When it comes to the subject of death, a lot of people from Pennsylvania and across the nation tend to get quiet. That's because, for many people, the subject of death is taboo, oftentimes put off until the very last minute to avoid the awkwardness that comes with discussing end of life wishes.
Unfortunately, as our regular Harrisburg readers know, this way of thinking can create huge problems down the road, especially when it comes to a person's estate plan. In today's post, we’d like to look at a series of questions that might make our readers squirm with discomfort but are important nonetheless and should be considered by everyone in Pennsylvania.
Do you have advanced health care directives in place?
This question is oftentimes accompanied by the question: when do you want the doctors to pull the plug? Neither is particularly easy to deal with even though advanced health care directives are incredibly important. As we explained in a post back at the beginning of April, using the case of Teri Schiavo as an example, becoming incapacitated and not having any health care directives can create contentious disputes between family members -- disputes that can lead to litigation.
Have you named anyone as the guardian of your children?
This may be one of the more difficult questions for parents to consider because it assumes that both parents will die at the same time, leaving their children in the custody of someone else. But if parents name a guardian ahead of time in their estate plan, they can make sure that their children are cared for by someone they trust rather than someone the court appoints.
Have you named all descendents in your will?
This is another difficult question because it insinuates that you may have a secret past that your family might not know about. In truth, this may happen. A parent may have a child from a previous marriage that they have not talked about with their family. They may even have an estranged sibling no one knew about. By making sure that they are accounted for in a will, a person can save their family a very awkward and particularly litigious situation.
So while these questions may have made you squirm with discomfort, we hope they forced you to consider your own estate plan, which may prompt you to talk to an attorney fairly soon.