Talking to older or retired parents about their estate plan isn’t necessarily something we look forward to, but elder lawyers in Orange County have seen first-hand why it’s so important. Of course you don’t want to think about your parents’ death or to come across as insensitive or greedy. On the other hand, though, ignoring these important conversations tends to make things significantly more difficult and expensive down the road.
Is there a Plan in Place?
There are several things that you should know about your parents’ estate plan, the first of which is whether or not they actually have one. If not, you’ll want to start looking into elder lawyers in Orange County to get the process started. Not only will an elder lawyer help with wills and trusts, but they can also help fund retirement, assist with senior living options, and much more.
Who Is the Executor?
Once it’s been established that there is an estate plan on record, it will be helpful to know who has been named as the executor. Because parents don’t always share this information in advance, it can come as a blow to those not chosen. Instead of waiting until feelings are already raw, knowing in advance gives everyone time to accept the decision, not to mention the parents have the opportunity to explain why they made the choice they did.
Speaking of explaining choices, your parents may have asked their elder lawyer to include things in the estate plan that aren’t immediately understood by the heirs. For example, perhaps one sibling is given real estate and another is given cash. By discussing the reasons behind these kinds of choices, the parent can make their reasoning apparent rather than leaving everyone to guess later. This is an excellent way to avoid hurt feelings and familial drama later.
Where Is the Information?
If your parent became incapacitated, would you know where to find their healthcare directive? If you needed to pay the mortgage or car payment, would you know where to send the money and how much? Would you even know what accounts to access? And, if your parent should pass away, would you know where the will was, how to access a safe deposit box, or what funeral home to call?
In order to do any of these things, you need to know where to find your parents’ legal documents. A fireproof safe is a reasonable place to keep them if they’re in the home, just make sure that you (or the person designated by your parent) has the combination or key to the lock. Insurance policies, deeds and titles, and similar documents can be organized into a binder to make them easier to work with when the time comes. Mom or dad’s elder lawyer will be able to help in determining what needs to be included in this binder.
Talking to your parents about this kind of stuff isn’t easy, but it is so very important. It will save considerable time, effort, and potentially hurt feelings later if the family is able to work with an Orange County elder lawyer and get things organized now.