One of the questions a lot of our older clients struggle with is what to do with their jewelry and watches. Many of these items are beautiful, costly and hold emotional significance for their owners -- so they want their heirs to inherit the pieces. At the same time, they don't want to start a family feud because somebody didn't get "Mom's pearls" or "Grandma's ring" after they were gone.
Most of the time, parents try to be fair to their children -- even after those children are grown. Therefore, it's natural for parents to be concerned about how to divide their assets in their wills for their adult children.
There are a lot of reasons that people put off writing their wills. Maybe they've simply never thought about -- or maybe they don't want to think about dying.
A man came in to talk to me last week, and he said that his own parents had made some serious estate planning mistakes. Now in his 40s with children of his own, he wanted to avoid those errors.
The unfortunate reality is that life could take a turn that makes it impossible for you to communicate your medical wishes to your family or healthcare professionals. You could suffer a stroke or get in a car accident, for instance. You still want the doctors to know what type of care to provide, and you can use an advance directive to give them instructions.
I was working with a client recently who had just gotten divorced. He wanted to update his estate plan to make sure that all of his ex-wife's rights to his estate had actually been terminated. Naturally, if he passed away, he did not want to leave her his money and physical property. He wanted it to go to his children.
I recently worked with a client who was very concerned about the lack of privacy with a will. After all, these documents are public record. After you pass away, anyone can technically look at a copy of that will.
If you want to prevent your children from fighting over your estate after you pass away, one of the best things you can do is to sit down and have a conversation with them. Tell them about your plans. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
A man called me last year to find out more about estate planning. I told him about some of the options he had, and he said he would call me back. He jokingly assured me that he would not need the estate plan any time soon, so he would get to it later.
It doesn't matter if you are going through the estate planning process for the first time or have been down this path before, nothing changes the fact that you need to avoid any and every mistake.