Grandma always said that well mannered people don’t talk about money. According to her, doing so is tacky and in poor taste, but it is something we do every day. And it is something we wish more people would do, both with their family members and with an experienced estate planning attorney.
Everyone Needs An Estate Plan, Not Just Rich Folks
Making money a taboo topic means a lot of people have misconceptions about wealth. For example, in our line of work we talk to a lot of people who believe estate planning is only for rich people. That’s not just wrong, it’s potentially dangerous. In Mississippi, as in other states, if you die without a will, the government will decide what happens to your assets, and more importantly, who gets custody of your children.
Who Gets Custody
Anyone with a child should get an estate plan, no matter how much money they make. Not doing so puts the fate of your most valuable possession in the hands of a judge who does not know your kids and does not have time to get to know them or the people vying to be their guardian.
If you are no longer in a relationship with your child’s other biological parent, and he or she does not have a relationship with your child, he or she could still swoop in after your death and take custody. Your ex’s family members could attempt to do the same thing. The best way to prevent this from happening is to create an estate plan that nominates guardians who will take custody of your children should the unthinkable happen.
When The Unthinkable Happens
People without children should get an estate plan as well. Proper estate plans do more than dictate what you hope will happen when you die. A good plan will also include power of attorney documents and an advance health-care directive, which are of great help should you become incapacitated.
A power of attorney document gives your designee the ability to act and make decisions on your behalf. You can nominate someone to make health-care or financial and legal decisions for you in the future, and give them some guidance on how you would make such decisions if you were able to do so.
An advance health-care directive tells your loved ones and your health-care providers how you wish to be treated if you cannot make such decisions for yourself. If you do not want to be put on a ventilator or resuscitated, you can say that. If you want the doctors to do everything practical to keep you alive as long as possible, no matter what state you are in, you can say that. You can be as specific as you want and say exactly what you want in your directive. It takes a lot of pressure off of your loved ones if they are ever in a situation where they are asked to make decisions about your care if you have created a legal document telling them what you would prefer.
Bending The Rules
Grandma is right about a lot of things, but she should be a bit more flexible about the whole not talking about money thing. It’s still in poor taste at dinner parties, but it should be encouraged in the legal context. If you are ready to break the taboo and talk to an estate planning attorney about your end of life plans, we are ready to listen. Please contact us and schedule a free initial consultation at our office in Brandon.