By Kelli Kiemle, AIF®, Director of Marketing and Client Experience
My husband and I recently completed our estate planning documents with a local attorney – check that off our list. We’d been talking about it for over the last year and a half; we needed to update everything since our second son was born. Prior to the birth of our first son, we had completed documents online, but things had changed. We wanted to make sure our wishes were clearly set out and our kids would be taken care of if something were to happen to us.
Super weird right? Talking about not being there is an interesting experience. As much as many people would like to avoid thinking or doing something about it, it’s the responsible thing to do. Having a plan will allow everything to run a lot more smoothly during a terrible time for your family and those you love. Again, this is not an easy conversation: Of necessity, it means tough, emotional discussions about financial matters and what you value most. And you may learn something about your spouse/partner!
Based on my experience, here are a few things to think about:
Making hard choices
Thinking over who will take on your responsibilities and life wishes after you are gone is a bit unsettling. We needed to decide on a primary and successor person to see to and safeguard our trust, our kids, our financials, and our medical decisions.
We are lucky to have close family and friends, but this could be a hard decision because you need to choose someone who is responsible, smart, and ultimately a person you absolutely trust. Luckily, my husband and I were on the same page with whom we would delegate, but I can see how that could be an issue between couples. I would suggest thinking about and discussing these items before you meet with an attorney.
Discussing emotional topics
The one big issue that “got” both my husband and me was one that we hadn’t talked about previously: What to do if we were incapacitated. I don’t think either of us had fully considered what that might look like; we hadn’t conveyed our preferences to each other. Our planning process prompted us to talk through all those what ifs: What we want to happen since we would be in charge of each other. Again, not something you discuss regularly but I’m glad we both know each other’s wishes.
One important lesson we learned: It’s okay if something changes and we need to appoint someone new to be a part of our formalized estate plan. It’s important to review your plan periodically to make sure the correct players are in place. Life and relationships change – and with that, estate plans need to reflect that.
This is my perspective – again, not as an advisor – just as a human who has plenty of experience in the financial world. I knew what the basic framework looked like, so we were prepared to have these discussions. But if you don’t know what to expect, most attorneys will give you a cheat sheet on decisions you will need to make. We had a great experience at TLD law with Jen Sawday. But whose services you use is far less important in the scheme of things: Just get it done.
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Halbert Hargrove Global Advisors, LLC (“HH”) is an SEC registered investment adviser located in Long Beach, California. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. Additional information about HH, including our registration status, fees, and services can be found at www.halberthargrove.com. This blog post is provided for informational purposes only and should not be considered personalized investment advice. All opinions or views reflect the judgment of the author and are not indicative of any one client experience.