Bertram Financial Weekly Estate Planning Spotlight
In our last Power Hour, during the estate planning and spotlight, we discussed some important points that need to be discussed when it comes to estate planning.
So often, we find that people think of estate planning just in the terms of having the right legal documents in place. But Nells has makes a good point that an estate plan is a lot more than just a document. But there are a lot of conversations that need to occur between family members and loved ones to make sure everything is in the right place.
I think about it this way – let’s say I go to an architect, and I want a design for a house. The architect can give me a design for the house – no problem. But if I didn’t have a conversation with them about what I want in the house, it’s probably not going to be what I actually want, right? I need to tell them how many bathrooms, how many bedrooms, garage stalls and all the other many details that go along with developing a blueprint.
The same is true with estate planning. If you don’t have the conversation about what’s important based on your values and wishes – then you might end up with boilerplate documents that mean nothing to you.
So I want to talk about a couple key conversations we should be having in the process of estate planning.
There are some things in estate planning that we do NOT really have to spend much time on. What we normally think about is who will get everything when I’m gone? That’s really the easiest part of the estate planning process. More important is the question of, “Who will help me if I become incapacitated, or I can’t make decisions on my own?”
So when you’re thinking through these things, and maybe talking through your needs with an estate planning attorney and hopefully with your family, you want to think about not just the documents, but your values and beliefs and what you want with it.
For example, a medical power of attorney is something that if you go to the hospital and you don’t have one, they’ll have you sign one that’s really simple and quick, it’s just a document that designates a person to be in charge of making the decisions about medical care if you are rendered unable.
However, when we begin to think. About design a medical power of attorney, we’re going to talk about how we want to make those decisions, some of the really key decisions that will have to or could have to be made. Then the second part is having that same conversation with whoever you’re putting in charge of making your medical decisions.
I know just recently, one of my good friends was the medical power of attorney for his mom. His father is still alive. My friend and his parents had worked with an experienced and trusted attorney to carefully craft an estate plan including and Medical Power of Attorney, that spelled out his Mother’s wishes regarding resuscitation, extraordinary care to extend her life and more. His Mother did not want measure taken to extend her life if her quality of life would not meet her expectations – which were also clearly defined.
She made her son the sole Medical Power of Attorney as she did not believe her husband of 55 years would be able to fulfill her wishes. Not more than about 6 months after completion of the estate plan, his mother fell ill and he found himself in that exact situation and while painful, he was able to stand his ground on his mother’s behalf and make sure her wishes were met.
So it’s not only important to have the good conversation, again, with an estate planning attorney, but with your family, whoever is going to be making those decisions.
The same is true with the financial power attorney.
We don’t often think about this, but it’s the only document that gives you and your spouse, or someone else that you choose, especially if you’re single, the power to take care of your financial life, everything besides the power of attorney and medical power of attorney if you became incapacitated in any way for a short period or a long period.
Without these conversations and without proper planning and documentation of wants and needs, your life and the life of your loved ones can it up in a real mess. Last memories and moments spent together don’t have to be consumed with thoughts and questions of how to take care of people you love.
Hope you join us next time!
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