Every family has its own approach when it comes to talking about financial and legal information. Minnesota wills and trusts lawyers see everything from very open and transparent situations to those where discussions of money are considered taboo. In reality, families which are at the estate planning phase should be having at least some superficial conversations about these topics, as there is significant information which needs to be shared just to make the estate plan work smoothly.
In many families, it is not unusual for one spouse to have a significant influence over financial and legal affairs. This may be the person who routinely handles all or the majority of the day to day household finances and takes care of the home organization. Yet, just because one spouse is more knowledgeable about family finances doesn’t mean the other spouse shouldn’t be involved in the estate planning process at all.
At a minimum, the other spouse needs to know where and how to access important legal and financial documents. The health care directives, powers of attorney, deeds, wills and trusts, and financial and insurance papers should all be accessible with short notice by either spouse. Likewise, both need to have legal access and keys to any safe deposit boxes and combinations to home safes.
Along those same lines, children (especially grown children) may also need to be able to access those same documents in case of emergency or death. It is not uncommon for parents to name a child as the Personal Representative of a will or Trustee of a trust. When doing so, it is highly recommended to talk this over with the person you’ve chosen. You want to be sure he or she is willing and able to carry out the tasks properly when the time comes.
Again, this person will need access to your important financial documents. The amount of information you disclose about what is in the financial documents is up to you, but it might be a good idea to at least give the executor a heads up about what to expect.
Powers of Attorney, Health Care Directives, Etc.
Just as it is important to talk to your future executor about your plans, you also want to have some important discussions with those you choose to have power of attorney over your affairs should you become incapacitated under a financial power of attorney or a Health Care Directive. These individuals will be in charge of your finances, but more importantly, they can be in charge of your health and well-being.
You’ll want to ensure these people are not only willing to take on the responsibility, but you have thoroughly discussed your wishes with them. Your medical directives are a great place to lay out many of your concerns and desires, but actually talking to your Health Care Agent can give him or her a better understanding of what you want and why. This can make decisions easier on their part when a certain treatment, procedure, or other choice falls into a “gray area” which you didn’t specifically discuss.
The Perfect Way to Share Information
Estate planning lawyers can help you determine what legal and financial information truly needs to be shared with your family. At Lewis Kannegieter Law, Ltd. we off the exclusive The Total Estate Planning Organizer, written by Jennifer, this comprehensive 200+ page workbook designed to provide one location for any and all information your agents and loved ones may need to know. This is the ultimate tool in collecting, organizing, and communicating all important information and will save your loved ones considerable time, money, and stress. Contact us today if you wish to learn more about this amazing resource.