Most people consider estate planning a necessary tool that allows individuals to control what happens to property and assets after their death. While asset distribution is an important aspect of planning for the future, it also allows people to plan for health care and medical needs in case of health complications. Over time, these documents may need adjustments and changes.
When creating health care powers of attorney, living wills and other documents, it is important to think carefully about the long-term implications of these decisions. For example, you may want to think about the relationships you have with your stepchildren and how these relationships could impact plans in the future. Including stepchildren and biological children in the same document could cause the potential for problems in the future.
Complex issues in complex family situations
Older children and stepchildren may not know each other well, but certain documents may name all of them together. For example, you may include all of your kids, even those from previous marriages, as health care proxies, but your adult children may not be able to or want to work together to care for their aging or incapacitated parents. These situations can lead to complex and expensive disputes if the biological children and stepchildren are at odds over what should happen.
Stepchildren and biological children are not the only family members who may be at odds over the care of a loved one. It is helpful and important for you to have honest conversations with your adult children about their preferences when it comes to providing help. It is also prudent to carefully review your estate planning documents, including both financial powers of attorney and health care documents. If changing beneficiaries or designations is important, doing this as soon as possible is prudent.
The right plans
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to estate planning. Health care planning and other documents are customizable according to your goals, objectives and preferences. When it comes to the future, you, your adult children and your stepchildren will benefit from plans that are clear, updated and cohesive with the individual needs of the family’s specific dynamics.
The future is unpredictable. This is why it is important for families move quickly to ensure elderly family members and aging parents have updated plans in place. As life changes, it is crucial to update existing documents and review long-term care plans.