Perhaps one of the most rewarding aspects of having an estate plan is the peace of mind it gives you and your family. So, if you’re aging parents, you should read this blog and keep these seven things top of mind—your family will thank you for it.
1. It’s 100% normal to have mixed feelings about creating an estate plan.
We’ve worked with hundreds of clients just like you, and your feelings are normal! However, for most aging parents who work with an experienced estate planning attorney, the process is easier than they think. With that being said, getting your estate planning started can be empowering and will likely take a huge weight off your shoulders. Your loved ones will be relieved at your proactivity as well.
2. Those closest to you should know where your documents are.
If something happens to you and you end up in the hospital, your family doesn’t have days or weeks to rummage through your house looking for documents. If there’s a health emergency, they need access to documents asap—some of which may outline how to address your medical needs. Another less than ideal scenario (that is quite common) is aging parents putting all of their most important documents in a safe deposit box and not giving anyone access to it. It’s best to avoid these scenarios by disclosing where your documents are to trusted family members (or friends).
3. Your children should be aware of who you have designated to make medical decisions.
The last thing you want is a situation where you are sick, and your children are at the hospital wondering which one of them is supposed to make the decisions. Have the discussion now regarding medical treatment and end-of-life scenarios. These kinds of decisions are some of the toughest for children to make. They haunt people. Talk about your medical wishes now to avoid this scenario later.
4. Family dynamics should always be taken into consideration.
What is the relationship between the children? Do they get along? Consider the talents and temperament of your children too. Maybe it’s a good idea for “the bossy one” to be public enemy no. 1 to settle the estate or perhaps select the peacemaker to play the role of a middleman.
In addition, it would be wise to consider whether your children have a million things on their plate already. Indeed, sometimes it is best to have a third party handle the estate. This does cost a fee, but it may be a small price to pay to avoid family drama at the Thanksgiving table.
5. Ideally, you will have a team of trusted advisors that know you, your goals, and what you’d like your legacy to look like.
Your children should know who they can call regarding who has been handling your taxes, financial planning, and legal matters. We only deal with losing a parent 1 or 2 times in our lives, so most people don’t have a lot of experience dealing with it. When this happens, your children may not be in the mood or even have the capacity to make decisions and learn what’s going on regarding your estate. Having advisors there to help can make a world of difference in a stressful situation such as losing a parent.
6. Just because your will was valid ten years ago, doesn’t mean it is valid now.
With legal changes, tax changes, and most importantly, life changes, you need to be sure you are revisiting the estate plan to make sure it is still valid and relevant to your current family structure, finances, and goals.
7. Honesty is the best policy.
Disclose it all to your lawyer. If you are keeping something a secret now, it will probably come out later (as a surprise to your children). Some things you keep to yourself may change the whole dynamic of your estate plan if you were to disclose it, so just lay it all out there. Let us know about that child from a previous marriage, your relationships, whether you’ve given large gifts to others, etc.
Attend a Free Estate Planning Webinar
Commissioning the help of an experienced estate planning attorney as an aging parent can make all the difference in making sure you and your family have peace of mind and a sense of security about your future. We invite you to attend one of our free and informative estate planning workshops. By attending, you will be entitled to a complimentary consultation with Promise Law.