It’s that time of year . . . leaves are turning and falling to the ground, the air feels more crisp, stores are advertising for seasonal purchases and families are planning their holiday gatherings and celebrations. Families and friends eagerly anticipate the time to get together and catch up. Telephone calls, emails, and texts are exchanged regarding food and gift choices and arrival dates / times for out of town family members.
When the lines of communication are open and everyone is in one place, it is a great time to discuss estate planning concerns.
I have found that clients who have procrastinated, and then experienced a health care or financial crisis and had to deal with many difficult issues at once often share with me that they “didn’t know how to start the conversation,” “the timing isn’t right,” or they were “afraid that this would be a burden on their children who are busy already.” However, their children oftentimes feel differently. They tell me that they “wish mom and dad would have talked to them so they knew what they wanted.”
Additionally, spouses who have recently lost their mate are often confused and don’t know where to look for important financial documents, legal documents, deeds, passwords, safe deposit keys and the like. One common denominator in all of this is family members do not want to make a crisis harder on their loved ones.
How to Start?
▪ Holiday time is a perfect time to start or continue these discussions. It may be as simple as talking about a friend’s family and how they handled things. (Sometimes easing into one’s own family dynamics is accomplished more easily through the “I have a friend who . . .” approach.)
▪ At Marshall, Parker & Weber, we encourage our clients to take the “Health Care IQ Test.” This is a free publication we provide to help them break the ice and start the conversation.
Here is how it works: One person answers ten multiple choice healthcare – related questions about what type of treatment they would want in particular circumstances. Then, their spouse, child or whomever would have to make those decisions, answers those same ten questions with what they think the person would want. Finally, they both compare the answers and see how well they understand the beliefs and desires in those situations.
If you live in Pennsylvania, call us if you would like a copy of the Health Care IQ test or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your request.
What Can You Do?
Any unresolved questions should then be discussed with a qualified elder law attorney. Preparing for the possibility of your incapacity or death is one of the greatest gifts you can give to your family. Many people feel like a great weight has been lifted off them when their planning is complete.
Estate Planning is too important to do on your own. The issues and laws involved are complicated and everyone’s situation is different. Families need help from a lawyer who is experienced in estate and elder law planning so that your family’s financial security is protected during your lifetime and that the things that you own will get to the right people, in the right amounts, at the right times when you are gone.
Please remember one thing — this type of communication is a perfect gift for the present and the future.
It’s very important to some of our clients that their children or a decision maker can accompany them to an appointment. At Marshall, Parker & Weber, we have found that some clients prefer to schedule appointments over the holidays when out-of-town loved ones can also attend.
If you are interested in scheduling an appointment, please contact our Scheduling Coordinator at 1-800-401-4552 or email@example.com..