Being an attorney, and in particular an estate planning attorney, has many benefits. For example, I get to ask all those juicy questions that most people would never ask each other! Now before you start thinking that I simply enjoy being nosy, I would like to add that without answers to some of life’s juiciest questions there is no way I can create an effective and accurate estate plan for a client.
With that thought in mind, I enjoyed reading a recent article entitled “12 Estate Planning Questions That Might Make You Squirm” written by Seattle attorney Wendy S. Goffe. I thought all twelve questions are perfect examples of the types of questions that I will ask my clients, and I’d encourage anyone who reads the article to consider how he or she would answer each question and whether or not his or her estate plan was crafted in light of each respective answer.
May I share my own thoughts on three of the questions and why they are so critical to a complete estate plan?
First, the question about who to list as guardians for your children is such a critical question. There is not a single parent in the world who wants to imagine the scenario where they are no longer there to raise their child(ren) – but it happens and it is important to prepare for that type of situation. The author of the article correctly pointed out that without a designation of who you want to serve, the decision could end up in the hands of a judge. Your children will thank you for taking the time to ensure they have a trusted and loving guardian to step in if the need arises.
Second, the question, “what happens if everyone dies at the same time?” is rarely addressed. Just like the guardianship question above, no one enjoys thinking about dying and the thought of the entire family dying is exceptionally difficult to face. However, as rare as it is for this to occur, there are times when it has happened, and it is important to plan for these various possibilities. I refer to this as my “asteroid question” – who would you want your estate to go to if you were all at a family reunion and an asteroid hit the earth and wiped all of you out? It’s a remote possibility but it is a possibility, nonetheless. If you don’t take the time to designate this type of beneficiary, it might just end up in the hands of the government – and we all know how the government loves to spend our money!
Finally, the question about when you’d like your life to end, should you ever be in a dire health situation, needs to be decided before that moment ever arrives. It is heart-wrenching to hear experiences from our clients about how their own loved ones went through an experience that never should have occurred simply because the proper legal health care document was never executed. This, too, is not a fun question to ponder but the literal results of not doing so can be far worse than taking the time to only think about it. Questions regarding life support and resuscitation should be answered before the time arrives and family is left wondering.
At Morris Hall, we are ready to help you answer life’s tough questions, no matter how juicy they are. We’re not being nosy – we’re just doing our job!
To schedule a free consultation to document your wishes, contact us today at 888.222.1328.