How to handle sensitive estate planning situations

Estate planning is a delicate topic for many people. The foreseen death of loved ones carries a lot of heartache and the stress of decision-making during a difficult time. To minimize the burden on the entire family, I recommend the following action item list:

  • Determine who needs to be involved in the process.
  • Identify what planning is in place (collect and review all relevant documents).
  • Determine concerns and priorities of the relative and the family.
  • Evaluate the core needs of the relative and develop a core plan to handle them.
  • Identify any barriers or potential conflicts.
  • Evaluate the legal needs and implement an action plan to address issues, including asset protection and end-of-life planning.
  • Discover other resources the family might consider – hospice worker, MOLST forms, transition care expert, etc.
  • Determine whether the relative is legally competent to execute any legal documents that need to be updated or put in place before his/her death.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it should help focus those dealing with the impending loss so that after their loved one passes, less time is spent on these details and more time is spent honoring the life that was shared.