As a Baby Boomer traveling the evolutionary path of - son - husband - parent - grandparent - son of aging parents, and - future aging parent - I have experienced and understand every family dynamic and the relationship and responsibility among multiple generations. I encourage each generation to have a conversation with their parents and adult children because a defective plan at one generation can be burdensome on the other generations. Since my sister and I have a Medical Power of Attorney and HIPAA Authorization from my mother, we can easily take care of her medical needs, medical bills, and emergency room admissions. My clients agree that viewing their “estate plan” as a GENERATIONAL PLAN creates a clear and reasonable purpose.
I find that a great majority of people think of "estate planning" simply in terms of having a Will. However, a Will only becomes effective at death and has no impact on assets with beneficiary designations such as life insurance policies, IRA's, 401(k)'s, and survivorship or pay on death accounts, which are non-probate assets. An updated Will does not accomplish a client's goals if the beneficiary designations still include an ex-spouse. A Will ignores the essential PLANNING necessary to address contingencies and unexpected life events such as illness, incapacity, disability, end of life decisions, or funeral PLANNING. A Will that directs that you wish to be cremated does not do much good if your Will is not located until a week after your burial. I believe that GENERATIONAL PLANNING involves a coordinated understanding of all of your risk management decisions by an attorney that has the education, knowledge, and experience to work with your financial planner, CPA, insurance agents, and other planning professionals in order to minimize the risk of potential planning gaps or errors. PLANNING requires a clear understanding of community property and separate property and the laws of intestate succession. See, Intestacy
WARNING: If you die without a Will or Trust that express YOUR PLAN, the State of Texas will create a STATUTORY PLAN for the management and distribution of your property and guardianship of your children.
BLENDED FAMILIES BEWARE.
I believe that a properly executed PLAN should be more than a set of documents locked in a safe deposit box for decades. A PLAN should incorporate a living SYSTEM of review and coordination with your other planning professionals. A SYSTEM includes a list of logins and passwords for financial accounts, and identification of all digital assets such as web sites, Facebook, LinkedIn, and e-mail. A SYSTEM should include medical information to identify doctors and medications for you, your parents, and your children. A SYSTEM should include a contact list of people who should know of an illness or death in the family. A SYSTEM should understand that in times of crisis or stress, somebody needs to quickly understand you and your intentions with the ability to implement a PLAN of action. A SYSTEM fills in your planning gaps and replaces speculation and confusion with a much greater degress of certainty.
In the end, I believe that a comprehensive view of a GENERATIONAL PLANNING SYSTEM expands the traditional view of estate planning and opens a client up to a greater understanding of their planning objectives.
QUESTIONS: Who would contact your extended family, high school friends, or college roommates if you were to become ill or pass away? Who would be upset if they were uninformed and missed your funeral?