As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, millions of Americans are finding themselves in an awkward, critical position: their elderly parents need assistance with their estate planning, but they are hesitant to ask for help from their adult children or don’t think they need to plan their estate at all.
This can be a very delicate situation, both on a personal and legal level. Children only want the best for their parents – and they will end up having to handle any issues with the estate that surface after their parents are gone. On the other hand, parents may continue to be private about their financial lives or simply stubborn that the time has come to plan.
How can you help your elderly parents plan their estate?
- Put their health and care first. The most important aspects of your elderly parents’ estate plan don’t have to do with their property or their wealth. Instead, your primary focus should be to ensure that they have the funds to live comfortably and pay for their end-of-life care. In addition, you need to make sure that they have a power of attorney for health care so that someone they trust will be in charge of their health care decisions in case they become incapacitated.
- Set up a durable power of attorney. Sadly, as your parents age, the chances increase that they won’t be able to make their own financial decisions. Setting up a durable power of attorney can give everyone in the family peace knowing that they will be cared for by someone loving and able. It also ensures that they will have complete control until they can no longer care for themselves.
- Understand their wishes. Do you really know what your parents want from their estate plan, or are you just making assumptions? If your parents are able, sit them down and have a serious talk about what they want: from their end-of-life care to their will to their charitable causes. Once you know exactly what their goals are, it will be easier to take the first step toward creating an estate plan with a professional.
- Look for financial abuse. Especially if your parents are in an assisted living home, or especially they will be passing on significant wealth, you should familiarize yourself with the red flags of financial abuse. Are your parents withdrawing unusual sums of money, missing key payments, or becoming confused about their finances? The elderly are also often targets of scams, and you may be the only person who can alert them to the danger.
- Respect their personal boundaries. Even if you believe you are doing what is best for your parents, at some point you have to respect their wishes. If they are mentally competent and understand their actions, and if they are sure they do not need assistance, you may not be able to help them.
- Bring in help. Your parents may not feel comfortable having you help them with their financial planning and end-of-life plan. Or they may not trust that you have all of the answers. They may be more amenable to having an outside professional help, including a tax accountant, a financial planner, and an estate planner.
Taking the first step
We can set up documentation, write any complex agreements, and take other steps together. But you need to take the first step: contacting me. Help your parents examine their options now. Call (650) 325-8276 or get started here at this website.