Mother’s Day has been around since the early 1900s, and we’ve cherished it for over a century. In 1907, a woman named Anna Jarvis held a memorial for her mother, Ann Reeves Jarvis, and announced her intention to create Mother’s Day as a way for all maternal figures to be celebrated for all they do for their children.
It didn’t take long before Mother’s Day became a full-fledged holiday, and, every year, we celebrate it with flowers, brunches, and spa days. But, what if the gift for this holiday was a little different?
Though you shouldn’t skimp on all the usual Mother’s Day presents, consider setting up an estate planning meeting for your mom. This gift might seem a little unorthodox, but it will have long-term benefits that will last for years to come.
How Estate Planning Can Help Moms
Estate planning has several key elements. Though there are a million and one documents and legal tools that can go into an estate plan, this article will cover the basics. If your mom needs any of these key documents, contacting an estate planning attorney will be the perfect gift this season.
Last Will & Testament
When you think of estate planning, the idea of a “last will and testament” is probably what you picture. Last wills and testaments date back thousands of years, and they are still an important aspect of estate planning to this day.
The will outlines what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away. Though a bit morbid for a Mother’s Day gift, it’s far less dreary than dying without a will (AKA, dying “intestate”). In that case, the state takes over your assets in the probate process. The state’s division of assets focuses on creditor repayment, which is likely far different from what your mom would want to have happen to her most prized possessions.
Drawing up a will is not difficult, but it’s best to have an attorney do it, as there are a lot of minor technicalities that an untrained eye can overlook. Wills also do not have to be updated constantly. The rule of thumb is to check them every three to five years or after a major life event.
Living Will & Healthcare Power of Attorney
A living will is also called an advanced medical directive. It outlines what you want doctors and nurses to do or not do if you are seriously ill and incapable of communicating your wishes yourself. A living will often relates to personal decisions about life support and life-sustaining medical intervention.
A healthcare power of attorney, by contrast, is a trusted individual that you appoint to manage your healthcare affairs if you’re unable to do so yourself. This healthcare POA signs a legal document swearing to act in your best interests if you need someone to make your healthcare decisions for you.
So, why are these legal tools important? Being sick or incapacitated means you are experiencing one of the most vulnerable points of your life. Having a healthcare directive and power of attorney ensure that you (or your mom) are well-taken-care-of, even in such a diminished state.
Financial Power of Attorney
Similar to a healthcare power of attorney, a financial power of attorney is a trusted individual who signs a legal document swearing to act in your best interests. This financial POA exercises his or her decision-making powers as they pertain to your finances. Should you become seriously ill, the financial POA handles investment decisions, bill-paying, and other major and minor financial matters.
If your mom attends an estate planning session, it’s likely that the document pertaining to the financial POA will be created at the same time as the last will and testament. It is especially important to nominate a financial POA if there are a lot of financial assets or specifications regarding the estate.
Last but certainly not least is a trust. A trust is a legal document that transfers legal title of property to a trustee, who holds it for the benefit of a third-party beneficiary. Trusts do not have to go through probate court, and you can set restrictions and guidelines for how you want beneficiaries and trustees to manage your assets.
A trust is an especially good idea for those with sizable insurance policies, large estates, and/or a lot of kids. If these characteristics apply to your mom, talk to an estate planning attorney about setting up this legal entity.
We want to protect the ones we love and, of course, our moms are no exception. Estate planning is a long-term gift with long-term benefits. Consider setting up a meeting for your mother this holiday and visit our website to learn more about our services.