There are a multitude of reasons people hesitate or refuse to write a will or set up a trust.
They don’t like thinking about their death. They have misconceptions about needing a will. They don’t want to tempt fate. Or, they say, it costs too much money to make an estate plan and besides, the family already knows what they want.
Suzanne Nunn, planned giving professional for the Orange Catholic Foundation, has heard those excuses and more in her work. They are some of the reasons the foundation since 2011 has offered twice-yearly Wills & Trusts Weeks in May and October. The first year 300 people attended the workshops; last year’s sessions reached some 1,600 to 1,800 participants.
“First, families must make the decision to develop an estate plan,” Nunn advises. “There are many reasons families don’t do this. They usually don’t know where to start.”
Wills & Trusts Week provides information materials and detailed presentations by planned giving professionals and estate attorneys to help Orange County Catholics begin thinking about what will happen to their homes, savings and even the care of their children upon their deaths.
“What are your goals?” Nunn asks theoretically. “Who will take care of your kids upon your death and manage their money for them? Who is going to be your successor, executor and who will have your power of attorney?
“Who will be my voice when my voice can no longer be heard?”
Wills & Trusts Week takes place this fall from October 16 to 21. Two-hour sessions will be offered at parishes throughout the Diocese of Orange to offer information and resources for developing wills and trusts.
During each session, an estate lawyer will provide long-range planning documents to help attendees get the process started. Included are documents such as health care directive forms, power of attorney forms and HIPPA forms, among others, Nunn says.
Participants are encouraged to ask questions and take notes, she says, to prepare the forms, speak in detail with their families, and even consider bequests to the church. They also receive information about how and why to hire an estate attorney to develop their will, set up a trust or help develop planned giving documents.
“Everyone has a different idea of what they look for in a lawyer,” Nunn observes. “We suggest that you interview them to find the one you want. We have three attorneys present at every session of Wills & Trusts Week and we provide profiles on all the lawyers who are our volunteers.” Many attorneys offer complimentary consultations during which prospective clients can ask questions.
“We urge people to make well-thought-out decisions and try to provide them with all the information they need to design a plan that works appropriately for them,” Nunn explains. “Some people will hire the lawyers at the workshops, or other attorneys, but they will have their questions formulated so that they will be confident in seeking the right information.”
In addition to the information available during Wills & Trust Week presentations, the Orange Catholic Foundation website at ocfpg.org has videos, checklists, donor stories, advice and contact information that can get you started in creating a detailed set of questions before you consult an attorney to plan your will, trust or charitable bequests.
For more information: ocfpg.org.