5 Tough Estate Planning Questions You Should be Able to Answer

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Estate planning is something that most of us put off repeatedly due to our own discomfort with the idea of becoming disabled, mentally incompetent, or, well, dead. It’s definitely not a pleasant thing to think about, but unfortunately it is a reality that we will all eventually face. At least until something like ‘The Singularity‘ comes to fruition, anyway. 😉

While scientific and medical advances have impressively increased the human life expectancy, they have yet to discover a magical fountain of youth that will allow us to live forever. Thus, it’s important that you plan accordingly so that the family members who survive you will be appropriately cared for. For starters, you need to have answers to the following questions:

  1. Who will raise your children if you and your spouse both die unexpectedly?
    This question is one of the main reasons some people avoid making a will. The idea of someone else raising your children feels terribly sad! But, if you are a single parent or widow, it is even more important that you make plans for your children, in case anything happens to you while they are still minors. Even if you are married to your children’s other biological parent, it can be extremely difficult to agree on who to select to raise your kids if you both die at the same time. Although it may cause tension and even some arguments, it’s an important issue to push through so that your children’s future isn’t determined by a judge they’ve never met.
  2. Are there any important relationships in your life that you’ve kept secret?
    If you have a significant relationship with someone and would like that person to be cared for after your death, you must speak up about it before it’s too late. Oftentimes, attorneys will repeatedly ask clients if there are any relationships that you haven’t disclosed yet because of this very issue. In order to fully advise you about your obligations and rights, your attorney needs full disclosure.
  3. Have you frozen any of your genetic material?
    If you pass away with existing, viable frozen sperm, eggs or embryos, you’ll need to think about whether you want to provide for any children that may be conceived after your death.
  4. Do you have any family members that your attorney doesn’t know about?
    Perhaps you had a child out of wedlock years ago, or maybe your father had children with a woman other than your mother, giving you half-siblings. Regardless of your current relationship with them, be sure to alert your lawyer to their existence. Make it clear in your Estate Plan whether you want them to be included in your will or not, because the likelihood of them making a surprise entrance at your funeral – or at a later date – is high. It’s likely that their appearance will be stress-inducing for everyone involved, unless you take care of all of the details in your Estate Plan.
  5. At what point would you like to have the so-called “plug” pulled?
    Part of creating an Estate Plan includes writing a Health Care Directive, which essentially states at what point you feel that your quality of life is no longer worth holding onto, should you become critically ill. By setting out specific details about when you would like medical intervention to cease, you will give yourself more control over your end-of-life care.

Ultimately, creating your Estate Plan is your chance to set things into motion for your descendants and family members who survive you. As difficult as it may be to ponder, it’s that much more important that you push through the uncomfortable feelings and do it anyway.

 

Image credit: Dan Moyle

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4 Responses to 5 Tough Estate Planning Questions You Should be Able to Answer

  1. Pingback: Can I Write My Own Will in New Jersey? | Veitengruber Law

  2. Pingback: What to do After the Death of a Loved One | Veitengruber Law

  3. Pingback: Estate Planning Basics: What You Need to Know to Get Started | Veitengruber Law

  4. Pingback: Can I Write My Own Will or Should I Hire an Attorney? | Veitengruber Law

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