Very recently, a close friend’s wife lost her Father. Though his health was not the best, his decline was rapid and unexpected. The family, particularly her Mother, struggled to make choices that honored him, their culture and other family members’ suggestions. To put it plainly, it was chaotic, stressful and unsettling. With Valentine’s Day approaching and this all too familiar story fresh in my mind, I thought it would be helpful to point out why Estate Planning is really an act of LOVE, even if a final one.
- Gets all the right documents in place. For example, a Healthcare Proxy potentially alleviates the stress of a family member. Making decisions about healthcare during a stressful time when the focus would hopefully be more on spending time with one another, comfort and so on. In this case, my friend’s Mother was terribly conflicted in her choices for her husband, which could have been alleviated.
- Puts someone in charge and makes any wishes plain. My friend recounted how stressful planning for her Father was right after his death. After a handful of well-meaning family members suggested something about the burial or services, it would change the plans, leading to lots of tears, additional costs and disagreements about what the deceased would have preferred. A plan takes away much of the uncertainty and allows your family to focus on grief and healing.
- Provides for the future. Settle tax, insurance and other financial affairs so that family members who may not be equipped to deal with such matters during the best of times are not tested during the worst time. Such choices could have repercussions that last decades, while the right plan makes way for peace. In this case, the family was struggling over which cars to sell or keep, whether to sell the home and downsize or many other questions.
- Takes Away Conflict. Spelling out your wishes in your will, trusts and other documents also usually stops any conflict between family members or others before it can start. Making sure prized items go to the people you intend is yet another loving way to care for your family after you are gone. Fortunately, her close-knit family did not argue over any specific items, but others might.
When it comes down to it, estate planning is about protecting the ones you love and preserving their future. If I can be of service, please contact me.