It’s hard to believe that next week will be the 4th of July. Summer is really flying by. If you haven’t already left, you may be heading out of town to visit family or maybe, like me, family is coming to visit you. These gatherings with our parents or children often provide an opportunity that doesn’t normally exist of having the family together in one place. While not wanting to cast a shadow over your fun, this may be a great opportunity to let your family know what you have done in terms of estate planning. We strongly recommend that our Clients inform their children about the decisions they have made and the people they have put in charge. This can go a long way toward eliminating surprises and heading off disputes. So if appropriate, we encourage you to take some time while you are together with your family to explain what decisions you have made.
One other note about vacations, one question that I am always asked is, “What do I do with my estate planning documents now that they are signed?” It is vital that the original documents be safeguarded. If a probate (court) action is ever required, the court may not accept a photocopy and your wishes may be frustrated. Estate planning documents need to be stored safely, yet be available, when needed. You can read more about where to store your documents here. Regardless of where your documents are stored, it is important that the people you have put in charge know where they are, and how to access them. So, if the documents are in a safe, do they know the combination or where to obtain it? As you head out on vacation, do the people you have put in charge know where to find and how to get access to your health care power of attorney, living will, durable power of attorney, or other plan documents if needed? We sure hope you are safe out there, but if something happens, please make sure people know where these important documents are and how to get at them. Also, make sure they know the name and contact information of your attorney, who should have a copy of all documents. You have done too much work to prepare a good estate plan, don’t let the fact that it can’t be found or accessed thwart your wishes.