Talking to your parents about estate planning is a valuable task that both you and your parents will benefit from. You may not really want to do it, but if you don’t, it’s going to cause problems for everyone later.
It’s not a fun subject to discuss with your parents because it brings up the unsettling notion of them passing on. If they have already done so, it would be important for them to let you know where important documents like their will, healthcare directives, etc. are safely stored. If they haven’t done so, it is time to consider what happens when they fall ill, become incapacitated, or pass on. It may be difficult to get them to even consider the fact it’s time to create an estate plan as they may say something like, “Me? A will? Come on, I’m still young!”
That’s a perspective that many adults have a hard time shaking: I’ve still got time, I’m still too young, and anyway everybody I care about knows my final wishes.
While they may think all that is true, it won’t mean anything without a plan to formally direct their instructions or wishes. the legal requirements needed to preserve your wishes. And we don’t just mean the end-of-life wishes, either. Proper estate planning can take into account medical and lifestyle wishes should your parents ever suffer an accident or condition that leaves them incapable of making their own decisions both regarding their treatment as well as financial needs.
Where do your parents keep their important paperwork? Where is the deed to the house or homes they own? Title to their car? Where is their medical and insurance information? Where is the will, and when was it last updated? Proper estate planning needs to address your parents’ wishes but it’s important that those they are relying on to carry out their wishes know where the important documents have been stored.
Proper document storage may not necessarily involve a safety deposit box in a high-security building, but if the important papers like these, happens to be stored in a cardboard box under the bed, make sure mom and dad keep you informed about where the box has been placed.
As previously stated, estate planning can address life decisions just as effectively as it can post-life wishes. In the event your parents can no longer make medical decisions, an estate plan can contain documents like health care directives that instructs the treatment they want and healthcare providers and loved ones aren’t guessing what you may or may not want.
This can help eliminate disagreements or fights over who has the right to make medical decisions on the parent’ behalf. If one sibling has been designated decision-making power and has been briefed about the parents’ wishes, other siblings who may disagree at least understand what the parents wanted. If, for example, someone wants to overrule the parents’ wish to be taken off life support, the parents have made it clear and the siblings will have to learn to accept their parents’ decision.
A properly set up estate plan leaves clear instruction on who inherits and how. Passing without a will opens up potential beneficiaries to confusion and the process of probate where the Court will decide who gets what according to the laws of Arizona. Just as they have taken steps to protect their assets in life, your parents need to ensure those assets go to their desired beneficiaries. Don’t be afraid to advise your parents to meet with a qualified attorney like Nicole Pavlik and take steps to get prepared, just in case.