I would like to get you thinking about estate planning. Estate planning includes much more than ensuring that your property goes to the beneficiary of your choice, although that’s an important piece. If you have children, you also need to consider who will become the guardian for them and how your children will be cared for if both parents are no longer living. This may mean reviewing your life insurance and considering setting up a trust. If you own a small business or family farm, you will want to have plans in place to ensure a smooth succession of ownership. In all these decisions, you will want to consider tax implications, probate issues and privacy concerns when making your choices.

Estate planning also includes other important decisions such as final wishes and funeral arrangements. Communicating these desires during your lifetime relieves your loved ones of the

burden of trying to make those decisions during their time of grief. You also want to consider

completing important documents such as a power of attorney, advanced directive and durable

power of attorney for healthcare.

With estate planning, procrastination is your worst enemy. We don’t like to think of our own deaths or the eventual deaths of those we love. However, lack of planning and communication often results in conflicts, regrets, and uncertainty for loved ones trying to make these difficult decisions for you.

Who Gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? is a program developed by the Cooperative Extension Service at the University of Minnesota. It was designed to help individuals and families decide how to distribute personal possessions. This program addresses the sensitivity of transferring personal property and reducing conflict among heirs. It helps address different perceptions of what is “fair.” The program helps individuals identify those special items that may have different perceived values to different people. It also encourages families to consider distribution options and consequences and agree to manage conflicts if they arise.

The information that is provided is not meant to be a substitute for legal counsel. By participating in an estate planning program, you should have a better understanding of the many elements involved in estate planning and be better equipped to handle emotionally sensitive conversations regarding end-of-life decision-making. If you would like information about upcoming Who Gets Grandmas Yellow Pie Plate? programs in your area, please contact your local University of Missouri Extension Office.

Jessica Trussell is a field specialist in human development for the University of Missouri Extension.