'Tis The Season for Estate Planning
Wednesday, 21 December 2016
by Erin McAllister, Paralegal
There are two main issues that need to be addressed: advanced directives and the parents' will. Since these issues are hard topics, it is best to set a time before, after, or even on a different day so long as everyone is still in town. To help coordinate, it is usually a good idea to notify everyone, in advance of them making travel or vacation plans, that the discussion or meeting is going to happen on a particular day and time.
An advanced directive is a legal document that advises doctors about certain medical decisions a person wishes to be made if they become unable to make the decisions. Typically, these involve requests to either remove, or not remove, life support, or not to resuscitate, if a person becomes incapacitated, comatose, brain dead, or is suffering from some other condition.
Frequently, advanced directives are difficult documents to discuss with family members, especially if a parent is adamant about not being resuscitated if the worst happens. Having the discussion may be difficult, but when everyone is together, there is a greater chance to talk openly and reach an understanding.
Will / Estate Plan
Another important topic to discuss is the estate plan. While parents will generally leave their estates to their spouses, children and grandchildren, some individuals want to make charitable contributions as well as leave certain items to non-family members. It is important to discuss these matters so that when the time comes, there is no confusion. Also, having the discussion may also enlighten a parent as to what are the important, sentimental items that are specifically wanted by family members.
Meeting with an estate planning attorney before having the family meeting is a good idea in order to understand all the items that need to be addressed. Also, since these issues are all matters of state law, a local attorney can advise you about how the process works, give you some talking points to discuss with your family, and help you finalize your documents.
Lastly, while the above might require some emotional discussions, discussing with the family how to handle the email and social media accounts (Facebook, twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, etc.) will feel like a lighthearted way to end the discussion.
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