Berman & Asbel, LLP

Communicating wishes to next of kin

Although many Pennsylvania individuals may feel uncomfortable about having the end of life discussion, failing to do so can leave a person's next of kin in a difficult and vulnerable position. By including specific instructions or information about where to find such instructions, individuals can ensure that their affairs can be handled after they pass away.

The information in wills may not be adequate to fully handle a decedent's affairs. For example, a will may not state where to find a pet's medicine or even who will inherit the pet if something were to happen to its owner. Additionally, information about bills and specific details about debts is often left out of wills. Leaving information in a safe deposit box may seem like a good idea, but this can be complicated when the decedent did not leave a key to it or bequeath the asset to someone in the will.

One way to potentially handle these issues that does not including writing everything in wills which become public is to use an online storage vault. In this manner, individuals can upload documents that provide greater specificity than perhaps one page of written instructions about funerals. Some such platforms also include information about state guidelines regarding making wills and advance directives. If properly set up, the program may allow a certain person to have access to the information after an individual dies. In this way, individuals can leave greater instructions, such as passwords and usernames for various online accounts, recipes, personal letters for loved ones, instructions on how to care for a pet, instructions related to raising any minor children and any other information that the decedent would like to leave to the next generation.

People who would like to leave specific instructions regarding after-death decisions may want to meet with an estate planning lawyer. Legal counsel might suggest additional documents that can be drawn up to reflect the individual's final wishes.

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