We all know about having difficult conversations – whether they’re something we instigated or had thrust on us. While most of us dread having them, difficult conversations have a place and none more so than in your estate planning.
Lawyers love paperwork. We draft it, review it, amend it and advise on it. Wills, Powers of Attorneys, Appointments of Enduring Guardianship – these are the trifecta of estate planning paperwork. And they do a wonderful job of protecting you and your family during your lifetime and after your passing. But while these documents are the legal tools to look after your finances, health and lifestyles decisions during your lifetime and your estate after you’ve passed, legal paperwork can’t substitute a conversation.
So what conversations are we referring to? Conversations with your family and loved ones, specifically, those who would be involved or impacted if one day something unexpected (or expected), happens and they need to make decisions about you, your finances and/or your medical care. When this happens they will need to know your wishes, have your guidance and, ideally, a basic understanding of your reasons for having prepared your legal documents in the way you have.
For those who have been in the unenviable position of having to make decisions for a loved one in a hospital ward, you know that the emotional load is tough without trying to make logical decisions that will (hopefully) be the same ones your loved one would make if they had the choice. Having a conversation with your loved ones about end-of-life decisions, life-extending measures, what your ideal care would look like, can be the difference between a difficult or a bearable moment in time. Giving information on where your legal and financial documents are located, whether you want to be buried or cremated, your wishes on funeral arrangements – it may be confronting to broach the subject of a time when you may be incapacitated or not around at all but the benefits to your loved ones being armed with knowledge can make their lives easier.
Keeping paperwork with information your family will need if something happens to you (again with the paperwork, we know) such as what assets your own, details needed to apply for a Death Certificate, your online accounts and passwords and where your estate planning documents are located, can be helpful and something you can keep updated.
In honour of Bellingen Shire News first newspaper edition, readers can email [email protected] or send us a message on our website, quote BOOKLET, to receive a free Estate Planning Booklet emailed to you to fill in and keep for your family’s peace of mind.