From the desk of Darlynn Morgan, Orange County Probate Attorney

If you are a middle-aged adult, you probably think of estate planning as a smart way to protect your children and your assets should the unthinkable happen to you.

And while that is 100% true, have you thought about estate planning as it relates to your parents?  Have you considered the responsibilities that will fall on you—the child, when mom or dad becomes incapacitated or passes away?

Many of us don’t think about our parent’s estate plan because we assume they’ve gone ahead and taken care of everything…. the way you are doing so now for your own children.

Yet as I send my clients home to go talk with their OWN parents about estate planning, they often learn nothing could be further from the truth.

So to help you get a few steps ahead and avoid an absolute financial and emotional nightmare should your parents pass away without a plan in place, here are a few questions you’ll want to address TODAY with mom or dad:

  1. Do you have a will or trust in place? Not only do you want to find out if they have one, but you want to know if it’s been updated through the years.  Most Newport Beach estate planning attorneys do not inform their clients of the need to update their plan every three years…which is exactly why a huge majority of estate plans fail when families need them the most.   So if that’s the case with your parents, get them back into an attorney’s office ASAP for an estate planning checkup.
  2. Have you named me in any ‘legal helper ‘ roles? If you have been named to be your parent’s power of attorney, executor, etc. you need to know where the documents giving you this permission are—and what to do if called upon in an emergency!   This is especially true if you have been named the successor trustee of their trust, as you could be forced to pay out of your own pocket if any serious mistakes are made when distributing their cash.
  3. If you don’t have a plan in place, why not? Do your parents fully understand that without planning, they will either lose their assets or pay a fortune if they ever require nursing home care?  Do they understand that when the estate tax comes back in 2011, over HALF of their entire estate could automatically go to Uncle Sam if they own more than the proposed $1 Million in assets (which when you add up their property, life insurance,  cars, jewelry, etc. it’s really easy to hit $1 Million these days).   Do they understand that no one will have permission to make financial or medical decisions for them if they were incapacitated on a short or long-term basis?  And most importantly, do they understand you’ll be left with a huge mess on your hands at a time of great loss and grieving for your family?

Of course as an Orange County probate attorney and a daughter myself, I understanding having these tough conversations and getting to the bottom of your parents affairs can be easier said than done.

For that reason, I want to invite you to schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with me (normally $750) where I will personally sit down with you and your parents to help them get their legal and financial house in order.  We’ll face these tough questions together and talk about the next steps in protecting your parent’s assets and safeguarding their end-of-life care.

Simply call 949-260-1400 to schedule your appointment.  However, this offer is limited to the first 10 appointments per month so call today!