The failure of drafting an estate plan by your parent can create some obstacles when the parent dies. First, it can leave you scrambling to unravel their financial picture while trying to grieve. Second, it can be expensive. By talking to your parents about estate planning and encouraging them to create a plan, according to Beck & Lenox Estate Planning & Elder Law, LLC, all parties involved can have peace of mind.
MarketWatch’s recent article entitled “It’s easy to put it off, but here’s why you should talk to your parents about estate planning, and how to start the conversation” agrees that a wise way to avoid both scenarios is to begin talking with your parents about estate planning. While this can sound like a job just for the uber-rich, it is really an essential process that ensures clear directives exist for all sorts of situations that accompany the end of life.
An estate plan is a chance to set mindful intentions about life’s inevitabilities. It is, therefore, a great idea to ask your parents to take account of their assets and belongings. This is not just about the numbers and paperwork—it is a chance to gauge preparedness.
Start by asking your parent(s) the following:
- Who do you want as your primary caregiver?
- How will we pay for health care expenses?
- What are your medical care preferences?
- Which of us should make medical decisions on your behalf?
- How should we handle your property when you die?
- Do you have any valuable items that you want to be handled in a special way?
- Where are your most important documents and do we have access to all of your digital records?
Inheritance often require probate. However, if the right legal documents are in place, it can be a relatively quick and painless process. When someone dies intestate (without a will), it can sticky and get tricky. Understand that the state has its own rules for dying without a will. Depending on the situation, you might need to hire a probate attorney because there will be legal proceedings. Therefore, make certain that your parents have a will and that beneficiaries are clearly stated in all policies and documents. It is a preventative measure that can pay dividends.
Beck & Lenox often recommends a trust in order to avoid the cost and time of probate. Each person’s situation is different.
Remember that when wealth is transferred (or assets are passed from one person to another), taxes are often inevitable. Work with an experienced estate planning attorney to minimize liability.
Reference: MarketWatch (Dec. 29, 2021) “It’s easy to put it off, but here’s why you should talk to your parents about estate planning, and how to start the conversation”