Pasadena family law attorneys stress that communication is essential in the estate planning process. Your heirs should be aware of:
- The terms of your will
- The rules of your family trust, if applicable
- A listing of financial assets, including key contact people
- Power of attorney for healthcare (the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so)
- Power of attorney for business (the ability to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so)
- Funeral arrangements, including a burial plan
- Contact lists for friends and family
Since estate planning involves talking about two traditionally taboo topics, death and money, it’s natural to be nervous about having this conversation with your heirs. However, it’s better to make sure everyone is on the same page now than to leave your loved ones fighting over assets after you have passed away.
A family meeting is generally the best way to discuss estate planning needs. Make sure everyone who needs to be included can attend. Basic ground rules should state that everyone will have a chance to talk, but only one person can talk at a time and everyone must remain respectful throughout the entire process. Schedule the meeting to be no more than one hour long; if it’s too long, people will get distracted. Have one person take notes and then distribute them to everyone at a later date to keep for future reference.
Special concerns, such as what will happen to a family business, who will receive family heirlooms with great sentimental value, or plans that have been made to ensure the care of a disabled adult child, should be discussed freely with your heirs. You do not necessarily need to change your will to honor their preferences, but their thoughts on the issue should be considered.
If you have several heirs and you’re not planning to treat them all equally in your will, be prepared to explain the reasoning behind your decision. For example, some people choose to leave more money to an adult child who sacrificed his or her own career prospects to care for an ailing parent. Others leave more money to adult children without children of their own and make up the difference by providing college funds for the grandchildren. Explaining the reasoning behind your decisions keeps your heirs from feeling like you're playing favorites.
How Can We Help?
Please call our office at (626) 683-8113 or email us at info@PasadenaLawOffice.com if you are in need of assistance creating your estate plan. Our Pasadena family law firm will ensure that your interests are protected no matter what the future holds.