Greetings! The month of October has been deemed National Estate Planning Awareness Month. The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux knows the importance of preserving your legacy to ensure your loved ones are cared for during your incapacitation or death. Formalizing a plan of how your assets will be managed and distributed during these times, is one of the best gifts you can give your family. We are therefore dedicating this month to a variety of topics revolving around estate planning including writing a will, drafting or updating an existing estate plan, advanced health care directives, appointing a financial proxy, powers of attorney among other initiatives.
No matter where you are in life, having a documented estate plan is an important and selfless act for those you love. It affords you the opportunity to have meaningful conversations around your intentions. While these conversations may feel difficult at the onset, it is one of the most beneficial discussions you can have since there are often significant financial and personal benefits to being transparent. From the survivor’s perspective, it is important they understand your intentions and plans for your estate. Here are a few things to keep in mind to make sure that your conversations are productive and leave your loved ones — feeling well loved and at peace of mind:
- Choose What is Right for You
- Just like the individuals behind the estate, every estate is unique and therefore requires a unique plan. It is important to make comprehensive decisions early on that are right for you and your family. Consider all circumstances including who will make medical decisions. *Regardless of age, marital status, or wealth, having a will is important for everyone*
- Gain Peace of Mind
- One of the first benefits of estate planning is the peace of mind that your assets will be transferred according to your desires after you are gone. Putting together a comprehensive estate plan allows you to determine how – and by who – your affairs will be managed.
- Prevent Family Conflict
- Clearly communicating the goals of your estate removes the emotional burden of having to make these difficult decisions from your family members and loved ones. It also helps remove the potential for any conflict or further conversation about how your affairs will be handled, which should result in a smoother and less expensive process.
- Preserve Your Legacy
- It is important to proactively plan to preserve generational wealth, land, heirlooms, and most of all legacies. Most people who spend their lives building and preserving their estate would likely find relief knowing that it can remain intact after they’re gone.
Despite how important this conversation can be, it may still be difficult to initiate and there is certainly more than one right way to begin the dialogue; however, here are a few suggestions to guide you:
- Pick a positive, comfort environment during a period of relative calmness. o Do not wait until a time of crisis when it may be too late to make adequate plans and family members may not feel emotionally able to talk.
- Be sincere about your intentions.
- Be clear that you are initiating these talks out of concern that proper plans are in place and are understood.
- Find ways to “Break the Ice”
- Look for ways to ease into conversations about estate planning. Rather than directly asking if your loved one has thought about their plans, for example, you might get started by talking about a relevant story in the news, or something that has happened to a friend or family member. This can be a great way to “break the ice” and get conversation flowing, even if it may seem scary at first.
- Stress the importance and benefits of this conversation to everyone affected. o One way to do this is to show an example of an estate that was improperly handled because family members had failed to discuss their plans with each other.
Preparing for the unknown can be difficult especially if you are doing it alone. Whether you are looking to get started with estate planning, update your current plan, or guide an estate through the complex probate process, our team of experienced and compassionate advocates are here to help. At The Law Offices of Marjory Cajoux, we know what it takes to guide you through some of life’s most challenging family transitions.