Estate planning is a sensitive subject for many people, especially when it comes to planning for mom or dad. It can be difficult to think about losing your parents, which is why I find that many adult children in the Orange County area ultimately put off this important task.
Adult children may also procrastinate on mom or dad’s estate planning because of other complex reasons. For example, an adult child who wants to help mom or dad set up will or trust may worry that their parents or other family members could mistake their concern for greed. Or, if the parent has remarried, then even more complex family dynamics can come into play, with the adult child feeling the need to stay quiet, rather than create waves.
Estate planning and elder law attorneys in Orange County see these factors and so many more, but we also see the other side of the coin. When a parent passes away or becomes incapacitated without an estate plan, the fallout can be devastating. It may fall to the courts to determine who should be given power over medical and/or financial decisions for the parent, and the court’s opinion often does not reflect the wishes of those involved.
That’s why it’s so important for adult children and their aging parents to understand that planning in advance is the best way to ensure mom or dad’s true wishes are honored in an emergency.
Procrastinating on your parent’s estate plan is a dangerous gamble, as mom or dad needs to have everything taken care of while they are still able to make sound decisions. Again, most people don’t want to think about losing their mental capacity, but it is very common. And, knowing that your parents are able to make decisions with a clear head doesn’t just reassure the family, it also reassures the courts.
Creating wills and trusts and setting up powers of attorney can also give your parents the sense of control that they may feel slipping away. In order to augment this positive association, it can also be helpful to point out that estate planning:
- Allows them to determine who they want to have in charge of their money
- Provides the opportunity to designate who will receive which assets (or none at all)
- Keeps the courts out of their affairs, saving time, money, and hassles for those left behind
- Ensures that THEIR wishes are the ones that matter
- Minimizes the taxes that will be paid out of the estate
Again, life is busy, and it’s easy to say that estate planning is something that we’ll get to “later.” However, any elder law attorney in Orange County can tell you that “later” doesn’t always come when you think it will. Instead of leaving the decisions (and potential hassles) in someone else’s hands, empower your parents to stay in control by having a sound estate plan.
Remember, we are here to help you with any of these issues, so if you need assistance creating an estate plan for your aging parents, be sure to give us a call at (949) 260-1400 and schedule a Family Wealth Planning Session with the mention of this article.