The Holidays: A Great Time to Get Together with Family and Talk About . . . Living Trusts?

The Holidays: A Great Time to Get Together with Family and Talk About . . . Living Trusts?

Let’s face it—there’s never a good time to talk about end-of-life issues—it’s an unpleasant topic at what is for most of us a very pleasant time of the year. In the midst of all of the festivities, who wants to talk about death and dying with aging parents whom you seldom get to see? Yet, having this conversation is one of the most thoughtful things you can do for your family.

A Living Trust provides peace of mind

A Living Trust is a legal document that contains instructions for what you want to happen to your assets when you die. It means that when your parents die, all of their affairs will be in order, they will have transferred all of their assets into the Living Trust and identified their heirs. Without this Living Trust, the estate goes into Probate.

What’s so bad about Probate?

Probate is expensive and takes time to resolve, generally from nine months to two years, depending on the complexity of the estate. If there is property in another state or country, this requires its own separate Probate. When family members die, you will be dealing with so many other issues, including things like selling the old family home, dealing with your own grief and that of your family members. Furthermore, your inheritance will be diminished by court costs and attorney fees and you will be spending endless hours in legal proceedings at a very emotional time.

Creating an Advance Healthcare Directive

Another important part of end-of life-planning, an Advance Healthcare Directive specifies what actions should be taken for your health if you are no longer able to make decisions for yourself because of illness or incapacity. We all like to think that we’re going to age gracefully and die peacefully in our sleep at a ripe old age, but the reality is that people have massive strokes, fall into comas and have debilitating accidents. Planning ahead and creating an Advance Healthcare Directive makes it easier for your family to care for you if an unfortunate situation arises.

One more thing: Financial Power of Attorney

We also suggest that families appoint a Financial Power of Attorney, a written authorization to represent or act on another’s behalf. As people age, it’s not unusual for their memories to fade and their thinking to become unclear. The time often comes when they can no longer pay their own bills, interact with their healthcare providers and insurance representatives and other professionals—yet it’s critical that they continue these services. Having a trusted family member or friend step in as Financial Power of Attorney means that the services and care that aging parents require will seamlessly continue.

If you’ve been procrastinating about getting a Living Trust for yourself or your family, visit one of the California Document Preparers offices to get started.