This blog was written by Justin Ecclestone, Estate and Trust Consultant with Scotia Wealth Management
In the estate planning world we come across people from many different walks of life with unique stories. I have noticed that clients tend to focus all their attention on the will while the powers of attorney are often an after thought. A strong estate plan is much more than an updated will. Having a valid will that effectively articulates the distribution of the estate is needed but ensuring clients have a strong plan in the event of their own incapacity is vital.
As many of us in the estate planning community have seen, not taking the necessary time and thought to plan for incapacity can drastically affect the estate and the size of gifts to beneficiaries.
Communicating with those who stand to benefit from the estate in advance of both incapacity and death avoids surprises in the future. When the testator dies, loved ones are left wondering about the thought process at the time the documents were drafted. What may be clear to the individual at the time the documents were executed might be completely puzzling to beneficiaries on death. Communication in advance is everything.
The conversations in life help to uncover associated value with certain items and possessions. It can be amazing to witness how important certain contents can be to loved ones. It is generally not about the item itself but more about the memories attached.
I have seen a situation where two children wanted dad’s baseball glove. It was equally important to both kids to have this glove. What we later found out was that before their father passed, playing catch with his children and grandchildren was an activity that he relished. Those memories made late in their father’s life were extremely important – hence the associated value with the glove. The impact that one can make on someone else’s life can rarely be understood until after death. It was much more than a baseball glove. These were the last memories of their father.