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ARE YOU READY TO DEAL WITH UNCOMFORTABLE ESTATE PLANNING QUESTIONS?

Nov 3 2016

Let’s face it, even basic estate planning can be emotionally draining. But what happens when you have to deal with some of the more uncomfortable aspects associated with this activity? The more prepared you are up front, the better equipped you’ll be to handle them when they arise. But what exactly does this refer to? It’s coming to terms with the notion of making some difficult decisions about your own death and the circumstances that may surround it.

For example, if both you and your partner happen to die in a car accident together, who do you want raising your children? If you have pets, what will happen to them? And does your will include provisions for all the important relationships in your life? Are there people that have been left out? Unintentionally or otherwise, if this is the case, it can be the cause of serious estate litigation issues down the road, not to mention the emotional and financial implications that result as well.

What about your health? Do you have a Representation Agreement (often referred to as a “living will” or a “health directive”)? This effectively tells the medical professionals who can make personal health care decisions on your behalf if you are rendered unable to make that decision on your own. Medical specialists are required – by law – to respect the wishes of whatever has been specified in these legal and binding documents.

Have you made large or significant donations to others? Gifts that your family may not be aware of? While disclosure is certainly a personal decision that must be made, there are both legal and tax implications for an estate that must be considered. So if you get asked, your legal professional isn’t being nosy. He or she is just being prudent.

Don’t forget your online life. Earlier this year, a Canadian woman was told by Apple to get a court order so that she could access her late husband’s iPad. He had passed away without sharing his password information and Apple’s stringent privacy policy prevented them from sharing his account with anyone without his permission. In the end, while Apple eventually did allow her access – without the court order – this scenario speaks to the bigger issue of the importance of making sure someone knows how to access your online accounts should you pass away. This includes passwords, user names and security questions.

By being prepared to handle all aspects of an estate plan – including answering some of the more difficult questions – you and your legal representative are better prepared to come up with a plan that will ensure everyone is taken care of and there is minimal disruption when it comes to carrying out your wishes.

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