A father in his 70s gave his daughter a file he titled “financial love letter.” The file contained the father’s Will and other instructions regarding his wishes should he die or become incapacitated. Over the years, the father provided updates and additional details.
The daughter, who wrote about the financial love letter in an article for Business Insider, said she and her sister discussed the letter and agreed that, while it’s “morbid” to think about their father dying, they were happy he decided to give them the letter.
“There is no gray area about who gets which assets, or what percentage of his estate,” the daughter wrote. “I’m not going to have to debate with my sister about whether he wants resuscitation or extended care if he is in a vegetative state or has reached the end stages of a degenerative condition — he told us.”
Just as the daughter was inspired by her father’s financial love letter to update her own estate plan, the attorneys at Timothy Rice Estate & Elder Law hope others are also inspired by the father’s letter.
Estate Planning as a Love Language
By creating a Will, trust, advanced health care directive and other estate planning documents, you are telling your family that you care about them. Here’s how estate planning shows your love:
- Minimizes Uncertainty: By communicating to your loved ones what you want for your health care, end-of-life care and after death, you are sparing them guesswork. These are tough choices for anyone to make. But you know yourself best, so you’re in the best position to shoulder this burden instead of leaving it to your loved ones during an emotional time.
- Reduces Sibling Rivalry: Disagreements between heirs over a parent’s health care or how assets should be distributed after death are not uncommon. When the decisions are made in advance, it lessens the chance that siblings will fight over them.
- Protects Young Children: Without a guardian designated in a Will or a trust to protect a minor’s financial interests, decisions about a young child’s care could be left to a court to decide. Same holds true for people with special needs and even pets. Estate planning ensures that those you care for are protected and looked after when you no longer can.
- Saves Money: Court battles, fees and taxes are all more likely when someone dies without an estate plan. The heirs end up paying those costs. While hiring an attorney to assist with estate planning can cost money, the investment now is both predictable and inexpensive compared to what your heirs may face if you die without an estate plan.
- Removes Stress: Minimizing uncertainty and sibling rivalry, protecting those you care about and saving them money will all help reduce stress for your loved ones during an already difficult time. Making life-and-death decisions on behalf of others and fighting with your siblings over inheritances are stressful. Alleviating even a fraction of that stress for your family shows them you love them.
- Creates Peace of Mind: With decisions already made, your family can feel at peace that they’ve carried out your wishes just as you wanted. Your estate planning frees them to focus on what really matters during tough times: caring for you, supporting each other and working through grief.