We know lots of people don’t like to think or talk about dying. We can see how our own clients often put off doing their estate planning until something happens that they see as a wake-up call: a friend dies suddenly without a will, leaving a mess for the family; or our client has to serve as their parents’ estate administrator-again with no will and no idea what to do.
We also work with clients who have been voted by the rest of the family to serve as the estate administrator but they have never talked to the deceased relative about estate planning, have no idea where the estate planning documents are kept or even if there is an estate plan at all.
I recently saw a survey done by Princeton Survey Research Associates International and reported on Caring.com that showed that 54.2% of the 1,000 Americans surveyed did not know where their own parents kept their estate planning documents. Whether this high number is due to squeamishness about discussing death, simple oversight or something else altogether, I think we should be doing better!
I encourage you readers, if you have living parents who are over a certain age, ask them if they have an estate plan and where they keep it.
Also, take a look around at your extended family. Do you have an elderly uncle who has no children? Is it likely that your siblings are going to stick you with executor duty? The time to get clear is now, while your elderly relative is around and can help you find everything you’re going to need. You’re not being pushy or nosy by asking. You are trying to make sure their wishes are honored.