It's a Family Affair!

By: Jim Klein

“Hey Grandpa!” Usually when I hear these words, questions quickly follow such as, “do you know if, when, how come, what’s that”?  Most of the time I am able to answer the straight forward questions and think within their age bracket to predict where they might be headed with their questions. My grandchildren have the questions and I have the answers. That’s how it will work for the next few years, until they know everything. Then I get a break for a time as they discover their mental capacity. I can hardly wait for them to be able to answer everyone’s questions with a shake of their head or a rolling of their eyes. You all know what I am talking about, I see you smiling as you remember those days.

Explaining a completed estate plan to a family member or loved one can often be a difficult task. There are moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles who have their plans in place and find it impossible to explain their plans to the people they want to share the information with. Such was the case with Gerry and Sharon.  After working through many scenarios on how to distribute their earthly possessions to their family and favorite charities, they decided to use a revocable living trust, charitable remainder trust; supplemental needs trust and personal memorandum. Ownership of real estate needed to be transferred to the living trust. However, the titles to these parcels needed to be updated with their current legal descriptions. Beneficiaries needed to be coordinated along with the other assets to ensure everything passes as intended. But how do they explain the why, where and what to their family?

The day that we reviewed the draft documents prior to the originals being printed for signatures, Gerry mentioned that he was not sure he could explain all of this to his children.  Gerry and Sharon knew that what they were doing supported their children and their favorite charities, but they were unsure of how to describe it in words that made sense. The simple solution was to invite their children, Tim and Sue, over when I came back and I could answer all of their questions.

It was one of those hot August days when we all met again in Gerry and Sharon's living room.  Pink lemonade and fresh peaches were served to help refresh everyone from the heat of the day. We sat and went over the documents and how they accomplished the wishes of Mom and Dad. Tim and Sue were able to have their questions answered as to how everything would be handled and who would perform which duties and when they would act as health care agents or trustees. When we finished, Tim and Sue stated that they now knew and understood the plans their parents had and why they did what they did. They were grateful to have advance knowledge of what would happen. They were relieved that they wouldn’t be surprised and baffled when both Mom and Dad were gone. Pretty soon the family pictures came out and the friendships were strengthened. What a rewarding night we had!

Proactive estate planning helps families get on the same page. When everyone is on the same page, stress and tension is relieved and families spend their time enjoying each other more.


Jim Klein is Acts 1:8 Ministry's retired Mission Advancement Director. In Jim's 29+ years of experience in the financial and estate planning field, he helped fellow Christians with their financial and estate planning for the benefit of their families and the Lord’s work! Learn more about leaving a Christian legacy.