Death is an emotionally charged situation. Wouldn’t you want to spare your loved ones the additional anxiety of dealing with questions that are left unresolved by a lack of preparedness?
Most of us would answer, “Yes”!
But this is more difficult than it might seem, and also more complex than simply executing a Will or Trust.
We often like to think that money and love are not related, and that our children will understand and accept our final wishes as we have put forth in our will or trust. We may also believe that the Will or Trust we have created will solve all questions and concerns that arise when we die.
Money is a touchy subject and conversations about inheritance are often avoided. As parents, we put off planning our estates and we put off talking to our children about our plans. As children, we put off thinking about what would happen if a parent died or became incapacitated. This lack of communication can lead to misunderstanding and questions about favoritism and fairness among those who are nearest and dearest to us.
Addressing “What if?”
Parents, as well as children are hesitant to bring up the topic of “what if?” What if a parent died? What if a parent could no longer communicate their wishes? With people living longer and longer, these questions have only become more relevant. And it takes courage to address them; courage on behalf of parents, and courage on behalf of their children.
An experienced Estate Planning attorney can facilitate these discussions and help you make the preparations that will avoid complications between family members. With proper estate planning in place - and a little communication - your family can avoid the legal and emotional pitfalls that follow in the wake of lack of preparation for the end of life.
A place for everything, everything in its place
Once you have made a final copy of your estate plan - including your trust, will, advance healthcare directive, and power of attorney - and any accompanying documents, keep these papers in a special binder whose location is known by those closest to you. If you do not want to disclose financial information to your children before it is necessary, consider keeping your binder in a safe deposit box. Consider also keeping a list of your financial and legal contacts in case children need them.
Many of these things sound simple, but so often there is a “dash to the bedside” in a situation where little if any planning has been made. Loose ends are left untied, things are left unsaid, and no clear message remains for those whom you care about the most.
If you have assets, and you have loved ones who will likely outlive you, then money and love are already intertwined. Plan properly, communicate your plan to loved ones, and let your last message be true to your intention.