Is there ever an ideal time to discuss important matters with family members? When a family member wants to talk about topics such as who should have power of attorney, the location of our living will, questions about estate planning, or other family issues, the most likely response is " You're right it's important, but now is not a good time. Let's talk later." And too frequently "later" never comes and then it's too late. The fact is anytime is a good time to discuss these important issues and with e-mail and other communications tools, family members don't have to even be in the same room or run up a big phone bill.
Because these are often sensitive conversations, however, people may want to be together, reducing the likelihood of a misinterpretation or someone getting their feelings hurt.
Whatever meeting format you choose, just know there is no time like right now for settling issues such as: "How will the bills be paid while Dad is in the hospital?" "Has Bob designated a durable power of attorney?" "Where is Mom's will?" "Who was supposed to get Grandma's wedding ring?" "Has anybody found the key to the safe deposit box?" "Was Aunt Clara really promised the good crystal?"
There are at least three advantages to discussing these important family matters as soon as possible:
- Parents can explain their decisions and concerns about their estate plans and keep their loved ones in the loop
- Other family members can express their own desires and concerns.
- Such discussions can strengthen family bonds, bringing loved ones closer together, and avoiding misunderstandings
And don't just do it once. Try to update the conversations and the decisions on an annual basis, or whatever time frame is most appropriate for a given set of circumstances
Family Matters Discussion Checklist
Here is a recommended checklist of topics to cover. (Feel free to copy and use it in your family meeting, adding items as needed.) All adult family members should be encouraged to complete it before meeting. Then use each item as a platform for discussion.
- Do I have an updated will? (All adults should have one, not just senior family members.)
- Are there specific family heirlooms I would like to receive someday (or give to a specific family member)? These decisions can be included in your will.
- Do I have guardians for minor children?
- Do I have a durable power of attorney?
- Do I have a living will and medical power of attorney? You have a legal right to specify the level of care you wish to receive if you are incapacitated. Most of all, you can designate the individuals responsible for making such decisions.
- Are my life insurance, pension, IRA and annuity beneficiary designations current?
- Are all my important documents in one place, such as a safe deposit box? Are designated family members' names on the signature card?
- Do I have a list of important information, such as bank and other account numbers, life insurance policies, retirement accounts, and other assets, along with the names and contact information of my attorney, accountant, New York Life agent, and other professionals?
- Do I need to contact my attorney to update my will, or my New York Life agent to review my life insurance and other plans?
Sometimes it’s difficult to have the answers to any of these questions at your fingertips. When it comes to your finances, few people have time to file all their paperwork. And yet it’s important to know where you can find your life insurance policy or will should an emergency arise. New York Life has a financial checklist and filing system that not only helps you organize what you have — it helps you identify what you may need down the road. It's called the LifeFolio System: Your Lifetime Financial Organizer. At no charge to you, a New York Life agent — professionally trained and experienced — can help you get on the road to financial organization and also assist you in analyzing your needs and recommending appropriate solutions through insurance and financial products and concepts. Request a no obligation review with a New York Life agent.
So how can you get a free LifeFolio kit? You can obtain a LifeFolio Checklist by simply calling a New York Life agent and requesting one. You'll receive the entire kit when you meet with an agent for a free consultation. Don't wait any longer. That stack of important papers is getting higher! Get LifeFolio and get organized.
This material is for informational purposes only, neither New York Life nor its agents provide tax, legal or accounting advice. Please consult your own tax, legal or accounting professionals before making any decisions.
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