The Dress Rehearsal: Importance of a Family Meeting From Austin Estate Planning Attorney Elizabeth Ziegler

The Dress Rehearsal: Importance of a Family Meeting by Austin estate planning lawyer

Annual exams are a part of life.  As we age, these appointments grow more and more important to catch potential issues before they become serious.  Similarly, due to ever-changing tax laws and interpersonal relationships, it’s a good idea for clients to review their estate plan regularly.  When your estate plan is written, it reflects the situation at a specific point in your life.  But we all know life doesn’t stand still.  As you acquire new assets or there are changes to your family, it becomes more and more important to ensure that your estate plan reflects these changes.

Yet, reviewing your estate plan to ensure it is updated is only the first step, as this only provides peace of mind for you.  When drafting your estate plan, it’s much too easy to forget a simple fact — none of us will be around to ensure the plan is executed.  Seems like such a simple fact to miss, but it’s true!  Whether it’s by death or incapacity, when it’s time for your power of attorney agent or executor to act on your behalf, you won’t be able to ensure that the plan goes smoothly! After completing your plan, consider scheduling a family meeting to help your family and named agents understand your wishes and the terms of your plan.

A Dress Rehearsal for the Family

Think of a Family Meeting as a “dress rehearsal” for you and your loved ones.  It’s a chance for everyone you’ve named in your estate plan to gather and have a practice run of probating your estate.  This meeting can include all your named helpers (including executors, trustees, power of attorney agents, and guardians of you or your children) and can even include any financial advisors you may want your loved ones to work with to manage your estate.

During this meeting you can share some of the key points of your plan with your named helpers, and then observe as we walk your loved ones through the steps of enacting your plan.  This gives everyone the opportunity to meet and work through the steps needed to ensure your plan goes smoothly.

This meeting also gives us the chance to check in with you, to ensure you’re happy with your plan as written.  And should we need to adjust, we can do so at that time, so your plan accomplishes your goals.  At the end of the meeting, both you and your loves will have the peace of mind knowing what to expect when the unexpected happens.

Isn’t My Estate Plan Enough?

Some people don’t want to contemplate incapacity or death, so they avoid making any estate plan at all.  This intentional failure to plan often result in chaos, since the court winds up making all the decisions about their estate for them.

Most often, people visit an estate planning attorney to avoid this kind of chaos.  Yet, once they have set up their plan, they move on and never look back.  Sadly, this well-intentioned attitude can also lead to chaos, as lives change and estate plans no longer provide the clear instructions they once did.

Still other clients enroll in an annual maintenance plan, like the Nielsen Law Peace of Mind protection plan.  This annual maintenance plan is where we review the plan to ensure your plan is set up the way you want, and your assets are aligned to your plan.  And if there are any changes needed, we make sure those are done.

Yet, while this plan provides peace of mind for you, your loved ones might still be left in the dark.  Once again, this has the potential to lead to chaos, as your loved ones scramble to understand and implement your plan after you’re no longer there to provide insight.  This is where a Family Meeting comes in.  In short, it gives both you and your family peace of mind for the future.

We’re Here to Help

No one wants to think about the day they’ll die, just as your loved ones don’t want to contemplate a world without you.  But being prepared can free you and your family from the uncertainty and chaos of implementing a strange estate plan during a nightmare of a time.

If you would like to set up an estate plan and have a Family Meeting to discuss it with your family, Nielsen Law is here to help.  We look forward to meeting your loved ones and doing what we can to ensure your estate plan will work smoothly when it’s needed.

Nielsen Law PLLC provides family focused estate planning for families and individuals in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, and the Central Texas area.  For more information and to learn about our firm, please contact us.