Attorney Lisa Rothman offers this article to express the important takeaway from the panel discussions produced by the Trusts, Estates, and Elder Law Team. Thank you Lisa for your insightful analysis. See her article below.
“Communication is the Key
Over the past year, the Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Team of McGuire Wood & Bissette, P.A. hosted four panel discussions focusing on the importance of estate and financial planning, aging well, planning for end of life decisions, and communicating well. Having attended these events, and serving as a moderator for one of them, a central theme emerged – communication is a key component of making and implementing plans in each of these areas.
As it is clear that communication is the key component to implementing the plans we have for ourselves, the Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Team hosted its final panel discussion of the year, Communicating Well, on Monday, November 6, 2017, in the Lenoir Rhyne Conference Room of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce. The panel focused on useful tips when raising and discussing these difficult topics with your family and advisors, pitfalls you may encounter, and the perils of what happens when these discussions are not faced in an open and frank manner.
When we talk about estate and financial planning, open and honest communication with your trusted advisors is imperative to create a plan that will serve as an effective roadmap as you move through various phases of your life. Communicating the nuances of your current financial situation, your future goals and the concerns you have, as well as the intimate details of your family dynamics, are critical to your advisors developing a plan that will provide for your care for the rest of your life, as well as carry out your wishes after you are gone. Once you have a plan, it is then imperative that the plan be communicated to your family and other loved ones. We do not always advocate for a full disclosure of all the details, but certainly the fact that decisions have been made, that there is a plan in place, and important contacts are almost always appropriate facts to disclose.
There is an increasing focus among the medical and elder care communities as well as the public at large to improve the quality of life for each of us as we age and face longer life expectancies than generations before. Communication with your medical providers and loved ones is key. Disclosing new symptoms, your fears, and your wishes are all important to develop a treatment plan, options for remaining in your home, and/or determining what additional services may be appropriate. When faced with difficult decisions it will be helpful if your medical team and loved ones understand your wishes long before critical decisions need to be made.
End of life decisions for ourselves or a loved one will be some of the most difficult we will ever face, but again communication is imperative. While the conversations are difficult, they can often help avoid family arguments, minimize regret or guilt for those that survive, and can ultimately ensure that your wishes are honored. It is important to communicate your wishes to your loved ones in advance of a critical situation. Whether it’s executing a Living Will and Health Care Power of Attorney or purchasing a pre-need funeral contract, or simply holding a family meeting, there are many ways to communicate your wishes to your family as well as the person or people you empower to implement your wishes or make the tough decisions when necessary.
If you are interested in learning more about how to plan in advance for these issues and how to best communicate your plans with the appropriate individuals, please contact a member of our Trusts, Estates and Elder Law Team at (828) 254-8800.”