Thankful for Time: Estate Planning and Thanksgiving

Written by Robert T. Nickerson

Let’s see: You’ve made your travel plans, figured out whose going to bring what dish and it’s time to visit that loved one for Thanksgiving. But when you get there, it’s clear that the loved one isn’t getting any younger and is going to need help at some point. I say take the day to watch one of many football games and maybe even the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. But the next day should remind you that time cannot be replaced, and should be used to consider what kind of plan to make. It’ll be something to be thankful for the next year.
An estate plan is more then a glorified will. An estate plan is also going to have several documents that will set things. Some of them will include; 

  1. Financial Power of Attorney: This will designate who will pay the bills and settle debts.
  2. Health Care Power of Attorney: This sets up who will make medical decisions in the case one is incapacitated.
  3. Living Will: This creates the ability for one to be taken off of life support.

Ask the loved one if they’ve created an estate plan with similar documents. If they answer yes, take a look at them to see if their up to date (which is a mistake people have made). If everything looks good, then you won’t have to do much work and can relax. If not, work with them to set up a meeting with an estate planning attorney. 
While your having a bite of the mashed potatoes at the Thanksgiving table, you might be asking yourself, “As the one in charge of the financial power of attorney, what responsibilities do I have?”.
What this means is your going to be in charge of making the financial decisions for the loved one whose agreed to put you in that position. It’s not just for medical related finances, but it can also fall under general finances should they not be in a position to make reasonable decisions. The documents for financial power of attorney will also lay out if those powers are immediate or delayed for something more urgent. 
Some other responsibilities could revolve around purchasing real estate, paying bills and taxes, acquiring insurance, representing them in a court of law, going into personal records and even applying for government benefits. 
Just as your about to help yourself into some stuffing, you may realize your not the only one concerned. Do you have a sibling? Their probably thinking about that loved one as well. They may have been selected for health care power of attorney.
What do they do? A health care power of attorney will be responsible for making healthcare decisions if the loved one is unable to. By being “unable” is within the condition of not being able to communicate on their own due to an ailment. They’ll also be selecting the medical care they feel will benefit the loved one the best and also make life decisions should they be given a recommendation by a doctor. This is understandably putting a lot of pressure and you should be sure the person in charge of health care is ready for that kind of responsibility. 
In conclusion, thinking over these two aspects will give you something to be thankful for as these things are never easy. Once accomplished, then you’ll have a clear understanding on your loved one’s plans and it’ll proceed. You can now spend the rest of your Thanksgiving having some pumpkin pie, watch the game, and maybe the airing of Home Alone

Leave a Reply