Congratulations, Dad. You’ve raised your children, who now have children of their own. Despite all the obstacles of recent years, the family is thriving. You feel good about how you’ve led your life and are hopeful about the years ahead. The next thing on your agenda: creating a legacy of caring for your family. This Father’s Day, consider how the actions you take now can strengthen your legacy.

Your legacy includes sharing the values and history of your family. The next time a grandchild points their phone at you and asks you what your childhood was like or asks to learn more about your own parent’s journey, don’t be shy. Tell them the stories you were told, even if you don’t have every single detail.

Teach your adult children by example the importance of planning for the future. Having an estate plan prepared professionally is not overly burdensome and alleviates stress and expense for the family. If you have an estate plan in place, including a will, Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney and Living Will, talk with them about it. Make sure they know you’ve already taken steps to protect them, even when you’ve passed. Knowing Dad made sure to have his estate planning taken care of shows the family how much they mean to you.

A legacy of care addresses incapacity as well as death, which is especially important for special needs families. If you haven’t recently updated the legal documents for incapacity in the last three years, it would be wise to review them with your estate planning attorney. Most health care facilities today are very stringent about the health care proxies and related documents they accept. An out-of-date Health Care Proxy may be refused, causing your children to scramble for a guardianship appointment. Read more in our article, Incapacity Planning

Handing your adult child a current health care proxy, living will, and power of attorney conveys complete trust and respect for their judgement. Especially for fathers who are not given to displays of affection, this is a powerful message about love and trust. It’s an example of actions speaking louder than words.

Taking proactive steps to alleviate the financial burden of healthcare and caregiving for the children and grandchildren is another way for fathers to show their love. The cost of long-term care at home or in a nursing home can easily consume a lifetime of savings. If the father’s goal was to leave a financial legacy, and if the resources are available, a long-term care insurance policy is a worthwhile investment. These financial products are not inexpensive, until they are compared to the cost of long-term care.

Planning for the possibility of long-term care may include Medicaid planning. Because of the five-year lookback period, when any transfers of property to a child or to a trust may delay coverage, Medicaid planning should be done before its needed. If applicable, speak with your estate planning attorney about a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust (MAPT) and other means of protecting your financial legacy.

Families are often asked about health history, more so today when treatments can be based on gene therapies. A family health record is like a family tree, but focuses on where and how your ancestors lived, what health challenges they experienced, and their causes of death. For a future generation, the information could be lifesaving.

An often-overlooked part of estate planning is checking beneficiary designations. It’s likely you started your career at one company several decades ago and have had a few different employers along the way, you may have a few retirement accounts or a pension with beneficiaries from many years ago. Contact any companies you have accounts with and check on the named beneficiaries. The named beneficiary overrides the will and leaving a large sum to a person who is no longer in your life would be an unpleasant and unfixable fact for your family to deal with. Learn more in our article, Why Should You Check Beneficiary Designations if You Have an Estate Plan?

Creating a legacy of caring is a wonderful Father’s Day gift to give to yourself and your family. Contact our estate planning team at Special Needs Law Group of Massachusetts today to get started.  Happy Father’s Day!