Many families are aware of the potential problems with waiting too long to discuss their aging parents’ financial and estate plans. It’s common advice to take advantage of the holidays to discuss estate planning with your aging parents. But for many seniors, the holidays are the worst time to discuss their end-of-life planning. It is depressing and frightening and can ruin an otherwise happy occasion. Don’t wait: NOW is the time to discuss estate planning with aging parents so you can all enjoy stress-free holidays.
Most people wait too long to discuss their parent’s medical and financial wishes. When you finally realize you should ‘have the talk’ about estate planning, your parents may have already forgotten important details.
The hardest part of any discussion is getting started. But understanding that estate planning is not necessarily about who gets what of your parent’s assets, but more importantly, ensuring your parents are taken care of and protected during their senior years may make the discussion easier. An estate plan will see that the finances are in place to pay for medical expenses and short- and long-term care facilities. It will help to know your parent’s wishes concerning their assets, finances, and health care.
Here are some suggestions on how to start the conversation about your aging parents’ estate plans, whatever the time of year.
1. Approach the Topic With Respect and Care
When initiating a conversation about trust planning, it’s important to be candid and considerate, says advisor Nora Garvey. Garvey suggests starting the discussion respectfully, such as: “Mom and Dad, your health and happiness are important to us. We want to make sure there are resources in place to support you in the years ahead. Let’s work together to avoid getting caught up in a scenario where we need to help you navigate medical issues but aren’t able to work on your behalf.”
2. Begin the Conversations While Your Parents Are in Good Health
Adult children should initiate estate planning conversations with their parents while they’re still in good health so that they can make their own decisions. If you delay the conversation about estate planning, senior health care, and end-of-life wishes until a crisis occurs, your parents will feel unprepared and unable to control their own future.
3. Recommend an Informed 3rd Party
A neutral but informed 3rd party such as an estate planning attorney to advise on legal documents or an aging coach who can recommend services and resources can provide peace of mind and start an action plan. Family and friends who’ve experienced similar situations are a good source of referrals.
An estate plan is not only for the rich and famous. It is a plan made up of legal documents describing your wishes for your care and how to distribute your assets when you’re gone. When you discuss estate planning with aging parents, at a minimum, it should include 3 items:
Besides these, many estate plans also include your parent’s retirement accounts (IRA or 401(k) plans), life and health insurance policies and investments they may have (including real estate, stocks, bonds, or bitcoins). An elder law and estate planning attorney can make sure all of these documents work together and do not contradict each other.
Talk to the experienced elder law and estate planning attorneys at the Estate and Probate Legal Group. We can help your parents plan for and protect their future. Contact us today at 630-864-5835.
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