You have a spouse, a daughter who is about to graduate college, two homes, three cars and an investment portfolio that keeps growing. You have an appointment with your attorney to talk about estate planning.
You have pulled together all the financial and real estate information you think your lawyer will need, but are you ready to discuss some sensitive subjects? Here are three that might come up in the conversation.
1. Large gifts
You may be helping a friend or relative financially, perhaps someone who is going through a rough patch or an elderly person with limited income. Although your spouse is not entirely on board with the help you are providing to an old army buddy, you continue to give him monthly checks. Let your attorney know of any financial help you have given to your buddy or anyone else. There may not be any tax consequences, but you must report gifts over a certain amount.
2. Important relationships
Even though you are married, your attorney may ask if you have a special relationship with anyone outside the marriage. If such a relationship exists, you need to be upfront about it because there could be legalities and possible bequests that need addressing in the estate plan. After you die, you do not want your family embroiled in a court battle involving a relationship they never knew existed.
3. Pulling the plug
When it comes to end-of-life matters, your estate plan will include a health care directive for you to sign, for use in the event that you become incapacitated and cannot speak for yourself. This will provide doctors and other health care professionals with your instructions as to when medical intervention should cease. This is a tough subject, but you will feel relieved once you fully address it.
Since sensitive subjects may come up in your estate planning meeting, you should not hesitate to ask questions about anything you do not understand. Your estate plan is not just about transferring assets, it is about making important decisions that everyone else can live with after you pass away.