All of us have family. Whether it is our spouse, children, extended family, or even our pets. What does estate planning have to do with your family? Everything! When we at the Elder Care Firm ask our clients what they want their estate plans to accomplish, the typical answer is, “I want stay in control.” Another answer we hear is, “I don’t want to become a burden to my loved ones,” and also, “I want to keep it simple.”
Plan While You are Healthy
The reality is, the only way to stay in control and keep your estate planning simple is to do it now, while you are healthy. In order to avoid becoming a burden to your family, your plan must provide your wishes for your care so your loved ones don’t have to make life altering decisions for you in matters they ultimately didn’t know what you wanted.
A terrible situation that we have frequently seen at the Elder Care Firm is when the children of clients have had to make the decision of whether to “unplug” mom or dad from life support or what medical treatment to administer to mom or dad, and they didn’t know what mom or dad wanted. While something as simple as this is often believed to be accomplished by a medical directive or medical power of attorney, most medical directives fall short in providing the specific guidance to your loved ones in those “life and death situations”. What is essential to know is most documents, like a Will, medical directive and financial power of attorney, grant a lot of legal authority but rarely provide any instruction as to how to carry out that authority. As estate planning experts who focus on LifeCare Planning, we will ensure that your intentions as to your health care and end of life decisions are clear for your loved ones.
What Do Families Fight Over?
Many times, families do not fight over the money left behind from an estate, they fight over what their loved one “really” wanted. The family wants to be sure they carry out your wishes, but they have different ideas of what your wishes are. Medical directives and powers of attorney grant legal authority to those you choose to make health care, legal and financial decisions for you, but they generally do not provide instructions on how to use that authority, which often leads to family controversy and frustration.
Finally, a trust, when properly done, can be used as your instructions to your family members and can lead to the granting of authority and the proper instructions to loved ones of how to use it; that is, to ensure what you want to have happen actually occurs when you are not there to do it yourself. However, most of the typical revocable living trusts that we see on a daily basis, and other documents used by Michigan lawyers, only address some of the issues, but rarely address the more difficult issues that can lead to the destruction of families.
The Next Step…
If you really want to protect your family, you are the only one who can do it. But first you must get educated on the options you have available and how to ensure your family know your instructions. These instructions help to prevent the heartbreak resulting from one of your loved ones having to make decisions whether you live or die, without knowing what your wishes truly were. To learn more, join us for one of our FREE LifeCare Planning Workshops. We promise that time will fly, you’ll learn a lot, and have a little bit of fun. To sign up for a LifeCare Planning Workshop click here.
And remember, the next time you wonder what estate planning is all about, it’s simple, it’s all about family!
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