Have you had a conversation with your aging parents about their financial future? Many of us will have to at some point and many of us are unsure how to approach this topic, as it can be quite uncomfortable to ask our parents about their estate planning. In the hopes of guiding you in this endeavor, we have highlighted five questions you should be asking your parents to help ensure that they are on the right path.
1. Do your parents have health care surrogates in place? The health care surrogate grants authority to a trusted individual to make health care decisions on behalf of someone else should they become incapacitated and unable to express these wishes for themselves. It would also be a good idea to ask about whether or not your parents have put a living will in place. A living will can outline important health care preferences your parents may have.
2. Have your parents selected trustworthy health care surrogates? Talk to your parents about who they have selected as health care surrogates. It is an important decision and one that merits a thoughtful discussion. The health care surrogate may need to make difficult health care decisions regarding things such as end of life care. This person should not only be trustworthy, but should have at least a basic understanding of your parents’ perspectives on health care, with a focus on end of life care in particular.
3. Are your parents’ estate planning documents up-to-date? An estate plan can be a way for people to help ensure their legacy will go on and that the assets that they have chosen for their family can be accessed upon their death. Estate plans, however, should be up to date to reflect current living circumstances and major life events. You can talk to your parents about how they can update their estate plan. In addition, their estate plan should also reflect their wishes for any type of medical emergency that may arise.
4. Where are the original estate planning documents kept? If the time arrives when sadly your parent dies or becomes incapacitated, do you know where the original estate planning documents are? The original documents are necessary and also required to commence probate. In fact, if you do not have the original will it may be very difficult to probate the estate according to the terms of the missing will. It is best to ensure that these documents are saved in a safe or secure bank deposit box.
5. Is your parent working with an attorney they trust? Having the right estate planning attorney on your side, who understands your unique situation and can advise you appropriately, is absolutely critical to proper estate planning.
Estate planning is a process. There can be many more important questions that come up along the way. Our office is here to provide you with the answers you may need. Get in touch with us today to schedule a meeting.