Estate planning is a process that many people dread. Facing mortality and the decisions surrounding failing health can be tough. Because estate planning encompasses so many aspects of your life, there are also some uncomfortable questions you may face. As difficult as this can be, it is important to work through the discomfort in order to protect your wishes and goals. Working with an estate planning attorney you trust can make this process much easier.
Common Questions about Estate Planning
Here are some of the most common questions that may fall into the category of uncomfortable, and why it is important to consider them:
Who will raise your children if you and the other parent dies?
If you don’t establish a guardian for children 18 and younger, the court will do it for you based on their perception of what is in the best interests of the child. You should also consider guardianship for older children or adult dependents who have disabilities or who are unable to care for themselves.
What happens if the entire family dies in a common incident/disaster?
Most estate plans bequeath assets to a spouse and children upon death. But what happens when you, your spouse, and your children all suffer the same fate? What happens to your assets? This is an important consideration.
Are there any Other descendants?
This question is not because an attorney forgot someone’s name. Instead, you may find this question because life situations change. Marriage, divorce, adoption, remarriage, and the presence of “step” or “half” children or siblings can factor into the probate process.
Are there any important relationships not already mentioned?
Relationships are complicated, and so are the legal elements that surround them during estate planning. It is important to discuss important relationships that may factor into the probate process, such as civil unions, same-sex marriages, domestic partnerships, or even close friendships.
Do you have any genetic material stored?
In today’s innovative scientific age, many people have genetic material preserved for the future. Genetic material like sperm, embryos, or eggs may need to be factored into your estate plan, especially if you want to provide for any descendants/beneficiaries that may result.
Have you ever made large gifts to someone else?
Gifts over a certain amount may need to be included in your estate plan for tax purposes. In most states, gifts over $13,000 in a single year to a single person must be reported on income taxes.
What are your wishes for your pets?
Pets are like family to most people, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if your estate planning attorney asks what your wishes are for your pets. You may decide to name an individual to care for your pets, or some people even establish financial trusts for the care of their pet.
Should your family “pull the plug”?
This is a difficult question for most people. At what point do you want your family to stop life-support if you are incapacitated or unable to live without medical support? It is important to think about your feelings on quality of life and when it has diminished to a point that you don’t want to rely on medical support for basic functions or needs.
What are your digital account names, passwords, and security settings?
For most of us, our digital identities are sacred. During estate planning, our cherished online files, accounts, social media, photos and files, are a very real issue to consider. Who will manage your accounts and ensure that any intellectual property is safe?
Have you ever had chronic or serious health conditions?
Even if you are healthy now, it is important to inform your estate planning attorney about any previous health issues that may impact your estate plan.
Preparing to deal with uncomfortable topics ahead of time can ease any tension that may arise. To learn more about estate planning and the questions you may be asked, contact Daic Law today. Call us at (713) 808-5246, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.