After Estate Planning In California, Consider A ‘Family Meeting’

When parents in Los Angeles sit down to craft their estate plan, they often do so with their children in mind. Their will or trust may name their children as beneficiaries of their estate, either to provide the kids with financial security while they are young or to give them a leg up when they are adults.

Once in place, the estate plan may sit for years before a sudden illness or death may make it relevent. But sometimes, the children or spouse may not know anything about the plan, possibly delaying or complicating a long-term care plan or distribution of the your estate. This often occurs when the testator does not communicate his or her wishes because he does not want to “worry” his or her family.

In one example, a man worked with attorneys to develop an estate plan that reflected his wishes for after his passing. But when, years later, he became seriously ill, his three children did not know what his plan was or even where the documents could be found. With the father incapacitated, an uncomfortable but important discussion never happened.

For those who have created an estate plan, a next step to consider is to sit down your spouse, children or other close family members to explain your wishes. Involve your estate planning attorney so that your family has the chance to ask questions and understand what is in your plan so that there will not be confusion or inappropriate decisions later. Few enjoy talking to a parent about their mortality, but an hour or so today can help reduce one source of stress later.

Source: Gazette Newspapers, “ESTATE PLANNING: Plan A Family Meeting,” Curtis Kaiser, April 8, 2013