The Christmas season and New Year holiday visiting means we get to catch up with family in Southlake and chart our progress, and among our list of things to discuss is end-of-year estate planning. The holiday season is when we remember and talk about people who have passed on and we cherish the memories we made. We also look around and celebrate the time we have with family and friends alive and well in our lives - what an amazing treasure life can be.
Even if you do not talk about all the points we raise in this short article, move the ball forward and feel good about that. Too many people wait until it is too late and end up not being able to communicate. At Barrows Firm in Southlake, Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team help people create end-of-year estate planning that makes sense for everyone and provides peace of mind so you and your family can focus on creating and capturing memories and stories to live on.
Being prepared for situations you cannot personally handle because of temporary sickness, hospitalization, surgeries, or death, means your family and friends are considered in your absence. For your benefit and the benefit of others around you, it is good to not leave anyone in the lurch if the situation should arise. New Year's Eve is coming up, are you ready and prepared? What about your family? If you were unconscious and needed surgical decisions made, who has the legal authority to do so? If you cannot answer that question, and the person who would be asked does not know either, there is still work to do.
Specific Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan:
1. Marriage: You or a family member like your parent gets married for the first time or next time and they need to add their new spouse to their will, trust, beneficiary designations, and power of attorney documents.
2. Divorce: Just like a marriage, a divorce changes things and who we want to be listed on our estate planning documents, especially our living trust and life care documents.
3. New Baby Born: Whenever you have named children in legal documents and there is a newly born child, it is important to make updates to estate plans, and it gives opportunities to consider anything else that is happening that requires an update.
4. Adopted Children: Foster parents adopting children forever is a wonderful moment and a cause to update estate plans and ensure that adopted children are named and included.
5. Moving: Whether you are the one moving, or a family member is moving, there can be a reason to change your plans based on logistics and what makes sense for everyone in your family. It is common for families to plan on living with aging relatives to provide care, and that might warrant some additional estate planning considerations.
6. Extended Family: If one of your children marries, divorces, or has some significant life event that affects the family, it is appropriate to update wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents accordingly. Life happens and people can change.
7. Retirement: We spend time planning for retirement and when it happens, the circumstances around us can be different from what we expected. When celebrating retirement, remember to make necessary end-of-year estate planning updates as well.
U.S. News: 10 Ways to Celebrate Your Retirement
Taking Time to Talk to Family About Wills, Trusts, and Power of Attorney Issues
When Mom decides that the eldest son is no longer to be the executor of her will, she thinks it makes sense to appoint the son who lives near her in Southlake. But when Mom thought about her healthcare power of attorney, she made no changes. If a mom fails to communicate her intentions to her children, they could face unnecessary problems and conflict over what the mom wanted. While Mom is alive and well, she should tell her kids what her plans are so there are no surprises later.
Does Mom need to discuss every detail about her intentions? Certainly not. If Mom wants to give more to one or the other, she may want to keep that information private for the rest of her life. We never know until some pass on that their last will and testament is different from what was expected and that is simply part of life.
Discussing Where Aging Parents Plan to Live During their More Dependent Years
Part of end-of-year estate planning and growing up is becoming a caretaker for elders and parents who once cared for your every need. Everyone’s situation is different and if you think you can prepare for all life’s twists and turns, you might face all kinds of surprises. Especially if aging parents are still living in their family home in Southlake, they might need some extra help now and then. Keep an eye on things and keep an open dialogue about how things are going and when mom or dad needs too much help it may be time to move to a new place better suited to give that help. Alternatively, home health options and family moving in or spending more time there might be the answer.
Plan to keep working a little on the side? That’s common because people like being productive: Learn more from Ameriprise Financial about Working in retirement.
The sooner people have these difficult discussions, the better they are prepared to relate back later and recall what was discussed and whether those plans still stand. Be sensitive to aging people who have lived proud independent lives, and who might find it upsetting to need help. Be kind and patient. The days you now perceive as difficult will soon be missed.
The Role of the Executor and Sharing Estate Planning Intentions with Family and Interested Persons
Appointing an executor is important and it is something that can change. Making an estate plan is like any other plan, it can change. And when it makes sense to do something one way at one point in time, is something that should be changed if the circumstances become significantly different. If your eldest child is your executor and he or she moves across the country, it might be necessary to change your will and estate planning documents to reflect another closer-living child or designated representative to serve in that role, when appropriate.
Updating Estate Planning as Part of End-of-Year Personal Business
Consider additional changes in life circumstances that affect not only wills and trusts but also the power of attorney documents for healthcare and business purposes. Consider the named beneficiaries of insurance policies and bank accounts.
Learn more on our website: Becoming Executor of a Family Member’s Estate: Avoiding Will Contests and Litigation in the Future
Buying Cemetery Property Now or Later: Planning for a Future Burial
If your family has not made plans for funerals and burial, now is the time. Financial planning should include paying for funerals, burials, monuments, cremation, and other services for the family when your loved one passes.
End-of-year estate planning and financial planning for families can give everyone peace of mind knowing exactly where services will beheld and where final resting places will be. There might also be a previously purchased funeral property that might need to be changed if people now have different plans, such as no longer wanting to be buried and desiring to sell currently owned cemetery plots.
For referrals to end-of-life professionals for funeral services and other family business services, Barrows Firm can offer referrals all over the Southlake area.
Learn more at BarrowsFirm.com or by calling (817) 481-1583.