The Season of Giving: Why Having an Estate Plan is a Gift to Others
By Riaan Botha, Senior Trust Advisor
A Checklist For Your Family
The holiday season is a time when most of us enjoy time with our family. This might also be the best time to consider introducing the subject of your estate plan. This may be one of the few times when your entire family may be together and you have a chance to take stock of your current family situation and ensure everyone is aligned as to what will happen after your passing. You can give your family the most important gift of all this holiday season: the gift of peace of mind. Telling your loved ones about your wishes and the plans you have made can prevent misunderstandings and unburden your loved ones from having to make difficult decisions. Consider the following checklist for your family as you begin to introduce the subject of estate planning during the holidays.
1. Do you have a last will and testament and is it up to date?
Creating a will is a stressful process, but there is never a bad time to start estate planning and is a necessary life step.
- A will allows you to decide who gets what - When you die without a will, intestate succession laws will dictate which family members will inherit your estate and in what proportion.
- A will names the executor who will be responsible to wrap up your estate. Should this be a family member, make sure they understand what is expected of them and that they are comfortable and confident that they will be able to take up this role.
- A testamentary trust may be established in terms of the will. A testamentary trust is especially useful in the following four situations:
- Your beneficiaries are unable to manage their inheritance.
- Your beneficiaries are minors.
- Your beneficiaries have debts.
- Blended families - you could decide that your surviving spouse can draw income from the trust, but that upon their death the assets will be transferred to the children from your first marriage.
2. Do you have a Power of Attorney for Property?
Sound decision-making can be impacted by a number of ailments. Whether it is a disease like dementia, a traumatic brain injury, or another debilitating disorder, having a properly executed power of attorney (POA) for property will ensure it is clear who will be responsible for your money and property if you cannot manage them on your own.
3. Do you have a Power of Attorney for Personal Care?
A power of attorney for personal care is a written document in which you give someone the power to make decisions about your personal care should you become unable to make these decisions yourself.
Talk About It
The holidays should not be the only time your family hears about your plans and wishes. An estate plan is something that should be flexible, adapt as things change in your life, and make sure the conversation with your loved ones is an ongoing one. Notify your family ahead of time that you want to set aside some time during your family visit for this important conversation. If this is going to be a sensitive discussion, make sure your timing of the conversation is appropriate.
Approach the Subject with Sensitivity
It can be difficult for adult children to see their parents age. It can also be difficult for people to confront their mortality and talk about death.
For these reasons, it is important to approach the subject with sensitivity and to be prepared for an emotional response. Focus on wanting to provide peace of mind.End on a Positive Note
Talking about your estate plan need not be a morbid or negative experience. Emphasize your desire to have your wishes known and respected so your loved ones have peace of mind.
Preparing your Executor
- Keep estate documents updated.
- Understand the structure of your assets.
- Keep and update estate information.
- Integrated Will Memo.
- Digital Inventory.
- How will obligations be met on death?
- Family (support, property claims).
- Create business succession plan.
Your legacy is a fingerprint on the lives you touch, preserve and protect your legacy by ensuring your estate plan is up to date.
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