“Estate planning” and “wine and cheese party” don’t typically appear in the same sentence. But we say, why not? When making big decisions, it’s nice to have a support group around you. And even better if that support group is made up of close friends—friends with wine and cheese in hand! Not the wine and cheese crowd? How about beer and crafts? Or something festive, like a cookie recipe exchange? You know your friends, so pick something that will appeal to them.
Our estate planning parties are specifically designed for parents of minor children. Here’s why: families are generally smaller these days, and guardianship options fewer. Unlike our grandparents, who most likely had numerous siblings to choose from, parents today may have a sibling or two, but many don’t. We may trust that sibling to raise our child, but many don’t. And that sibling may be willing to raise our child, but many aren’t. Heck, we may barely know our siblings. And while our child’s grandparents love them immensely, they’re aging.
If you fall into this group, options are limited. But you may have an overlooked source of guardians in your close friends. They share your values; they know your children; their children know your children. And when suitable family members don’t exist, they could be your child’s saving grace. For most people, though, that’s a difficult conversation to start. (“Hey, want to raise our kids?” doesn’t come up in the general course of things—it’s hard to think about, even harder to verbalize. And of course, there’s always the fear of rejection). But there’s a good chance your friends are wondering the same thing. What if you could agree to be each other’s guardians, to be there for each other’s children if they needed someone?
That’s not necessarily the outcome of these parties—they can also just be a great way to encourage your friends (and yourself) to do some overdue planning. But if you could use some help finding guardians, and you think your friends could too, then what better way to get the conversation started?
If you’re interested, all you have to do is find a day of week and time that works for you and your friends. (Three hours is ideal, two is do-able.) Then call us and get on our calendar. Pick a private location that will allow for easy conversation, such as someone’s house or a community meeting room. And get everyone there. Give us 15-20 minutes to go over some key concepts and questions, and then we’ll open it up for questions. Most importantly, we will walk everyone through the difficult task of identifying suitable guardians for their children. If all goes well, everyone will leave with a guardianship nomination. At the very least, they’ll leave a tad bit smarter.
What’s it cost? Nothing. You provide the location and the “enticements”—be they wine and cheese, or decorations for the cookies—and we will provide the conversation starters, along with customizable guardianship documents for each of your attending friends. If you cancel within 72 hours, though, we do charge a $200 cancellation fee to cover our preparation costs. We hope you understand.
Presently, our estate planning parties are available only through our Bellingham, Washington office, for residents of western Whatcom and Skagit counties. If you are outside our service area and interested in scheduling a party, though, please let us know—we will do our best to accommodate you, or will let you know as soon as we can.