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The personal part of estate planning

In Arizona, estate planning incudes many financial aspects, such as wealth protection. However, many quality-of-life issues may be considered that can have a tremendous impact for families.

If guardians are appointed for minor children, parents should confirm that they readily accept this important responsibility. The person's values and judgments about education, religion and financial matters should be shared with the potential guardian.

Concerns about dementia should also be discussed with family members. Wishes on matters such as in-home care, living in a facility, hiring paid caregivers, visits from friends and family members and confidentiality should be outlined.

End-of-life issues may be contained in living wills or advanced directives. However, the person may also share their values on this issue, the factors that should be considered on making end-of-life decisions and the amount of time that should be spent on making these decisions.

Funeral planning is also important. Wishes on burial or cremation, religious beliefs, costs, speakers, and the type of ceremony should be considered.

Estate planning now includes care of pets. Many individuals have set up pet trusts that govern who will care for the pet and how the pets should be treated and which set aside assets for their care. A valid will may also govern this issue but does not bind the person who inherits the money to use those funds for the pet's care. At minimum, a pet owner should verbally communicate their wishes on the care of their pets.

Inheritance of personal possessions can also be set forth in a will. However, family members should also be informed on which property should stay within the family, which assets may be sold or property, which may be donated or given away. The will's executor should be informed on whether the assets should be divided equally among the heirs or whether there are any other preferences.

In addition to legal documents, written or electronic documents may contain some of these wishes. However, a trusted person or family member should know about the identity of these documents and have quick and easy access.

A qualified estate attorney can provide options and draft legally binding documents. They can also provide options and recommendations on implementing these wishes.

Source: Morningstar, "Don't neglect the softer side of your estate plan," Christine Benz, Sept. 17, 2017

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