The Basics of Estate Planning
The term “estate” can often lead you to only think of your house, but your estate encompasses everything you own — house(s), car(s), bank accounts, investments, and other personal possessions. Because of this, estate planning is important for all couples. You cannot take any of your estate with you when you pass away; so planning for what happens to your valuables when you pass allows YOU to dictate the outcomes, rather than a court or a third party.
Discussing Your Estate Plan
When you’re married, your estate planning strategies should be determined by both you and your spouse first. Feedback from other family members can be helpful, but ensure that you and your spouse’s wishes are the driving factor. Because death is never a topic that people want to think about, let alone talk about, you need to approach the topic with sensitivity. Here are some tips that might help to make the discussion easier for all involved.
- Find a comfortable and positive environment in which to have the discussion.
- Have the discussion during a calm period, not in a time of crisis when family members may not be in the proper state of mind to talk about estate planning or the future.
- Be sincere and make sure everyone knows that the discussion is only taking place so the proper plans are in place for when the unfortunate eventually happens.
- Stress the importance of having the conversation, as well as the benefits it can provide to the whole family.
A Lawyer Can Help With Estate Planning
An estate plan is a legal issue. Securing legal advice from an estate planning lawyer will help immensely with your estate planning. If you have decided an estate planning attorney preparing your first-time estate plan is the best option for you, you will need to gather all of your relevant accounting and possessions information as well as any relevant documentation. If you’re going the DIY route, or went that direction but haven’t updated it in a while, you should have your will, living will, power of attorney, and trust documentation present. All of those documents may not relevant in your situation, but the more information you have the better it will be when you enter the meeting with your estate lawyer.