When we were younger, our parents tried to help us plan for the future to protect our best interests. Now, the time may have come, if you have an aging parent, to assist them in making plans for the future as well. Where do you start? Even though there may be a lot of uncomfortable questions that you have to ask, we have gathered six of the important ones for you to begin this difficult conversation. We hope that these help you and your parents to understand the needs of proper estate planning.
- Do they have a health care surrogate in place?
This may be one of the most important questions to ask. You want to ensure that they may be properly taken care of should they become seriously ill. Having a health care surrogate in place, your parents can empower a trusted individual to make health care decisions on their behalf should they ever become incapacitated. The decision of who to appoint should not be taken lightly. Try to ensure the person that they have chosen is responsible and, of course, is of sound mind.
- Where are the original estate planning documents kept?
If the time arrives when your parent becomes incapacitated or dies, do you know where the original estate planning documents are? The original documents can be necessary and, also, required to commence probate. In fact, if you do not have the original, it may be very difficult to probate the estate according to the terms of the missing will.
- Are your parents’ estate planning documents up-to-date?
To be most effective, an estate plan should remain up-to-date. Estate plans should reflect current living circumstances and major life events. This means that your parents should take the time to periodically review their estate plans for accuracy. It can be especially important to review and update estate plans after major life events such as a birth or a death in the family.
- Have your parents chosen trusted decision-makers?
Talk to your parents about the people they have appointed in their estate planning documents. This could refer to a power of attorney agent, a health care surrogate, or a personal representative. All of these positions put the selected individual in an important position that should not be taken lightly. Help your parents reflect on their selections to make sure they have selected trustworthy individuals who are properly equipped to handle the responsibilities before them.
- If your parents have a trust, is it properly funded?
If not, it could mean a long and expensive probate before you can have access to their assets. To understand it a little better, remember that funding a trust means taking assets that are titled in the individual settlor’s name and retitling them into the name of the settlor’s trust.
- Is your parent working with an attorney they trust?
An estate planning attorney is tasked with the critical job of helping to ensure that estate plans are properly drafted and accurately reflect the needs and wishes of those establishing them. Talk to your parents about the estate planning attorney they have worked with or are working with to help ensure that they are both confident and comfortable with their selection.
For more information on important estate planning questions that should be addressed, our office is here to provide you with much needed answers. Get in touch with us today to schedule a meeting.