Have you had a conversation with your parents about their plans for the future? It may be something that you have been avoiding for a while, but discussing your aging parents’ financial, long-term care, and estate plans with them is a very important thing to do. We know it may be difficult, so we have rounded up eight questions that can help guide you through the conversation.
1. Do you have a health care surrogate in place? A health care surrogate empowers another to make healthcare decisions on behalf of a person who has become incapacitated. Choosing a health care surrogate allows you to choose a trusted individual to make these important decisions should you be unable to do so yourself.
2. Do you trust your health care surrogate? Great care should be taken in selecting a health care surrogate. It should be someone you trust to make critical health care decisions and end of life care decisions on your behalf. It should also be someone you trust to make difficult or unpopular decisions. Additionally, the health care surrogate should be someone you have had discussions with regarding your treatment preferences and belief systems. The health care surrogate should be prepared to enforce your wishes even if your family and the rest of your loved ones are in disagreement.
3. Do you know who will inherit your assets? It can be very important to consider where your assets are going after you pass away. Assets do not just include those that hold substantial financial value, but also those that hold significant sentimental value. Ensuring that you have included these assets in your estate plan can not only work to ensure your assets go to the people you want them to go to, but it can also reduce the chances of loved ones fighting over who gets what after you die.
4. Is your estate plan up to date? You should revisit your estate plan with some frequency after it is established. You should especially revisit it after major life events take place, such as births, marriages, and deaths. This is to help ensure that your estate plan remains an accurate reflection of your wishes.
5. Do you have a living will? A living will can outline your health care preferences, with a particular focus on your end of life care preferences. It can work to ensure that your health care preferences are honored even in the event you should be unable to communicate your wishes for yourself due to incapacitation.
6. Where are your 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 will is 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. It is best to ensure that these estate planning documents are saved in a safe and secure location where loved ones will be permitted to access them when the time comes.
7. Have you designated beneficiaries on any life insurance policies and financial accounts? Designating beneficiaries on life insurance policies and financial accounts will allow these assets to be distributed to beneficiaries without having to go through probate. You can also designate a pay on death beneficiary on your bank account which means the proceeds of the account will pass directly to the listed beneficiary.
8. Do you have an attorney that you trust? Having a trusted attorney to consult with throughout the estate planning process is the most effective way to memorialize and protect your wishes for yourself and your loved ones for the future.
For all of your estate planning needs, our office is here to provide you with trusted legal support. We are here to protect your best interests and that of your loved ones through comprehensive estate planning. Contact our office today to schedule a meeting with attorney Alan Hougum.