Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Heart of Estate Planning - Anticipate and Plan

On a daily basis I find myself counseling my clients about the importance of putting their wishes in writing.  Most focus on the big issues -- retirement accounts, the house, jewelry.  But I encourage them to give thought to some side issues as well.  For example, is there anyone that would or would not want at their bedside if they are fighting for their life or its their final days?  In the age of blended families this can crop up quite often.

For example, a women may have an ex-husband with whom she raised children.  How does she feel about that ex-husband being present in her hospital room?  What if he wants to be their for emotional support for their mutual children.  How might her current husband feel?  She should decide what she wants, and then put her wishes in her own writing.  Should the scenario ever develop, the power of attorney can point to her note.  The situation may still be difficult, but it will decrease perceptions that the power of attorney is "taking charge" of the situation.

Emotions run high.  Tempers swell.  Words are spoken with regret.  Anticipate situations and do your best to diffuse them.  That is the heart of estate planning.

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