Back to Basics: Discussing Death and Your Estate In New York

No one likes discussing their own demise. The topic is generally considered taboo amongst most people and is possibly the most uncomfortable conversation topic. This is unfortunate for everyone though, because if a person is unable to discuss their own death, chances are they are unwilling to plan for it either. That is one of the worst cases possible for not just for the person who fails to plan but their family members and people who rely on them as well. Discussing death is the first step to engaging people to plan their estate and while it is a difficult topic to broach, there are certain steps that a person can take to help bring people closer to planning their estate.

  1. Do Not Put Estate Planning In Terms of Death

People looking to engage others about estate planning should not discuss death, rather they should focus on planning for incapacity. A good estate plan does not just encompass what happens when a person dies. It will also discuss plans for what happens when a person becomes incapacitated such as if they are in an accident and unable to communicate and are unconscious.

It is often easier for people to discuss what their wishes would be if they were ever in a coma or a vegetative state than if they had passed away. This can often be a good gateway to discussing with them what they would like to happen if they became deceased in an accident or injury. After all, death is the ultimate incapacity.

  1. Ask What Would Happen If the Person Was Incapacitated Right Now

For a person without an estate plan, showing them what would happen to their assets if they died is often an eye opening event. Many people hold misconceptions about their state’s laws when it comes to how their assets would be distributed upon their death. Showing a person that they may have beneficiaries that they do not want to inherit can often prod a person to take basic steps to planning their estate.

People often hold misconceptions as to who would make medical decisions if they were incapacitated. This is typically the case when a person is unmarried or widowed. Often the decision is not left to just one person but multiple people, such as siblings making medical decisions for a widowed parent. This can lead to conflicts amongst family members, not just as to who should make the decision but what the family member would want. Putting a person’s wishes down on paper as well as nominating a person to make those decisions takes the guesswork out of the future.

  1. Put Estate Planning in Terms of Taking Care of Their Family

Many people do not care what happens to their assets after they pass and as such they do not think that they need to plan their estate, but they do care about is making sure that their family is taken care of after they pass. For many people, putting the emphasis not on the decedent but the survivors of the decedent can be a powerful motivator.

  1. Compare Estate Planning to Insurance

Estate planning for many can best be thought of as a safety net, just like insurance. No one wants to have to use their insurance, but people are always thankful that it is there when they have to use that. Estate planning is even better than insurance in this comparison, because it is guaranteed that every person will one day pass, and when they do, it is better for absolutely everyone that they have an estate plan in place when it occurs.

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