My clients frequently express to me how difficult it can be to speak to their family members about the decisions they have made (or are in the process of making) when we are working on their estate planning documents. Sometimes the issue is that a parent’s adult children refuse to discuss these matters because the children are not willing to acknowledge that their parent will die at some point. Other times the issue is a child that cannot get their parents to acknowledge the need to get their affairs in order. The unique dynamics that every family has can often compound the general problem of one person or the other not wanting to discuss these matters. Let’s start this week by looking at the first of the two situations I’ve mentioned above and consider some possible approaches to a potentially very delicate topic. Next Sunday, we will tackle Part 2 of this topic with some ideas for adult children on how to motivate their parents to get their planning in order.
For those who want to avoid the court-controlled process that takes place after a person’s death (known as “probate”) – using a Revocable Living Trust is typically the best way to do so. This document allows a married couple or a single individual to direct what shall happen to their assets and possessions. It will also indicate who will be in charge of carrying out those instructions, without the need for the involvement of a probate court judge.
People regularly move to Idaho from other states and bring with them wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents created in their prior state. Such people often ask me if their old estate planning documents are enforceable in Idaho. Generally, those documents are still valid in Idaho. However, there are some very important reasons to have estate planning documents from another state reviewed by an Idaho estate planning attorney. Let’s remind ourselves what each of these documents are and then consider some of the issues that create concern about out-of-state wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents.
So many of us put off estate planning as something we will “get to soon enough”. However, national statistics indicate that approximately half of all Americans have no estate planning at all. The half of Americans that do have estate planning in place too often have very old documents, perhaps from states they no longer reside in, and even worse, those documents often do not reflect the current wishes and intentions of those Americans.
When most people hear the term “estate plan” they think of a Last Will and Testament. A Will is an important document that serves as a set of instructions to be carried out upon a person’s death. However, an estate plan is actually a collection of several documents that not only deal with a person’s estate upon their death, but also controls decision-making if a person is alive, but unable to make their own decisions. These documents are called Power of Attorney documents and Advanced Directive documents, and they should be part of your planning documents.