No one likes to think about their own mortality or that of their loved ones. However, many an estate has languished in probate for much longer than necessary because adult children of aging parents were not clear on their parents’ wishes.
Having an uncomfortable conversation now can save everyone a lot of unneeded stress, which could undoubtedly be compounded by grief. In fact, you may find that your parents are relieved you chose to broach the subject.
What you need to talk about
As we approach the end of our lives, unique expenses and financial situations tend to crop up. It’s best if your family already has a plan that was agreed upon while your parents were healthy and sound of mind. If you have one or more siblings, you need to establish who will be responsible for what duties and how – or if – those duties will be financially compensated by the estate.
Eldercare is one issue that is often neglected. Do your parents want to move to an assisted living facility when they are no longer able to care for themselves, or will the responsibility fall on the children? Statistically, the burden tends to fall unequally on one sibling, so if the family has hammered out expectations ahead of time, it can save a lot of resentment and strife down the road.
Other things your family needs to decide upon sooner rather than later include:
- Who will help the parents manage investments and retirement income?
- Who will oversee finances if the parents become incapacitated?
- Who will serve as executor or administrator of the estate?
- Who will have power of attorney?
- Who will make healthcare decisions?
- Where are important financial documents kept, and who will have access to them?
Preparing for estate administration
Estate administration can be a complex and emotionally charged task, but with some preparation and legal assistance, the estate can be settled in a fair and timely manner. An estate planning attorney can meet with your family and help you determine what type of estate plan is appropriate.
A legal professional can help you understand documents including wills, trusts, deeds, healthcare directives and more. They may even suggest plans for eventualities you hadn’t even thought of, such as pet guardianship.
Although it is often painful to think of life after your parents have passed on, adequate preparation can prevent hard feelings, family feuds and litigation. If you have aging parents, plan a time for your family to meet and discuss these issues with an estate lawyer as soon as possible.