To all the moms out there (including my own!), happy Mother’s Day! We all have our own unique relationships and therefore unique lists with an endless number of things we can and should thank our moms for. But the one thing we all have in common is there are not enough words and never the perfect gifts that fully encompass how thankful we are for all they’ve given us. Bath salts, candles, and lotions are nice. A massage or pedicure sounds even better! These gifts are kind, but they pale in comparison to all the tangible and intangible things your mother has given you over the years.
That’s why I propose this year you give your mom a gift that’s unconventional, yet incredibly valuable…an estate plan! Why is this one of the greatest gifts for a loved one?
- An estate plan leads to peace of mind. Your mom can feel good knowing if the unexpected happens, then the legal “stuff” surrounding your life is accounted for.
- Estate planning means that you (the testator) get to make the decisions about who you want to have what stuff and when.
- Estate planning isn’t just about death. Documents like financial and health care powers of attorney play an important role if your mom were to be incapacitated by a debilitating accident or illness. Everyone wants the ability to choose the people they want to make important decisions regarding their money and health instead of a court-appointed guardian or conservator.
- Estate planning means your mom can plan for her estate to benefit the causes and organizations she cares for through charitable bequests.
- Estate planning saves your mother’s family (like you!) time and money in attorney’s fees and court costs in the probate process.
- By encouraging your mom to execute an estate plan, you are recognizing that you want her wishes to be heard on important matters like disposition of final remains and a living will. (It makes up for all the times you didn’t follow her directions as a kid!)
- Estate plans can also be seen as a representation of your everlasting love for your mother, because estate plans never expire! They need to be reviewed regularly and updated when goals or big life-changing events happen, but a valid estate plan will last as long as your mom wants it to. What other Mother’s Day gifts can you say that about?
How do you gift someone an estate plan you ask? Well, you certainly can’t buy one at a store, but this is your chance to get creative.
- Gift the gift of information. Even sharing the benefits and educating her on the main components of an estate plan is an amazing present.
- Connect her with an estate planning attorney. Sometimes the hardest part of estate planning is simply getting started. When you work with an estate planning attorney (in lieu of something with a high potential for negative unintended consequences like a DIY will off the internet), they help guide and consult you through the process on top of writing the actual documents.
- Give a storage container. This is a gift you could actually put a bow on! There are many different ways you can choose to store your estate plan, so take stock of what your mother has in terms of secure storage. Is there a locked file cabinet readily available or does she need a water-proof, fire-proof place to keep her original estate plan? The storage container could be a sort of representative for the estate plan that is to come.
- Help her gather her information to fill out the Estate Plan Questionnaire. An Estate Plan Questionnaire helps you and your attorney collect all the important details related to your estate in one place.
- Gift your assistance. Let your mom know that when she’s ready to discuss her planning decisions that you’ll be there to listen, and if necessary, bring your siblings (if any) and other family members to the table so that everyone is on the same page.
Already got your mom a gift? That’s cool. I’m sure she would love it in addition to the estate plan!