Two Priceless Noneconomic Bequests
By Dennis McAndrews, Esq. and Kelly Hayes, Esq.
We strive to make the estate planning process as seamless and smooth as possible for families and individuals. We use a simple questionnaire which provides most of the information we need to create estate planning documents. The questionnaire in conjunction with our consultation with families, generally provides the remaining information necessary to allow us to hit the ground running and supply drafts of documents with reasonable speed and accuracy. We are always cognizant that our clients are busy, and that they have taken time and care to assemble the information in our questionnaires and to supply us with any previous estate planning or related documents that might be relevant.
Beyond the drafting of these essential documents such as wills, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, etc., there are two additional planning mechanisms that can be invaluable to families, yet cost nothing and do not involve financial assets. These two noneconomic items are a Funeral Planning Declaration and an Oral History Interview.
As a courtesy to our clients, we maintain a Financial Planning Declaration on our website (Click here to access the Declaration). As many of our clients realize, a will is not the ideal place to include funeral arrangements, as it is often not located until after final arrangements have been made. If no preferred funeral arrangements have been provided, families are often left to scramble to identify services, burial/cremation arrangements and appropriate venue, luncheon plans, etc. This process can be very difficult to navigate during a stressful time and may sometimes result in unnecessary and tragic family discord. However, by completing a simple declaration such as found on our website, any of us can remove these difficult decisions from the hands of our survivors and allow for a gentler process that allows a family to memorialize the loved one, rather than managing unnecessary disagreements.
An Oral History is another magnificent gift to future generations. Ideally, the family history would be recorded (orally or by video) using a set of questions that permit an older family member to recount family history that is often uniquely known by that individual. Sadly, once an older generation passes from this life, a great deal of family history is lost if it is not memorialized in an oral history. The Smithsonian Institute has an excellent website which describes the best process to use for this undertaking, and also conveniently sets out a series of wonderful questions to use in obtaining the family history. (Click here to view The Smithsonian Institute’s page on “How To Do Oral History”.)
We look forward to serving you and your family’s estate planning needs. Our Estates and Trusts Department is experienced, compassionate, and highly skilled in creating estate plans and conducting estate administration activities of all types. Our questionnaires and many articles regarding our work are located on our website. We hope to hear from you soon!