Reading another blog reminded me how often I am talking with my clients about sharing their estate plan and their health care wishes with their children. But it is easy to overlook the fact that if your parents are still around, you may be the one to have to have that conversation with THEM, as they may not be as open to bringing it us with you.
Your homework for today is to make a date to have this conversation with them. Some of the things you need to find out is:
1. Do they have will, living trust, powers of attorney for financial matters, and health care directives? If the answer is "No" then you need to have them make an appointment with a attorney right away and get something in place" If the answer is "Yes", find out when the last time they have reviewed it and make sure it will still meet their objectives, and if they have a trust, if all of their property is still funded to the trust. If you are not sure, having a trust review by an attorney is a small but very wise investment.
2. If they have them, where are your parents estate plan documents? In the house? In a safe? If so, where the combination? Is it with their attorney? If so, find out who they are and if they still have your parent's documents or have they retired and sold them to another firm? Are they in a safe deposit box? If so - where's the key - is there a power of attorney on hand so that someone will have the ability to access the box to get to their documents?
3. Are you named as the manager of their estate if they become incapacitated? If so, are you okay with that role. If not, do you know who is so that you can contact that person and notify them if/when something happens.
4. Do you know what their health care and end of life wishes are. Having this discussion will alleviate a lot of guilt and uncertainty later.
5. Have they met with a tax planner to identify an estate tax or income tax needs they may have and if so, have they addressed those objectives with that planner.
Spending a bit of time going over these questions with your parents can help identify what needs to be done now to reduce the stress, anxiety and financial burdens of having to manage their estate later from the lack of proper planning and estate plan maintenance.
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