So now, it’s finally time to have “The Talk.” Relax, we’re not talking about the birds and the bees – you should have gotten that talk by now. We’re talking about estate planning and probate!
Understandably, you may not be excited about having this conversation. Let’s face it, who wants to talk about death and dying? God willing, you have a long life ahead of you, but at some point, we all need to come to terms with the fact that we’re living on borrowed time and we’d be wise to plan while we can!
With families gathering for the holidays, here are a few things to consider before having “The Talk.” First, there’s no time like the present, so stop putting it off! Give your whole family the gift of peace of mind, knowing that you’re prepared as a team for the inevitable. You may also want to have The Talk before everyone’s three sheets to the wind, even if you think a few quick shots might take the edge off!
What happens to you, your wealth and your family upon death or incapacity is a topic most of us would prefer to ignore, and chances are it could catch everyone off guard. Try keeping the conversation light. Do you know someone who passed away and left everything in shambles? Bring that up and encourage others to share their woeful tales. Talk about what you’d want to do differently to achieve a different outcome.
A touch of humor can help to soften the blow. Let everyone know you’ll ‘haunt’ them if they don’t honor your wishes! In the end, you know your family best, so use that wisdom and insight in broaching the topic in ways they’ll be the most receptive to. The Talk doesn’t have to result in loathing, panic, and tears. Allow it to be a constructive conversation that provides a clear plan everyone can live with… pun intended!
The Talk’s main objective is to inform your family about your wishes and to discover who feels most comfortable in the various roles. Someone may be well suited to look after your minor children and your beloved pets. Another may be comfortable making financial and health care decisions for you if you can’t make them for yourself. You may already have an idea about who you’d like to name in the various roles, but until you have an open discussion with them, you won’t have total clarity and certainty. And remember, what you’re asking friends or family to do for you can be a BIG job, so making sure they’re willing and able to serve is a good thing!
If you have minor or special needs children, appointing a Guardian or two is one of the most important decisions you’ll be faced with. It’s tough to think about the probate solutions of your children growing up without you, but without planning for such a possibility, a Judge in Family Court would make that decision for you! Asking your child who they most enjoy being with could help inform a great decision about Guardians.
If your parents are aging or ailing, you’ll want to encourage them to express themselves openly, while actively listening to them and validating their feelings and emotions. They likely fear being a burden on you more than anything else, so a healthy dose of compassion will go a long way.
You might start by asking questions, like, “How do you want to be remembered? What do you want your legacy to be? Are there any gifts you’d like to make, to friends, families or charity?” This will create a safe space for them to look out into the future and express how they wish to be remembered. Assure them their wishes can easily be incorporated into their Life Planning documents, including their Will, Powers of Attorney and/or Trust.
Virtually ALL of our clients tell us that the life planning process was easier than they thought it would be, that the results were far more comprehensive than they expected and that they LOVE the feeling of peace they experience as a result of getting their affairs in order. Your loved ones deserve that same, comforting experience, don’t you think?
So, be brave and have “The Talk” this holiday season. Then call us to schedule a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with professionals who understand the questions and concerns, know the answers and care deeply about their clients and their families. We’re at (480) 451-7727. Or you can schedule a phone or in-person appointment at https://calendly.com/warner-1. Looking forward to meeting you!