The holiday season is in full swing! I know it may seem a bit strange but, quite frankly, there is no better time than the present to discuss estate planning with your family members. We have seen firsthand how the pandemic has heightened awareness regarding Advanced Health Care Directive, HIPAA, and Power of Attorney documents. Yet, there is so much more that goes into a complete estate plan.
You want to have a comprehensive plan in place to protect your assets and eliminate the time, cost, and publicity of going through conservatorship in the event of mental disability or probate upon death.
Whether you are the patriarch or matriarch of the family or the adult children caring for your parents, we recommend that you take a holiday either in-person or virtually to bring up the subject of what your parents’ wishes are when they pass. Ideally every family will benefit from having this discussion sooner rather than later.
Either a parent or a designated adult child can set the stage for the discussion. Be sure to create an open space. You want everyone to be able to ask questions. It may be a bit uncomfortable at first but, with the willingness to hear and be heard, all will feel they are informed about their parent’s wishes.
Some examples of topics to cover are:
• Will retiring parents downsize and possibly move?
• If you have a family business, then upon an elder’s passing who will step up and take over or should the company be sold?
• If a parent becomes gravely ill, are Health Care Directives and HIPAAs in place?
• Is there a plan in place regarding who will have Power of Attorney/be the Executor of the parents’ will or Trustee of their trust?
• If there is neither a will nor a trust in place, then explain why it’s essential to meet with an estate planning attorney.
Since these topics deal with emotions and money, you may also, as a family, agree to consult with a financial advisor and have them coordinate with the estate planning attorney.
The benefits of having this conversation do not stop at just asset protection and an accurate understanding of intentions. They can also bring your family a sense of empowerment—eliminating leaving things to chance. It can also help your family develop a shared understanding of how you want your legacy to carried on into the future.
Please stay safe during this holiday season and if you have any questions or want to make sure your family is fully prepared, then please call me at 858-564-7090.