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Prepare for estate administration, even if it's awkward

Most residents of Oklahoma didn't wake up this morning excited about discussing estate planning with their parents, spouses or children. In fact, preparing for estate administration can be an uncomfortable process and not just because individuals don't want to spend a great deal of time contemplating death or the loss of a loved one.

In some cases, estate planning conversations have not happened, and parents or older relatives are approaching twilight years. Children or younger caregivers may not know if the individuals have worked on estate issues, and it's not just a matter of who will inherit things when someone is gone. Estate documents, such as trusts, power of attorney forms and living wills, can be important for individuals who are still living as well.

One expert suggests children or younger relatives might bring up their own work in estate planning or that they heard about the need for planning on a radio or television program. Starting a casual conversation could lead to a discussion of what each person has done with regarding to estate planning.

Some things to consider when approaching estate planning include wills to protect assets and govern how they are distributed as well as trusts to protect assets during life. Documents may spell out how end-of-life care should be handled and name beneficiaries for accounts such as life insurance and individual retirement accounts.

Individuals may also want to consider appointing a health care proxy or power of attorney. That person would ensure medical and other decisions are made if an individual is incapacitated. Select someone you trust implicitly, and select a backup in case the other person is unable to serve in that capacity. Power of attorney selections and all other estate planning documents should be reviewed from time to time to ensure no changes are required.

Source: CBS Boston, "All About Estate Planning" Dee Lee, Jun. 13, 2014

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