May is National Etiquette Month, and the goal is to encourage all people to act with consideration, respect, and honesty in their interactions with others in their everyday lives.
Etiquette can also play a role in estate planning. A well-crafted estate plan ensures that your client’s wishes are respected and that their loved ones are taken care of. Estate planning can also address what happens if your client becomes ill and is unable to make decisions for themselves prior to death. Good manners and decorum can help minimize potential conflicts and disputes that may arise among family members during the planning process. As such, it is important to observe proper etiquette when planning and executing an estate plan to ensure a smooth and peaceful transition of your client’s money and property to their loved ones. This involves communicating openly and honestly with family members about the plan and considering their feelings and opinions. Showing respect and sensitivity to family members can prevent future potential legal challenges that could arise from disagreements.
The following are some ways that a client can create a solid estate plan by incorporating the key elements of etiquette.
An estate plan can create a sense of stability and calm in times of loss or uncertainty. No matter what level of wealth your client may currently enjoy, if they do not leave detailed instructions for the type of medical care they want, they will be putting those they love most in the position of being mind readers. Their trusted decision makers, or family members, will have to do their best to figure out what your client would have wanted and then deal with the consequences, such as unhappy family members who disagree with them. A well-crafted estate plan shows consideration for their loved ones by preventing confusion about what to do and helping them avoid the pressure to make rushed choices.
Additionally, a carefully prepared estate plan can allow a client to customize a plan that provides for their loved ones in a unique way that takes into consideration their loved one’s personal circumstances. Their loved ones can find solace in the love and consideration their deceased loved one showed them by ensuring that their estate plan was not just a one-size-fits-all document.
Another way the client can demonstrate consideration in an estate plan is by carefully considering who they are choosing as their trusted decision makers. Each role in an estate plan is important and is best handled by individuals with the right skills. When a client chooses their decision maker, it is important that they pick the right person for the job and that the person they are choosing can handle the responsibilities. In some instances, the person may not be able—not for a lack of skill, but because their plate is already full. Choosing an already overcommitted loved one could leave them feeling burdened and resentful during a time when they need to be grieving the client’s loss.
Estate planning makes it easier for your client’s loved ones to respect the client’s wishes because their loved ones know exactly what your client wants. Trust-based estate plans can respect your client’s and their loved ones’ right to privacy by keeping private matters out of the public eye. Without a comprehensive trust-based estate plan, your client’s estate may need to go through court in a proceeding called probate. This means that their choices become visible to the public, as does any information that needs to be filed with the court (like a list of everything they owned).
An estate plan can bring a family together. News stories are rife with examples of beneficiaries arguing over a deceased loved one’s money and property or instances of a person’s care and end-of-life wishes being ignored. An estate plan can avoid those types of emotionally draining situations. Encourage your client to communicate their wishes for end-of-life care to their loved ones. While creating an advance directive document like a healthcare power of attorney is important, it is equally essential that they have open and honest conversations with their loved ones about their wishes. These conversations can be difficult, but they can provide clarity and peace of mind for everyone involved. And these discussions can provide a wonderful opportunity for your client to show those same people how much your client cares for them and appreciates them while strengthening the bonds of family love. Many people also take the opportunity to write something personal to their family members – passing along hopes, dreams, stories, and wisdom.
By crafting an estate plan that is considerate of one’s loved ones, respectful of privacy, and honest about wishes for care and end-of-life decisions, your client can ensure that their wishes are carried out in the most respectful and dignified manner possible. If you are interested in learning more about Gunderson Law Group‘s estate planning process, please reach out to meet with us.
Adam practices primarily in the areas of business and family-based immigration, trusts and estate planning, and business planning. Contact Adam today at 480-750-7337 or by email at email@example.com.