minutes telling her I need you to acknowledge that you forgive me in advance if perchance I lost it.
Jennifer: Of course I’ll try not to.
Jennifer: But that would be a very guilt ridden situation for me to lose that diamond necklace or whatever it is
Eric: Absolutely. I’d be terrified.
Jennifer: I’m saying it publically. She’s already promised to forgive me in advance.
Eric: I don’t even know. The idea of picking, for lack of a better word, like a trendy you know, burial solution and knowing that I might forget you know, 40 years from now and then pass away that you know I picked this thing that was cool in 2018 and 30 years from now people are like oh that’s bizarre good luck. Or you did this in the tree phase that’s cool, you know when that was cool.
Jennifer: Yeah. I mean everyone has a you know, I like different trends I guess for whatever industry you’re in. But I mean I guess that’s why I guess you can update estate plans over time and you should both to make sure that it matches up with changes in the law, changes in your family, changes and burial trends I guess. I never really mentioned never mention that to you but I guess if they pick something odd or maybe you know,
Eric: May be aware that it might not be cool 10 years from now too.
Eric: Yeah, I mean you know it’s like different laws changing maybe something we can do cremation anymore.
Jennifer: You know, it’s not very eco-friendly.
Eric: What happens in that case if the law changes? If the law changes for some things then a legal that you had put into an estate plan before I guess the courts would have to try to decide something that’s as closely in line with what you’ve decided. There are some case law where people left their estate to charities that but then that charitable purpose no longer exist.
Jennifer: So look there used to be charities that would take care of retired fire truck horses. I think that was the scenario and we don’t really have fire trucks by horse anymore. So in that case the courts had to decide you know what’s a similar charitable purpose and give it to another charity that I think was dealing with horses but not necessarily.
Eric: I was going to say do they go to the horse route or the fire truck for the fire department route.
Jennifer: I mean I guess maybe you could make an argument for splitting it.
Eric: Right, yeah. That makes sense. Yeah I guess if that charity doesn’t exist anymore or like you said something that just goes out of fashion you know, or if isn’t around. Because longevity, or if somebody has a ton of you know, if someone is extremely wealthy and you know, they said they want it you know, every year you know, the thing can go away which I never think about. I’ve always wondered about, then I encountered this a little bit when we buried my parents you know, the upkeep on the cemetery, the grounds or what not. They have to be there forever essentially you know.
Eric: And I think the state pays for it. There’s a fund that they put some their money into right?
Jennifer: Yeah I think so. I don’t know too much on the particulars or how that works but I know at least locally here at no point trying to decide how they’re going to keep up the upkeep of the cemeteries locally and you know, it sort of seems like they just keep expanding and having new burial plots that kind of pay for the maintenance of the older areas.
Jennifer: And you can really do that so far I guess.
Eric: It’s like a Ponzi scheme but whether they are paying for it or not it’s the ongoing cemetery Ponzi scheme racket.
Eric: Also was there anything else you wanted people to know specifically you know, if they’ve got young kids and they’re worried about it? What should the next step be for them?
Jennifer: Well, they should definitely reach out to an attorney sort. Don’t try to do it yourself. You can either contact a private attorney like me or if you can’t afford to hire an attorney you can contact legal aid. They have some version of that in most counties. And then you get paired up with a volunteer attorney like myself that will do the planning free of charge and that way you know that you’re getting the right advice that you need and have the plans in place. That way there’s an option for everyone even if they’re not able to hire an attorney privately.
Eric: What should somebody look for, an attorney if they are looking for this?
Jennifer: Definitely, an Attorney that focuses on that area of law. So you don’t want to go to your Criminal Law Attorney and that does wills on the side now and then.
Eric: Does that happen a lot?
Jennifer: It does. Unfortunately, a lot of attorneys will think oh, I can put a will together and most of the time if they don’t do it on a regular basis it’s still that same scenario like the client trying to do it themselves they just don’t know what they don’t know. So there may be some nuances or some contingencies that just don’t get planned for appropriately.
Eric: Gotcha. So someone who does it full time, I mean that’s pretty much the main thing to look for.
Jennifer: Yeah, like for me this is all I do all day every day you know, estate planning, asset protection, incapacity planning you know, so all the aspects related to that.
Eric: Has anything changed since you got started?
Jennifer: The tax law has changed pretty frequently.
Jennifer: So like the estate tax, exemptions have changed, the power of attorney rules here in Florida has changed in 2011. January of this year the tax law changed dramatically as far as how much you can transfer tax-free federally. Florida State is the same with that. We just don’t tax the States here in Florida.
Eric: That’s nice. If there is an ongoing continue what you have with the trust that’s paying ongoing and the tax laws changed. Are they frozen at the time of passing or do the laws change? How does that work?
Jennifer: So it will still be under whatever the current tax laws are. So trust pay income taxes if the trust’s assets are earning income in an investment account for example. So they’re going to pay taxes based on whatever the current law is.
Jennifer: Trust income tax rates are kind of high but you know, they still sort of hover in that range of area.
Jennifer: So whatever is in effect at the time.
Eric: Right, because I was imagining no you’re trying to optimize for a current tax set up and then the laws change 5 years from now and now it’s like your plan is out of whack for the current environment.
Jennifer: yeah, so there have been better years to die than others for the initial estate tax.
Eric: What’s the best year to die?
Jennifer: I think it was 2010 was a really good year but right now you can transfer over 10 million to your family tax-free. So estate taxes at least here in Florida, right now don’t apply to a lot of people but you know, you can go back within our lifetime and it could have been 600, 000. Then taxes are applicable to a lot more families.
Eric: Absolutely, that’s crazy. It’s crazy that’s such a wide discrepancy.
Jennifer: Taxes are something that, depending on what political parties in power things can
Eric: The flavor of the month
Jennifer: Exactly, it’s going back and forth.
Eric: Awesome, so anything else you want people to know?
Jennifer: I’m not sure what we’re supposed to talk about. Oh definitely want to talk about as far as explaining your plans to your children.
Eric: Oh, okay.
Jennifer: Because a lot of my clients ask me well, do I talk to my kids about this or should I just you know, see what happens? So for that, I recommend using age-appropriate language and level of detail – a very different conversation with a 4-year-old than a 16-year-old. It should go without saying but be honest about it.
Jennifer: Of course you want to make them feel comfortable but it’s something where you’re doing a child a disservice to kind of ask them about what’s going to happen.
Eric: In either direction probably you know.
Jennifer: Yeah and you don’t necessarily need to get into dollar amounts or things like that but it’s good for kids to have an overview of what things might look like if their parents are incapacitated or at their death and of course give them the reassurance and explain things in a way that it’s unlikely and that you hope that you’re there for your kids but if not then you’d be living with Grandma and Grandpa or whoever it is. That way they can at least know even if something happens to their parents there is still a safe place for them and that’s huge because kids do worry about their own safety and you know, what’s going to happen to me and so that gives them that extra reassurance knowing that there are other people that will also be looking out for them.
Eric: And then I guess the same goes for making sure that the Guardian is aware.
Jennifer: Yes, yes definitely. Anyone that you’re asking to act on your behalf you should probably talk to them first.
Eric: Does the Guardian have to agree?
Jennifer: Yes, yes.
Jennifer: So they do have to agree to serve. So in some situations, it’s good that there are back up Guardians if for any kind of reason that your first choice isn’t able to serve then there are other people who can serve as well.
Eric: Do they agree at the time of duty essentially? Or do they do it when the estate planning is done?
Jennifer: At the time of their service but it is a good idea when you’re doing the planning to ask them then and make sure that they’d be comfortable with it because it’s a big, big deal.
Eric: Right, have you ever have Guardians being surprised by they didn’t know and all of a sudden they find out their Guardian as a kid? It sounds like a movie.
Jennifer: No, but I’m sure that that does happen sometimes.
Jennifer: Like surprise, I chose you as the trustee to manage this money for the next 20 years
Eric: And my kids yeah or make you the executive of an account, an estate. Yeah, I can see it because you don’t think, most people don’t think anything’s going to happen. So I can see setting up a trust or having it all good to go and you pick Aunt Sally and thing you’re going to tell her eventually and you don’t and you get hit by a car and all of a sudden she finds out she’s responsible for your kids for the next. Awesome, anything else? You’re good?
Jennifer: Looks good.
Eric: How can people get a hold of you? Where are you at?
Jennifer: So people can get in touch with me through my website which is Jennifergomez.com, that’s usually the best way to send me a message through there.
Eric: It’s awesome that Jennifer Gomez existed that you were able to get it.
Jennifer: I had to have like, whatever a sort of alert it is. Once it becomes available.
Eric: Oh you grabbed it?
Jennifer: Yeah I grabbed it.
Eric: So some other Jennifer Gomez let it expire.
Eric: Well they should have had it in their estate planning, they would have passed it on.
Jennifer: Yeah, I guess.
Eric: They missed out
Jennifer: Yeah, so that way you can get links to all the social media for my firm and get in touch with me there.
Eric: Awesome and is there anything people should have? We kind of talked about already what they should come prepared with before they contact you.
Jennifer: Yeah, actually also on the website if you go to our main page on there you can download a guide that will help you have a worksheet and some general information so that you can kind of figure those things out in advance especially for married couples. It’s nice for them to be able to talk about it privately before they’re sitting in front of me so that they can have their debates about it before they have another person in their room to watch them.
Eric: Sure. That’s always handy. So we get I don’t know 10, 20, 000 people per episode is what question would you like to ask the general audience that they can answer for you in the comments?
Jennifer: I would want to know what sort of aspects of planning are they still confused about because I do a lot of public speaking, I do a lot of seminars, I come chat with cool guys like you and try to overcome a lot of the misinformation that’s out there. a lot of people hear about most of these topics from movies and TV and so it’s not necessarily applicable information
Eric: A lot of urban legends.
Jennifer: A lot of urban legends, A lot of “Oh well that happened to so and so in another jurisdiction, in another state where the laws can be completely different. So yeah, I’d love to know what people are still unsure of or you know what they want to know.
Eric: Okay, perfect. Awesome thank you.