All day long I think about death. I suppose, that’s just the way life goes as an attorney specializing in trusts and estates. Maybe that’s why I find it so easy to talk about the consequences of death with my clients. Good thing too! Otherwise I’d be a pretty terrible attorney.
Unfortunately - at least in this regard - not everyone is an attorney and not everyone has the comfort or inclination toward discussing their inevitable demise. Almost daily, I see the real harm that avoiding this sort of taboo conversation levels on the lives of those left behind. Today, I’d love to suggest that you have an honest conversation with your parents and spouses about your estate plan.
Here’s the thing - everybody dies. It’s really just that simple. Is there any other clear fact that causes such discomfort or which we seek so desperately to avoid facing? In reality, ignoring this isn’t helping anyone. It’s certainly not going to change matters in the least. All it does is prevent us from preparing properly to ensure that those we leave behind aren’t burdened in some way. If, instead, we found the courage to address the matter directly, so much harm and heartache could be prevented while saving so much time and money in the process.
When we die, our estates have to be distributed. That’ll either happen how we decide or how our state has determined it’ll happen. You can read more about those specifics here. The point here is that, without a properly drafted and executed estate plan, it’s unlikely we’ll get what we want, but almost certain that those we love will pay both the financial and emotional price. I’ve seen widows and children who resent their departed spouse and parent for having failed to prepare. I’ve seen children disinherited because parents neglected to update retirement plans. It’s tragic and it’s unnecessary.
So, have the conversation. You’re doing your loved ones a favor by broaching the subject. As parents get older, it often falls to their children to help, and that help may come too late. A good plan is conceived well in advance, not at the last minute. The longer the wait, the fewer the options.
If you or your loved ones are in a place where you need help having this conversation, implementing or updating your estate plan, or aren’t sure where to being, then please reach out and I’ll be happy to guide you in any way I can.