Thanksgiving brings families together to share memories and to talk turkey and football. However, one topic often overlooked during family gatherings is the more difficult conversation about family, assets, and plans for the future. CBS Boston’s “Our Families: The Important Papers,” explains how such discussions about important papers and their locations, including estate planning documents, asset lists, contact lists and more, can be a gift to those you love.
It’s a wise plan to have a responsible person in your life who can access your important papers at every age. You should also make sure that your important paperwork is organized and filed so they can find it, so they don’t have to ransack your home looking for these documents.
Begin by making a list of important people and their contact information. You should also make the list of where the important documents are located.
Think about this for a minute: you live in State A, and your widowed sister lives in State B. If something should happen to your sister, you may be hundreds of miles away. Do you have the phone numbers for her friends and the next-door neighbor? What about a list of the important people in her life? How about her doctor’s info? Get that contact information, just in case you need it.
Now think about what would happen if you had an accident in another state while visiting for Thanksgiving and needed someone back home to find your important documents. Are you organized and prepared so you could tell them exactly where to find them? Could they pay the bills while you were in the hospital out of state?
Before you finish that last bite of turkey, make an appointment to meet with an estate attorney and discuss the following items:
- Discuss creating a trust and “asset alignment”. You can make it easier for your family if you create a trust and align the ownership of assets with the trust. If your assets are aligned, you will avoid probate.
- Discuss creating a will and appointing guardians for any minor children. You should also prepare a will to appoint guardians for minor children (under age 18) and make sure that any assets not aligned with your trust during life will be aligned after death.
- Discuss creating a durable power of attorney and a health care proxy. A power of attorney will allow someone to make legal and financial decisions if you are unable to. A health care proxy allows a designated agent to make important medical decisions for you.
Please contact our office if you are interested in meeting to discuss any of the above-mentioned topics.
Reference: CBS Boston (November 21, 2016) “Our Families: The Important Papers”