Derrick and Marlow Daniels: Leaving a Legacy of Love and Financial Security for Their Children

Derrick and Marlow Daniels: Leaving a Legacy of Love and Financial Security for Their Children

(Image: Derrick and Marlow McDaniel)

“If something happens to us, someone is going to show up with a check. We want to be sure their guardian has liquid cash to take care of our girls as they disseminate the things we own,” says Derrick.

When it comes to your health, if something were to happen to you today that left you unable to make decisions for yourself, someone would have to make decisions for you.   These decisions can range from things like needing a blood transfusion if you are unconscious after a car accident, to deciding whether or not you should go on life support.  The person you appoint to make healthcare decisions is called ‘the agent.’ You are ‘the principal.’ Unless you limit your agent’s authority, in most cases, they have the power to make any medical decisions you would make on your behalf. While a healthcare proxy gives an agent the authority to make medical decisions for you, a living will allows you to lay out your wishes. Living wills are often combined with healthcare proxies to create “advanced medical directives, which allow the agent to follow your wishes in the living will without having to ‘figure out’ what you would do.

The person you want to make your healthcare decisions may be different from the person you trust to execute your financial and business affairs. If you become incapacitated and you’re alive, those responsibilities, which include things like making financial decisions for your children, paying everyday expenses, and filing your taxes, are made by your attorney-in-fact. Once you pass, the ‘title’ becomes executor.

Creating a Will
A will is a document that allows you, the testator, to name who you want to manage your estate when you die, this is called the executor. It also allows you to direct how you want your property managed and distributed. More importantly, your will allows you to name who you want to act as the guardian for your minor children or other dependents. If you die without a will, you are what is called ‘intestate,’ and your estate will go into probate.  That means state law determines who gets your assets and the court will decide who gets your kids.

You are not required by law to have an attorney prepare your will, but laws governing wills vary from state to state, so unless you are familiar with your states laws, you may want to get legal advice. Your state also has a Department of Aging which can provide you with guidance.

Do You Need a Trust?
A trust is an arrangement that allows you to give property to one person, the trustee, who holds it for the benefit of another, the beneficiaries. The document creating the trust spells out how you want the assets you have in trust disbursed to beneficiaries. It also helps you avoid probate. If your main goal is to control how your kids use your assets after you pass, you can stipulate in your will that a ‘testamentary trust’ will be created after you die.  There are different types of trusts for different purposes. You should definitely talk to an estates attorney if this is something you want to consider.

The costs of estate planning will vary greatly depending on how much you do yourself. says you can expect to pay between $800 and $1,800 for a basic estate plan.