“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place” – George Bernard Shaw
Most of us guys can relate to the quote above, especially when it comes to remembering to buy milk on our way home or making a reservation for our anniversary dinner. However, it also describes the difficulty many people have when it comes to discussing their estate plans with family members, especially when it comes to money.
A recent Fidelity Investments survey found that most Americans are more comfortable discussing their financial and estate planning concerns with a third-party, such as an attorney, than their own family members. While this reluctance is understandable, failing to do so may leave your children and caregivers ill-prepared to handle your affairs in the event of your death or disability.
While parents fear burdening their children with their financial concerns or having them live in reliance on an inheritance, some discussion regarding the financial aspects of your estate plan is a good idea. For example, discussing your plans for covering long-term care expenses can prepare your children for the many issues they will face in the event you require nursing home care. If you have long-term care insurance or a Medicaid trust, your family members need to be aware of this in advance in order to avoid missteps that often occur in a crisis situation.
This discussion should also address your preferences regarding your medical care and end-of-life decisions. It is especially important to have this discussion with the individuals you have named to represent you in your Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Directive so that they are prepared to honor your intentions in the event you are unable to do so.
Every family is unique and has its own set of estate planning needs and goals. Just remember the importance of communicating these needs and goals now to ease the transition for your loved ones.
Parman & Easterday