Estate planning might not be an easy topic to bring up, but it is an important one, especially as your parents get older. But no matter their age, it’s never too early to start thinking about what will happen to their assets and how their wishes will be carried out after they’re gone. Although it might seem uncomfortable, trust us, this conversation will go more smoothly when all trusted parties can be involved. Here are some helpful tips for talking with your parents about estate planning.
Creating a Will
One of the first things to discuss with your parents is creating a will. A will is a legal document that outlines how assets will be distributed after they pass away. It’s important to have a will in place because it ensures their wishes are followed and helps to streamline probate. Probate is the state’s generic legal process of distributing a person’s assets after they die. There is no separate probate court in Virginia, so probate matters are handled by the circuit court in the city or county where your loved one lived at their time of death. If there is no will in place, Virginia’s statute of default heirs decides how your loved one’s assets are distributed.
Setting Up a Trust
In addition to a will, your parents may also want to consider setting up trusts. Trusts can be used to manage assets during a person’s lifetime, not just after death. A trust can also be used to distribute assets after they pass away. There are quite a few variations of trusts, including those that can be made and altered during your parents’ lives as they wish. Different types are suited to different financial needs, so feel free to discuss with us to determine which type of trust is right for your parents. Some of the common trusts used in Virginia estate planning include:
- Revocable Trusts
- Irrevocable Trusts
- Land Trusts
- Gun Trusts
- Pet Trusts
- Charitable Trusts
- Special Needs Trusts
- Testamentary Trusts
Designating an Agent Under Power of Attorney
Powers of attorney are another important consideration in estate planning. These documents allow your parents to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf if they become unable to do so themselves. There are two types of powers of attorney: one for financial matters and one for health care decisions (sometimes also called advance directives). Your parents should have both in place to ensure that their wishes are followed if they are unable to make decisions for themselves.
Planning For Long-term Care
Long-term care planning is another important aspect of estate planning. As people age, they may need additional help with activities of daily living, such as bathing, dressing and preparing meals. It’s important to discuss with your parents how they want to handle long-term care, whether it’s in their own home or a nursing facility. Depending on their answer, you will need to discuss the arrangements that need to be made to pay for the service they request. For example, you will need to understand the insurance coverage your parents already have or what they need to pay for their preferences, or take a look at government programs like Medicaid long-term care (LTC).
Medicaid LTC is a government program that helps to pay for long-term care for those who cannot afford it. If your parents are concerned about paying for long-term care, it’s important to talk to a Virginia estate planning attorney about Medicaid LTC pre-planning and how to protect their assets. Our goal is to walk you through this process and ease your mind about all these complicated processes.
If you live in Virginia and want to learn more about how to help your parents through the estate planning process, attend Promise Law’s free estate planning workshop. Attending a workshop can help you begin making wise and informed decisions for your family. If you attend the workshop, you also get a complimentary one-on-one consultation with an attorney. Contact us today.