As our families grow, the change can be exciting but it should also be a reminder to keep plans updated. As we age, whether we are grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles or parents with small children, we should create or update our estate plans and long-term care plans.
Many people are resistant to having a conversation about estate planning or long term care plans but it’s important to talk to your loved ones so they will know what to do when the time comes. Follow the five steps below to help avoid any conflicts and to make the conversation go smoothly.
Set a time. Sometimes the most difficult part is scheduling the family meeting. If everyone lives in different cities, find an event or occasion where you will all be together and schedule the time then.
Set an agenda—even if it’s informal. The conversation can change directions so it’s a good idea to try and follow an outline to keep the discussion on topic. It can be helpful if one person prepares notes so everyone knows what has already been discussed and what is still to come.
Not everyone will agree or might be surprised that a family member has expectations for them so be prepared for issues that may arise. Once the plan has been laid out and modified if necessary, then go around the table and ask each person for their verbal commitment to support the plan.
Your plan will most likely require some interim steps to prepare for future events. Be sure you create action steps, a timeline for completion and assign them to specific persons to complete.
It could be years before this plan goes into effect so make sure and put it in writing and provide everyone with a copy of it. As action steps are completed or things change be sure the plan is modified accordingly and again distributed to everyone. If necessary, have another family meeting. Be sure all relevant advisors such as attorneys, insurance agents and financial planners are consulted to update the plan accordingly.
No one enjoys thinking about long-term care and our declining years but it’s important that we all have a plan in place.