As children, it’s natural to depend on our parents to manage the household finances and plan for the future without considering everything involved. For many of us, it’s only when we grow up and take on adult responsibilities that we think about the importance of estate planning. At some point, you may also realize it’s time to check in with your parents about their preparations. Although talking to your parents about the status of their estate plan can be uncomfortable, it’s necessary and could be the beginning of helping them get everything they need.
Set a Specific Time
The dynamics of every family are different, and some parents will be more willing to talk about the subject of estate planning than others. However, in many instances, casually mentioning the topic at a family dinner or grandchild’s birthday party is not usually well-received. Schedule a time to talk to your parents where everyone can focus. You may want to begin by discussing your own estate planning efforts and then ask them about the steps they have taken.
Questions to Ask
Initially, it may be useful to ask what measures they already have in place. They may have older documents that need to be updated to reflect their current preferences as well as changes to the law. If your parents have wills, learn more about them. For instance, many parents have a will and have named their child as a personal representative (executor) but have not made them aware of the designation. Find out who the personal representative of your parent’s will is, and determine if that person is willing to serve in the role. Learning whether your parents have advance health care directives and powers of attorneys as part of their estate plans, is also key. You could also ask about any existing trusts and insurance policies.
Location of Documents and Information
You also need to know where your parents are storing critical legal documents such as their wills, advance health care directives, powers of attorney, trust documents, property titles, account numbers, and financial records. If your parents have this information scattered in different places, you may not be able to find what is needed. Ask them to create a centralized file with this data and store it somewhere that is accessible to you and other essential family members.
Long-Term Care Plans
If you have not discussed long-term care with your parents, now is the time. According to a 2019 Genworth Cost of Care Survey, the average cost of full-time nursing home care is $8000 per month. The survey also found that assisted living and home health care could cost approximately $4000 per month. Medicare does not cover these services. Consequently, someone who requires extensive medical assistance will either have to pay out-of-pocket, have long-term care insurance, or qualify for Medi-Cal (California Medicaid) to cover the costs. It would be best to discuss this topic with your parents and find out their plans for long-term care.
Contact a California Estate Planning Attorney
These are some of the main areas to cover when you begin talking with your parents about their estate planning. However, depending on their circumstances, there may be other issues. Before meeting with your parents, it would be best to talk with an experienced estate planning attorney who can help provide insight and advice. As the conversation evolves, you and your parents will be able to work with your attorney to prepare the right documents for their needs.