Thinking about the end of your life is never easy. Unfortunately, many people avoid planning for the end of life because it can be uncomfortable. No one can predict what may happen tomorrow, next week, or next year, so it’s best to address estate planning with your parent as soon as possible.
Before we discuss how to broach estate planning for elderly parents, let’s review why it is so important. Then, we’ll explain how an elder estate planning attorney can help your parent decide which documents should go into their estate plan, and how their goals can be achieved.
Why Estate Planning for Elderly Parents is Important
Most people don’t have an estate plan or end of life care plan. In fact, most people (around 68%) don’t have a will or any other directive to explain their final wishes. Without a written plan, your family may face confrontations, confusion, and second-guessing about what your parent wanted.
A well-thought-out plan can bring a family closer together, avoid future arguments, and provide peace of mind that a parent will be properly cared for and their wishes will be respected. A compassionate Michigan elder estate planning attorney at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras can help you draft personalized documents that adhere to your final wishes. We can also lead or simply mediate a discussion to help your parent understand their options and raise issues you might not have considered.
Also, a well-crafted estate plan can help your beneficiaries minimize or avoid legal probate altogether. Together we can draft documents and propose various legal procedures to ensure your estate will transfer directly to your heirs. A solid estate plan helps your family avoid the time-consuming and often expensive probate court process.
How to Begin a Conversation About Planning for the End of Life
Depending on your family dynamics, your elderly parent may openly discuss their financial situation and end of life wishes. Other families don’t share this type of information easily. Consider these options when it’s time to discuss an estate plan:
Do Your Own Planning First to Set a Good Example -
It’s never too early to plan for your own future. Create your own estate plan and tell your parent that your estate planning lawyer suggested that you advise your family members about your plan. Ask your parent if they have a plan or if they need any help with their plan or would like a referral to your lawyer. Or, ask if there is anything you should know about your parent’s plan that could affect your estate planning.
If You Don’t Have an Estate Plan But Your Parent Might -
Tell your parent that you are thinking about your estate planning and ask if they would recommend their estate planning attorney. Ask if their plan needs to be updated or revised because of new family members or a change in assets. Let your parent know that you support their plan and are willing to help however you can.
If Neither of You Has a Plan for Handling Your Affairs After You Die -
Talk to your parent about creating an end of life planning checklist together. Explain how important end of life planning is and that you want to share peace of mind with them. Contact an estate planning lawyer together to start the process. Be supportive and focus on sharing the experience, not just finalizing their plans.
Helpful Tips to Improve the Conversation About End of Life and Estate Planning -
You don’t have to discuss specific dollar amounts or personal bequests at the start. Begin by talking in general terms. Explain why it’s important to have their assets and debts organized.
Encourage them to start thinking about who they trust to make financial and medical decisions in the future.
Remind your parent that their plan can reduce family stress and controversy and bring peace of mind to the ones they love after they are gone.
Offer to help them through the planning process however they want, but assure them you are not there to force any decisions.
You may need more than one conversation about this topic. Take notes to keep track of any decisions made or issues to research.
Involve other family members especially siblings if they want to be a part of the process. Or, if that would be overwhelming for your parent, notify others that you are having this conversation and keep them in the loop.
Empower your parent to make these important decisions while they still can, give them peace of mind that their wishes will be followed, and help avoid family strife.
Encourage your parent to speak with a qualified lawyer when they are ready, especially if they want to keep their estate issues private from the family.
What Does an Estate and Elder Care Plan Contain?
In general terms, estate planning provides written directions regarding financial, medical, and personal wishes. Depending on your parent, their checklist may cover:
Medical decisions including the use of certain treatment options and life-saving methods,
Who is responsible for making medical decisions if your parent is unable,
Long-term care concerns if a nursing home becomes necessary,
Should they have a will or trust,
Who should be named Durable Power of Attorney for financial matters,
How the estate will be divided,
Special relationships and bequests including charitable donations,
Who should be named personal representative of the estate or successor trustee if a trust is involved,
Which Michigan elder estate planning lawyer or law firm should draft the plan, and
Other special provisions as needed.
Without a final plan, the estate process can be complicated, time-consuming, expensive, and divisive among the remaining family members forced to guess what their parent would have wanted. With the proper end of life planning, the process can be fairly simple with less family controversy during such a difficult emotional time.
Now is The Best Time For Estate Planning With an Elderly Parent
The compassionate team of elder estate planning attorneys at Barron, Rosenberg, Mayoras & Mayoras understands that talking about end of life and estate planning with your parent can be complicated, challenging, and downright uncomfortable. We are here to help.Our experienced estate planning lawyers can walk you and your parent through the planning process step by step. We have been providing estate services for clients in Oakland County and beyond for more than 40 years. We enjoy working with adult children concerned about estate planning for elderly parents and other related legal issues. Call 248-641-7070 or fill out our simple online form to schedule an appointment today.