Parents’ Estate Plans Should Not Be a Secret
May 5, 2020
Discussions about wills and other estate planning tools can be hard for the parent as well as the adult child. So hard, that some parents or their kids keep putting it off until its too late. This can leave a daughter unprepared for the fact that she was picked as executor and then having to dig through decades of paperwork to hopefully find a will and funeral arrangements.
She will also (hopefully with help from siblings or spouse) need to make arrangements for the funeral, pay bills that come in, authorize spending, and many other details. These issues can conflict with other obligations in her own life, such as caring for a family or covering things at work. This all needs to be done as she goes through her own grieving process.
Three Questions to Ask
There are going to be challenges but getting a handle on these matters can start this process off on the right foot. Here are some important questions to ask them:
Where Are the Estate Planning Documents, Financial Information and Other Important Papers? It is a big help to know where to look for relevant documents like a will. Parents should be comfortable enough to share where this information is located and how it is organized. The information should include details about family finances, bank accounts and other assets.
Who Has Been Named Executor? This is a big job with a lot of responsibilities, and while the intention of the parents is admirable, they should clear it with their choice. A better option might be a neutral third party with experience in these matters.
What Happens if Parents Are Alive but Unable to Care for Themselves? It is common for an elderly parent who cares for the other to fall sick, leaving both incapacitated temporarily or permanently. Estate planning should include choices regarding health care proxy and power of attorney.
A Good Start Leads to A Strong Finish
Armed with the basics outlined above, children and beneficiaries can start making educated decisions that will have a positive long-term impact. This can lead to more harmony and less stress among family members. It may also make sense to work with an estate law attorney here in Florida who can help guide families through this process.