I write these columns primarily to encourage people to prepare their estate plan before it is too late. Without preparation, many families must deal with terribly difficult situations that could have been avoided.
Proper planning means more than simply listing what happens to your “stuff” when you die. Estate planning should also address your wishes should you or your spouse become incapacitated and unable to care for yourselves. Also, if you have concerns that your assets may be inappropriately used after your passing, your estate plan should address this concern. This is actually less complicated (and less expensive) than many people think.
As important as these issues are, I try to reflect often on a lesson that should keep all other estate planning issues in context. Unfortunately, that lesson is sometimes forgotten.
I have had too many meetings with families, usually when only one parent is still alive, and watched as children debate their rights or argue about what they deserve after that parent is gone. That parent must feel as if they do not exist, or worse, it does not matter if they exist.
I recall the words of one elderly man, his voice choked with emotion. He was aware that he was likely being taken advantage of by someone he loved like a daughter. But addressing the situation would likely end their relationship. The thought of even more loneliness was more than he could bear. Sacrificing some of his resources for this person’s attention was a price he was willing to pay.
This experience, and others like them, help me remember an important lesson. As important as it is to address estate and end-of-life planning, we must not forget the important contribution of our seniors. Their contribution is so much more than the assets they may leave behind. We must be there for them as they may become more vulnerable.
Come to a free presentation to learn how estate planning can be an instrument to help create family harmony and protect loved ones.