If you’ve given any thought about estate planning, you probably associate it with preparing for death. But did you know there are critical reasons (and significant benefits) for planning while you’re still well and alive? That’s why I refer to my services as Life & Legacy Planning. When done right, planning for your assets and your death is something that should start right now through honest, open conversations with your family.
It starts by talking with your parents, siblings, and children about what you want your family’s future to look like, how you’d like assets managed, and what type of care each family member would want in the event of a debilitating or terminal illness.
You may have already started a conversation about estate planning with your family. But this week, we dive deeper into the conversations you need to have right now to truly understand your family’s financial picture and plan for the future in the best way.
Keep reading to learn the two conversations about money and death you must have right now.
Conversation #1: What Exactly Do Your Parents Own?
Initiating the first conversation involves posing fundamental questions to your parents and the older members of your family: “What do we have? Where is it? And how would I access it if you weren’t here to guide me?”
The potential risk to your family’s wealth is intricately tied to the costs incurred in the event of a passing. Beyond the visible expenses of funerals, burial or cremation, and end-of-life medical care, there exists a myriad of unseen costs.
Unclaimed assets, amounting to approximately $70 billion in various departments across the U.S., often slip through the cracks because family members don’t know where the assets are, how to get them, or that they even exist.
Because of this, tracking and documenting assets before incapacity or death is essential to protecting your family’s wealth when someone dies or becomes incapacitated.
It may not be easy to bring up this topic with your parents or other family members, but how you approach it with them will make all the difference. The secrecy of asset locations or the fear of appearing greedy may hinder an open discussion between family members. However, this can be overcome by building trust between relatives and entire generations.
For the junior generation, building trust involves understanding the root causes of distrust and stepping into a mature, caring perspective for the greater family good. Similarly, senior generations can nurture trust by demonstrating faith in the individuals their children have become. After all, if you raised your children with a sense of financial and personal responsibility, you should be able to trust them!
Navigating these challenges may be daunting, but the rewards of building trust and initiating this crucial conversation are immeasurable. Use the conversation as an opportunity to record the locations and access permissions of family assets. If you aren’t sure how to do this, we can help you create a clear inventory of your assets so nothing is lost when death or illness strikes.
Conversation #2: What Are Their Wishes for Long-Term Care?
The next conversation you must have with your parents is about long-term care planning. This conversation extends beyond financial considerations and looks into the emotional intricacies of care, posing questions about who will provide care if your parents become incapacitated or disabled, how it will be administered, and the potential burdens on loved ones.
While money can be a less vulnerable entry point to this conversation, the core involves the tender question of personal care. Addressing concerns such as, “Who will take care of me? How will I be cared for? Will I be a burden on my loved ones?” brings a level of vulnerability beyond financial considerations.
Neglecting this conversation can leave crucial decision-making to the medical system, often resulting in undesirable outcomes and accumulating costs. By engaging in the long-term care conversation, clarity emerges on preferences, funding, and avenues for protection against unforeseen care costs.
Let Us Guide the Conversation
If initiating these conversations feels challenging or uncomfortable, we can help. As your Personal Family Lawyer® firm, we focus on building personal relationships with our clients and their families. We can help guide you and your family through difficult discussions and tough questions about your family’s assets and wishes.
It starts with a Life & Legacy Planning Session™, where we look at everything you own and everyone you love to identify gaps in your family’s security and make a plan that ensures everything will be cared for the way you want when you die or if you become incapacitated.
This article is a service of Ruberg Law PLLC. We don’t just draft documents; we ensure you make informed, empowered decisions about life and death for yourself and the people you love. That’s why we offer a Family Wealth Planning Session™. During the session, you will get more financially organized than ever before and make all the best choices for the people you love. You can begin by calling our office today to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session and mention this article to find out how to get this valuable session at no charge.
The content is sourced from Personal Family Lawyer® for use by Personal Family Lawyer® firms, a source believed to be providing accurate information. This material was created for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as ERISA, tax, legal, or investment advice. If you seek legal advice specific to your needs, such advice services must be obtained independently, separate from this educational material.