Your cruise ship has left port

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

Photo credit Matthias Zomer

Many people who do not have a Will believe that they can time the preparation of their Will like they do an oil change. Unfortunately, dementia, which affects many new patients every year, does not provide adequate warning signs so that you can time the preparation of your documents before you become ill. There is no flashing sign that states “you have 25 days to write your Will”. Many times the ship has left the port without anyone knowing that they were headed on a cruise.

Often, when a person dies, the legal question becomes, “when did they lose their capacity to consider their Will?” The same can be said for those who have a Will, develop dementia and then revise it. The question then becomes “which came first the revision or the dementia?”

Just as oil changes are a fraction of the cost of replacing the engine, regular family meetings are a lot easier than the time and cost of estate litigation. Practically speaking, it is hard to challenge a Will on the basis of mental incapacity when the person doing the willing has expressed their wishes consistently and clearly to their beneficiaries year after year.

The best part about having regular family meetings is that your beneficiaries hear the same information at the same time – on a regular basis. That is purposeful planning. For extra comfort, consider keeping minutes at your family meetings, especially if one beneficiary seems displeased about what they have been left under the terms of the will.

Remember, how we leave our wealth is as important as what we leave. Leaving your family members solutions, not problems can be the greatest gift of all.

Written by Stacy Maurier