Clients often ask me, “Do you do like they do in the movies, where the attorney sits with the family and reads the will after someone dies?” I tell them that I never do that after someone dies. Most clients then respond, looking puzzled, “You don’t?” I then explain that while I never do the “reading of the will,” I do suggest to every client that they consider, when appropriate, to engage in a meaningful discussion about the estate plan while everyone is alive and well.
I feel that clients are not only asking me to help them to prepare a Will or Trust and leave a legacy, they are asking me to help speak for them when they no longer can. I hold this as a serious responsibility, as conversations can be difficult enough when everyone is here.
Who should attend an estate planning meeting? You; the people you appointed to carry out your wishes; when appropriate, the beneficiaries; and your professional advisors, such as the financial advisor, estate planning attorney and accountant.
What should be talked about during this meeting? First, you will want to explain your intent and meaning in establishing this plan. In other words, the “why” of the plan. Second, you should talk about how you would like to be cared for during periods of incapacity. And third, you will want to express your wishes for care should you find yourself in an end of life situation.
Don’t believe everything you see in the movies. Even death takes planning.
Stephen B. Yim, Attorney at Law
2054 S. Beretania St., Hon.