In a recent meeting with a client, we were deep in conversation about estate planning. The client mentioned she had a few final wishes she wanted to be carried out. She asked if these wishes needed to be written into one of her legal documents. While I am not an attorney, I was able to lend her some simple advice.
Most of what our estate planning documents convey is the legal transfer of assets and how those assets will be managed into the future, along with the designation of control persons to assist in navigating the transfer of those assets. But, what our documents usually do not convey are simple wishes, such as where you want to be buried, what type of service/ceremony you desire, or even how you want to be remembered.
These desires don’t need to be included in any legal document, but they should be known by those you care about. A simple written note can be held with all legal documents conveying your wishes. This document can go a long way to help those you love in a difficult time.
Imagine this: a young son (say age 28) has to handle his father’s untimely death at the age 60. The last thing the son will want to do is try to navigate difficult decisions. Does my dad want to be cremated? Where should I bury Dad? Should we have a large service or a small private gathering? And, the most frightening question: where do I start?
All of these questions could be answered with a simple note attached to your estate planning documents. Financial and contact information for those associated with your financial affairs will be welcomed by those close to you. The phone number for the estate planning attorney who drafted your legal forms will assure your loved ones that a call to this attorney is a good place to start. As a fee-only advisor, I am fortunate that my clients feel comfortable including my contact information in their list. I understand my clients very well and have been honored to assist during difficult times.
Our loved ones will be dealing with a difficult situation. They will be grieving your loss, but we don’t want to make a difficult situation any worse than it needs to be. Help them by letting your desires be known. Your loved ones will thank you!