No one likes to admit to getting old. Even when we hit younger milestones of 21 or 30, it’s our favorite complaint: “I’m getting too old!” However, when we reach milestones such as 60, 70 and higher, these are the times where old age truly comes into focus. More importantly, for our parents who have begun (or surpassed) such ages, it comes time to broach the sometimes-sensitive topic of estate planning.
Yes, talking about death is even more uncomfortable than admitting when age has caught up with us. But getting old is inevitable, and your family should do everything possible to prepare for life’s eventualities. If needing to begin the conversation about wills, trusts and power of attorney with your parents, here are a few helpful tips to get you started.
Make Sure Everyone is Involved
Talking to your parents about what must be done after their death can be uncomfortable. Thankfully, this conversation doesn’t have to be done alone. If you have siblings, ensure they are part of estate planning talks from the start.
Not only is it fair to keep everyone in the loop, but having the support of other family members can make talking about death and estate planning a more manageable task. Even if you’re an only child, include close relatives or family friends in the discussion. Estate planning should be a group effort, not something you do alone.
The Sooner the Better
As any attorney will tell you (Essig Law included), the sooner you begin estate planning, the better. While you might not have a complete picture of what life might look like 10 or 20 years later, you also don’t know what surprises each day can bring.
And for your parents who are reaching the latter half of their lives, unexpected illnesses, injuries and other complications become more likely. Thus, it’s crucial to begin estate planning for your parents as soon as possible.
Agree to an Executor and Power of Attorney
Who should be in charge when your parents pass or if they become incapable of making their own decisions? The answer to this question should be something you, your parents, and siblings can all agree on. If you have multiple siblings, sharing the responsibility of overseeing your parents’ care and estate might be the best decision.
For example, the most fiscally responsible member of your family might be better suited for financial power of attorney, another sibling can handle medical power of attorney, etc. Or, if it’s easier for your family to have one individual responsible for general power of attorney and executor duties, that is something to be decided on by everyone involved.
Ask About Documents
You’re off to a great start if your parents have already begun a will and additional estate planning. However, having these documents is only helpful if you know where to find everything after your parents’ eventual passing. This tip might seem like a “no-brainer,” but you’d be surprised the number of times we’ve seen clients have estate planning disputed or managed by a court because a will couldn’t be found. Ensuring you have all necessary estate planning documents is crucial to a straightforward probate process.
Additionally, it’s worth gaining access to important accounts of your parents. Having the account numbers and passwords to bank accounts, insurance policies, etc., helps avoid confusion when dividing assets and assessing what’s a part of your parents’ estate.
Take Care of Personal Requests/Arrangements
Perhaps the most challenging conversation to have with your parents is potential funeral arrangements and burial instructions. However, it’s a topic your parents will likely have a preference for. And knowing their wishes ahead of time can ensure you properly honor them.
Items to discuss are whether they wish to be buried or cremated, where they would like to have their headstone, who they would like to speak at a funeral, etc. While such requests might seem minor, they will mean the world to your parents and those celebrating their lives.
Get in Touch with an Attorney
You can only get so far by discussing estate planning with your parents. When the time comes to implement what was discussed, having an attorney is essential to the estate planning process. Your attorney can ensure documents are legally sound and items such as trusts or power of attorney are correctly implemented. And if you are searching for the right attorneys to manage your parents’ estate planning, you can trust the team at Essig Law Office. We have extensive experience managing the personal affairs of clients throughout Central Illinois. Setting up an appointment is easy, and we’re happy to discuss everything estate planning entails during a free consultation.
To learn more about Essig Law Office and how we can assist with estate planning in Washington, Peoria, Morton, and the surrounding communities, call 309-444-8041. We are located at 135 Washington Square, Washington, IL 61571.