- posted: Nov. 30, 2022
- Estate Planning
No one relishes bringing up estate planning in family conversations, and perhaps least so when one’s parents are the target audience. You are talking about their money, their assets and their choices about the future. You are also bringing up the inevitable truth that they will one day pass away. This is a difficult topic for many families. However, there are ways to do it right and do it well.
It is best to have an estate-planning conversation when your parents are still healthy. In fact, the earlier the better. Pre-planning is key to protecting their assets and structuring them to achieve maximum financial benefits.
In starting the conversation, it’s important to emphasize that estate planning is critical not only to conveying property after their death but also to taking care of them in their later years. Since one parent will likely survive the other, estate planning should include making sure that parent will have financial security.
You should not start a conversation with how much money you or anyone else will be getting as an inheritance. Instead, start with questions about their instructions for how to handle things after they have passed. This makes the conversation about respecting your parent’s wishes, not the money you might get from their estate.
Among the questions you might ask your parents are these:
- What estate planning, if any, have they done so far
- Is there a will, trust or other estate planning structure in place already?
- Have they chosen an executor or trust administrator?
- If they have a will or trust, did an estate planning attorney help prepare it? (A do-it-yourself will or trust might not carry out their desired goals.)
- Is any of their property co-owned between themselves or with other individuals?
- Do they have any advance care directives in place, such as a living will, power of attorney or health care proxy?
- Have they thought about establishing trusts to help them shoulder the costs of long-term care late in life?
Even if you are not to be named the executor or administrator for either parent, knowing some key details about their estates is important. The executor or administrator may rely on you for answers to questions like where vital documents are located, such as family records and inventories of personal assets. If a major life event has occurred, since as a catastrophic injury or disease, it may be wise to discuss changes to existing estate planning documents.
The Law Firm of Joseph M. Udall, PLC in Mesa, Arizona has broad experience helping elderly people and their children structure comprehensive estate plans. Contact us online or give us a call at (480) 500-1866 for an initial phone consultation.