Start Planning Your ‘Family Talk’

Family TalkWith the holidays fast approaching, it might be a good time to have that ‘talk’ with your aging parents about their estate plan.

Estate planning can be a tough topic because feelings and money get tied up. Money in many instances can conjure feelings of control (or lack of it), dignity, shame, fear, or a lack of confidence. Many conversations go south quickly. For example: if an adult son asks his mother if she and his father have recently updated their wills, he might be met with a response such as, "Why? Are you hoping we’ll die soon, so you can use your inheritance to finally pay off that huge mortgage we warned you not to take?"

You can see how these kinds of conversations can go downhill pretty fast, which is why everyone should resist the urge to take the bait that’s thrown out. Typically, that’s not the way it’s intended to work.

Rather than jumping into such a discussion with both eyes closed, think about just one issue to start—such as the re-titling of a bank account or making a beneficiary designation. This may help you get into a broader discussion on family finances and estate planning.

Once you get going with a meaningful discussion, ask your parents what goals they’re trying to accomplish, like making sure that assets are passed to the next generation and beyond … or are there concerns about an heir blowing all the money that’s left to him/her? Are there charities to remember in the estate plan?

Talking over these concerns with a qualified estate attorney can help you create an estate plan that addresses all of your issues and concerns. Remember that you’ll want to review your estate plan every few years.

The basic documents to draft with an estate planning attorney are a will (naming a guardian if you have minor children), a letter of instruction, a power of attorney, a health care proxy, and possibly one or more trusts. You want to have these documents ready before anything happens that requires using them.

It’s tough to start a conversation about these issues, but it’s a lot tougher than facing them unprepared.

Reference: Chicago Tribune (October 20, 2016) “Have the estate planning talk”


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We've been putting together as many resources as possible so that we can continue to help:

  • If you’re a current client with a signing appointment or a prospective client with a consultation and would prefer that meeting take place in your own home, we can accomplish that with a little bit of pre-planning on our part and with the addition of a laptop, smartphone, tablet or other computer in your home to facilitate this virtual meeting. For those of you that need to sign legal documents, that too can be accomplished with the use of a webcam (FaceTime etc.), so that we can witness and electronically notarize all of your important legal documents.
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Thank you, Walt and the Zaremba Team

Update to our Process

The unprecedented coronavirus pandemic has taken our entire country by surprise. We understand how difficult this time is for America’s businesses and families.  However, we believe it is vitally important that we make every effort possible to continue to offer solutions that avoid disrupting our important partnership with you, your family and friends.  As you know, estate planning is not something that should wait for a more convenient time, therefore the opportunity to address your important goals both during and after this crisis should not wait.  To that end, we have added the option of a ‘virtual consultation’ to our office process.  You will now have a choice of either meeting with us in our office or in the comfort of your own home.