May and June are months filled with family get-togethers of all kinds: weddings, graduations, picnics, barbecues, and family reunions. These get-togethers often remind us about how important our family members are to us. While a family party is probably not the best place to talk with your parents and grandparents about their estate plans, follow up with those older loved ones at a later time about getting their affairs in order.
Talking about these can be uncomfortable, but express to family members that it is vital that they take time now to help minimize difficulties later. It also does not need to be a large, detail-filled conversation either – just inquire whether they have made a will or whether they have thought about making a will or other estate plans. Print out this article and let them read it.
Here are a few simple things to help anyone decide whether they need to complete or update their estate plans:
- It doesn’t take long to review life insurance policies to make sure that contact information is correct for the policy holder while also ensuring that beneficiaries are up to date.
- If your loved ones already have wills, be sure that they review them. They will need to be updated if a spouse, child or sibling has died. They may also need to be updated if the Older Americans have downsized to new residences, closed or sold businesses, or bought or sold vacation homes, boats, or recreational vehicles.
- Remember that property includes not only real property (land, house, condominium, business storefront, etc.), but also personal property such as jewelry, art, sports memorabilia, even pets.
- It is also a good time to address living wills, which are a legal document by which a person makes known his or her wishes regarding life-sustaining or life-prolonging medical procedures, such as resuscitation. This is especially important if a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, dementia, or a life-threatening disease that can impair their cognitive abilities in the future.
- Establishing power of attorney, a legal document by which Person A gives Person B the power to make decisions about their legal and/or financial affairs upon Person A’s incapacitation, is also very important. If one of your parents or grandparents has power of attorney for the other and he or she has died or been diagnosed with a disease like Alzheimer’s, then the document needs to be updated.
These are some simple things that you can do each spring to make sure that your family is protected. Everyone, no matter their net worth, should have estate planning in place. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones.
If your parents, grandparents or you need help reviewing or establishing any of the documents above, please telephone me at (732) 444-6406 or write me an email and tell me you’d like to meet about doing estate planning. I will send you my free Estate Planning Workbook, which is a tool to help you think about all of the different concerns there are with estate planning.
The Law Office of Nancy L. Holm, LLC, a New Jersey Limited Liability Company, is a full-service, general practice law firm located in Monmouth County, N.J., and serving clients in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. You can trust our integrity and commitment to your best interests when you have a legal problem. We offer a free consultation and reasonable rates, so that legal representation is available to everyone.