Although initiating these conversations is difficult, I often remind clients that transparency is the key to survivors getting along during a difficult and emotionally charged time. Further, this is an opportunity to empower your descendants and carry over common family values. If your descendants know that you have a vision for their collective future when you are gone, they will strive to fulfill a common family legacy through the generations.
Setting a goal for survivors is a good place to start planning. For some families, having educational funding for children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews or cousins is of paramount importance. For others, maximizing tax benefits is important. For some legacy farm families, maintaining the family’s property legacy is important, while liquidity is less important.
Discuss your goals with your family and get of sense of what their understanding is for the future. Ask your family to help you know those family members who may be able to
When clients come in and they are just in the initial stages of conversation or early planning, but they still want to have some documents in place immediately, I recommend starting with the three basics: a simple Will, a durable power of attorney and a health care directive. These three documents are usually a good start in the event something catastrophic happens in the near future. These three basic documents lay the foundation for an unexpected death or disability and obviate the need for a medical or financial guardianship in the event of your incapacity.
Once the basic documents are in place, then having a conversation about whether additional estate planning documents are necessary becomes less stressful. The act of executing the basic documents can spur discussions around legacy planning, intervivos gifts, charity planning or family trusts.
If you’d like more information about estate planning services, please contact our office at 701-228-2083 or set up an appointment by email.