Holidays and families seem to go together, even when things are not perfect. For example, as Molly looked across a holiday table surrounded by family, she worried about their futures. Her son was there with his daughter, who was intellectually disabled. Molly’s daughter arrived with her second husband and the two children from her first marriage. Her younger son seemed to be doing okay, except that he often borrowed money from her. Molly wondered how her family would survive after she was gone. Would they make the right decisions and have the support they needed? She decided it was time to talk to her family about estate planning.

Talk About Your Estate Planning

An estate plan doesn’t just affect you – your family’s future also may depend on it. While it is not necessary, or even a good idea, to discuss every detail of your estate plan, your family needs to know the following:

  • The name and contact information of your estate planning attorney;
  • Where your estate planning documents, both originals and copies, are kept; and
  • As much of your plan as you feel comfortable talking about.

You could meet with your family as a group. However, if your Will contains anything that might be upsetting, you might consider meeting with your family individually. In addition to your own plans, you could use this time to discuss another important topic – their plans.

Talk About Their Estate Planning

Since every adult needs to have an estate plan, this may be the perfect opportunity to encourage your family members to do their own. A basic estate plan typically consists of the following documents:

  • A Last Will and Testament,
  • A durable power of attorney, and
  • Some form of advanced directive, like a health care power of attorney and living Will.

Estate plans are not just about death, though. A durable power of attorney names someone who may act on your behalf in legal and financial affairs if you become incapacitated. An advanced directive allows you to name someone to make medical decisions for you if necessary.

Trusts are also an option, with a revocable living trust being one way to transfer assets quickly to family members by avoiding probate. Also, trusts can address specific situations in your family.

For example, Molly’s son has a child with special needs. In addition to basic estate planning, he may establish a special needs trust for her future care. Molly’s daughter may use a trust to protect her children’s inheritance if she passes away before her second husband. And Molly’s youngest son should have his own basic estate planning, but Molly may also want to establish a spendthrift or discretionary trust to protect his inheritance.

Do You Need to Talk to Your Family About Your Estate Planning?

First, you need to actually have an estate plan! For a free consultation with an experienced Alabama estate planning attorney, contact us at 256-472-1900. Miller Estate and Elder Law is now located at 818 Leighton Avenue in Anniston, but we serve clients in Gadsden, Hoover, Talladega, Vestavia Hills, and surrounding areas.