If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s this: expect the unexpected. From a global pandemic to murder hornets to tornado watches, warnings and touchdowns, it’s been a bumpy ride, to say the least. On the flip side, however, have come plenty of positive things: lazy mornings, appreciating family and friends, and for many, an abundance of free time. Bringing all this full circle, and in recognition of National Preparedness Month, I’d like for you to use your free time to help your family and friends prepare for the unexpected.
How, you ask?
Having thoughtful and deliberate conversations with those closest to you, and working with a team of experts to prepare important estate planning documents.
Starting the Discussion
We recognize that for many, discussing topics as sensitive as end of life care or a will can drum up emotions that are unpleasant. We have a remedy for this, however. Instead of focusing on loss or sadness, focus on the love you hold for your family and friends. If you possess a sentimental item that you wish to pass down, or a family member you’d like to send through college, creating legal documents that spell out these wishes will ensure that they are carried out upon your passing or incapacitation.
Some of our clients use these discussions to take a walk down memory lane either by pulling out family photo albums or simply reminiscing about the good times. This activity, if carried out in a stress-free and positive environment, can be therapeutic, and believe it or not, rather pleasant.
What to Discuss
There are three primary considerations, at least in the early planning stages: power of attorney, health care proxy and last will and testament. To start, you should consider who you wish to entrust with your decision-making if you are unable to make decisions for yourself. This person will be given your power of attorney. The person you select could be a family member or close friend that you trust. Ideally, they are even-tempered and able to make decisions quickly and confidently.
The next step is to name a health care proxy who will carry out your wishes when it comes to your health, including your feelings about:
• Comfort (palliative) care
• Life-sustaining care
• Specific health care providers or institutions
Finally, a last will and testament is prepared and notarized by a lawyer to divide your assets and personal property to designated beneficiaries. Earlier this year, many took to home decorating or trying new recipes or hobbies—this was a perfect time to take inventory of possessions. But not to fear—the opportunity is not lost. Take out a pen and paper, and make a list. This can be a fluid document that you give thought and amendments to. Once it is in a good place, and you feel comfortable with your list, this is a helpful document to bring to a lawyer to discuss.
Contact us and let us know how we can help. While we still are navigating our “new normal,” we have primarily taken to conducting meetings by phone. This helps to keep everyone safe and moreover, comfortable. We know these can be scary discussions, but we are knowledgeable, understanding and ready to help you prepare.