Many children help their aging parents with estate planning, whether out of necessity or desire. Getting started with estate planning can present a challenge both for parents, who may be unaware of the reasons to plan or resist making a plan, and for children, who want to help but may not know how.
Starting the Conversation
In some cultures, conversations about death, dying, illness, or estate planning are completely off limits. Children may feel uncomfortable talking to parents about money and future plans, especially since the parents have been the family decision-makers in the past. One way to start the estate planning discussion with your parents is to tell them about your own estate plan or final wishes. You may be able to recommend a local lawyer or suggest that they talk to friends who have been doing some planning. While getting the conversation started can be a challenge, it is worth it to help your parents.
How Much Estate Planning Is Necessary?
Some parents may not realize how important estate planning is for many people. Estate taxes, probate costs, and administration costs can eat up a sizeable estate very quickly, leaving little to children and grandchildren. If your parents fall into any of these categories, they may need more complicated planning than just a simple will:
- One or both parents is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
- Your parents own more than $150,000 in assets or own multiple pieces of real estate
- One or both parents own property located in another state or country
- Heirs live in other states or countries
- Your parents have significant health issues that may require expensive care
These are only a few of the reasons to sign more than just a basic will. Your parents may want to set up a trust, make lifetime gifts to reduce their taxable estates, or make use of many other available estate planning devices.
The Costs of Long-Term Care
Finally, many parents are unaware of the significant costs of long-term care. While lots of older people have Medicare, it does not cover a stay in a nursing home or an assisted living facility. Paying for a high level of care can drain your parents’ resources – and your own. Estate planning, including buying insurance and setting aside funds, can help ease this burden.
Planning your estate? Look to Janet Brewer, Esq. for thorough and thoughtful estate planning advice. Janet’s more than 20 years of legal experience will give you confidence and peace of mind. To schedule a “Get Acquainted” meeting, visit Janet's website or call her office at (650) 469-8206.