It can be a tough conversation many families don’t want to have — discussing the future and thinking ahead about what it will be like after a loved one has passed. However, having conversations like this ahead of time can be critical to easing potential conflicts that could occur. By taking proactive steps about your wishes, you can assure your family about what you wanted.
When you’re ready to take the first steps with your estate plan, contact Jerimy Kirschner & Associates, PLLC. Our attorneys have helped thousands of families feel at ease knowing that a loved one’s wishes were fulfilled, and we can help your family too.
Essential Estate Plan Documents
When it comes to your estate plan, having these documents and information laid out will help family members in the future:
- Will- having a will specifically shares what your wishes are for your property, your heirs, and more. Wills typically outline who gets what with your estate, funeral and burial wishes, and other requests such as who should be responsible for your pet or if you want to have money given to a charitable organization. Wills can also expedite the probate process which means recipients of your estate will receive everything sooner. Wills can easily be altered as the years go on which is another benefit of having this critical document.
- Trusts- another way to transfer your estate is through a trust. While there are multiple types of trusts, one thing is usually in common — you have designated a trustee to oversee your trust and they are to fulfill your wishes after you pass. If you set up a trust, it’s important for the trustee to know they’ve been named over the trust as this could be a surprise otherwise. Additionally, you want to have faith that the person you name as the trustee will carry out your wishes when the time comes.
- Powers of Attorney - there are multiple powers of attorneys you can designate. The one most people think of is a medical power of attorney where you name someone to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are incapacitated. Other powers of attorneys include general (a broad range of responsibilities including maintaining contracts and buying or selling property), limited (the appointee has limited responsibilities that are laid out), and durable (someone who is designated as a power of attorney for a specific amount of time).
It’s important that once an estate plan is established for individuals or couples to revisit that plan every year or anytime a major life event occurs. This will ensure that the estate plan is the most up-to-date regarding future wishes.
Talking With Heirs
While some may put off having conversations about their estate plan because they don’t want their family members or friends to know how much they’ve personally or together have accumulated, being open and honest about the future helps eliminate any concerns or questions. There are many benefits to having conversations about your estate plan ahead of time:
- Transparency: by being transparent about your decisions you are not leaving family and friends guessing about what your wishes are. This doesn’t mean you need to sit everyone down at once and share what each person or family unit is getting, but rather, it allows you to have personal conversations with family members and individuals about your choices and why you made those decisions.
- Avoids Confusion or Concerns For Family and Friends in the Future: going off of transparency, after you pass, your family and friends won’t have any questions about your wishes and can focus on celebrating your life after you’ve passed. It will give them time to remember and honor you and give them peace of mind knowing what your wishes are.
- Allows You to Make Changes If Necessary: when going through your estate plan, if a family member asks for a change you have the opportunity to do that. For example, if you have family heirlooms you would like to go to a certain child, and that child is not interested in those items, you have the opportunity to make changes to your will or trust knowing that those items will go to someone who wants them and will treasure them.
If you have questions about talking with family and friends about your estate plan or want to begin the process of creating an estate plan, turn to Jerimy Kirschner & Associates, PLLC. With offices in Bellevue and Tacoma, we are available to serve you and walk you through the estate planning process. Contact us today to start your free consultation — (206) 203-8802.