The purpose of an estate plan is to provide for personal health care and manage personal affairs and assets if one becomes incapacitated; to manage and reduce federal and state taxes so the maximum amount of assets is transferred to heirs and beneficiaries; to leave a legacy - of property as well as memories, life experiences, care and support for loved ones and special causes.
A comprehensive estate plan includes key components: non-probate titled property, a will, and several types of trusts and designated beneficiaries. Seniors must plan for and manage the possibility of incapacity , a situation that may call for several types of powers of attorney, agent selection, and the use of guardians and conservators.
Today, many seniors live in nontraditional families. Some have one or both parents (or stepparents) who are still alive. Others have adopted children, stepchildren, or domestic and LBBTQI partners. In addition, many seniors are in their second (or later) marriages or who have been divorced or widowed and are considering remarriage. The prospect of another marriage can create awareness of the 'yours, mine, and ours' concept of the blended family. For example, seniors may wish to ensure that children from an earlier relationship are provided for after their deaths - and at the same time, provide something for the surviving spouse.
In these scenarios, bad feeling and fear can arise among those who will be left behind as to what their individual legacy will be and what securities will be theirs at their loved one's passing. A mediated estate plan can be crucial to a lasting agreement among each member of the blended family which will hold after the parent's death. This agreement can be a legacy in and of itself.