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February 22, 2022

A little planning can prevent a big mess

Although the term estate implies wealth, anyone with any level of assets can leave frustrating loose ends at the conclusion of one’s life. On the other hand, with a bit of estate planning, you can tidy up your affairs as a final act of kindness toward the people you love.


That’s the point of the Kendal at Home Webinar Series, Do You Have A Plan? How to Avoid Leaving a Mess,” with Massachusetts Estate Planning attorney Tiffany O'Connell. Part one of the free three-part series takes place Thursday, Feb. 24th at 11 a.m. EST.


What kinds of messes do people leave behind? Legal, financial, medical and emotional. Too many folks pass away or become incapacitated with no legal documents and having had no candid conversations with loved ones. Family and friends then have no idea how to help and no clear lines of authority.


Failure to make a will, for example, means your assets may go to someone you didn’t intend and your family will need to spend money on legal fees that could have been avoided. Becoming incapacitated without a health care directive keeps loved ones in the dark about being able to make medical decisions for you. Failure to choose a trustee, a medical advocate, executor, or successors for these roles creates legal issues and confusion. Failure to take advantage of perfectly legal ways to reduce taxation will result in the waste of your hard-earned assets. All of these oversights create extra work, at a considerable cost, often creating needless interpersonal conflict among those who are grieving.


“Having the right documents and the right conversations when the waters are calm helps you live the life you want to live,” says Tiffany. “When crisis hits, your loved ones will know what you want and have it in writing, avoiding unnecessary anguish, effort and expense.”


Tiffany, principal of O’Connell Law LLC in Natick, Mass., has specialized in estate planning for 15 years following an active-duty tour in the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corp at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C., where she served as Soldier’s Counsel for disabled soldiers. Before her active-duty tour, Tiffany worked for many years in the insurance industry, both in house and with an insurance defense law firm.


Three sessions over four weeks


The estate planning series consists of three sessions:


Session I: The Key Estate Planning Documents Everyone Needs and Why You May Need A Trust

Thursday, Feb. 24 at 11 a.m.


Session II: How to Pick Your Helpers

Thursday, March 10 at 11 a.m.


Session III: Essential Communications: When & With Whom?

Thursday, March 24 at 11 a.m.


Among the questions Tiffany will cover: What’s a trust and do I need one? Doesn't my spouse automatically get everything? Am I liable for estate taxes? Who should be my helpers, and how do I choose them? How do I handle the difficult but necessary conversations?


Each session is approximately one hour, with plenty of opportunities for Q&A. Each participant will receive a copy of Tiffany O’Connell’s recently published guidebook: “Do You Have a Plan? How to Avoid Leaving a Mess.


“Gathering your documents, identifying all your helpers, and having essential conversations with them when the waters are a calm is important,” says Tiffany. “These steps will help you live the type of life you want and leave the lasting memory you had hoped.”


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