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Addressing uncomfortable questions in estate planning an important thing to do, P.1

A large part of doing estate planning is knowing the right questions to ask. Sometimes these questions can be uncomfortable, but asking them is the first step to coming up with strategies to address them.

For many people, one of the most important questions that will come up is who will take care of the children if you and your spouse die. Selecting a guardian can be a fairly easy process when both spouses agree, but when they can’t agree the decision can be postponed indefinitely. Failing to name a guardian will force a court to do so, and a judge may not necessarily choose who you would choose.

Another important question in estate planning, at least from an estate planning attorney’s perspective, is whether there are any other important relationships to get out on the table. This can include uncomfortable questions about extramarital affairs, previous marriages, secret marriages, and so on. It is important for people to get these relationships on the table during estate planning so the rights and responsibilities attached to them are addressed.

End of life issues can present another set of uncomfortable questions. For instance, how hard do you want your family to fight for your life in an emergency medical situation? Do you want them to make use of certain extraordinary means of keeping you alive, or not? Setting up a health care directive and appointing a medical power of attorney is a very important part of estate planning.

In our next post, we’ll look at several other uncomfortable questions you may want to address in estate planning.

Source: Forbes, “12 Estate Planning Questions That Might Make You Squirm,” Deborah L. Jacobs, July 24, 2012