As time passes and your parents move into their retirement years, they will have some new things to consider. However, they may not realize everything they need to do to plan for this phase of their lives. The good news is that there are actions you can take today to help them get ready. Here are 5 ways to help your aging parents prepare for the future now:
1) Set Aside Time to Talk
Setting aside time to talk to your parents about their plans and goals for the future can help you get a clear picture of their preferences. Once you have this information, it will be easier to assist them with making their future preparations. However, it’s not always easy to have this type of conversation, especially if your parents are used to managing their own affairs. If possible, select a time and place where there won’t be distractions, so you can focus on the issues together. During your discussion, it may help to cover the following topics:
- Where do they want to live? If your parents want to age in place, you can assist them in locating area support services and adapting their home to meet their future needs.
- Have they planned for long-term care? Most people don’t intend to move into an assisted living environment, but it’s essential to prepare for this possibility. To that end, it would be good to review your parent’s long-term care plans with them during your conversation.
- Do they have an estate plan? During your discussion, it would be best to find out if your parents have wills and other crucial estate planning devices in place. If your parents don’t have estate plans, you can help them connect with an experienced estate planning attorney who will assist them with assessing their circumstances and preparing their estate plans.
2) Advance Healthcare Directive
When people think of “estate planning,” they often think the only necessary document is a will. However, estate planning encompasses the use of multiple devices to safeguard different aspects of an individual’s life. Further, some estate planning devices should be prepared long before retirement age.
One critical device that your parents need now is the Advance Health Care Directive. This document allows an individual to leave specific health care directives for their medical providers to follow if they become incapacitated. Another important feature of the Advance Health Care directive is that it allows its creator to indicate the person they to serve as their medical decision-maker. The medical decision-maker will be responsible for making sure the individual’s directives are followed. They can also make medical treatment decisions on the incapacitated person’s behalf as needed. Sometimes, the person who has been designated as the decision-maker does not feel that they can serve in this role. Therefore, it’s vital to plan ahead and help your parents ensure that they select individuals for their Advance Health Care Directives who are willing to perform the necessary tasks.
If your parents don’t have an Advance Health Care Directive, they should get one in place as soon as possible. You can discuss the importance of this device and help them connect with an estate planning attorney who can prepare this crucial estate-planning device.
3) Power of Attorney for Finances
Another important estate planning document your parents will need as soon as possible is a power of attorney for finances. This device will allow your parents to identify someone who can take care of their financial interests if they become incapacitated. The power of attorney for finances will allow the person of your parent’s choosing to pay their bills and manage their financial interests when they are unable to do so for themselves. This estate planning tool will be essential to safeguarding your parents’ financial health if they become injured or ill.
The power of attorney for finances may be as broad or narrow as the creator likes. For instance, if your parent only wants to grant the designated individual control of their personal accounts rather than their business holdings, the device can be drafted to support this preference. Further, the power of attorney can be limited to a specific period of time.
There are numerous factors to consider when creating a power of attorney for finances, and it’s essential to work with an experienced California estate planning attorney when developing this critical device.
4) Discuss Your Parent’s Will and Any Other Testamentary Documents
A surprising number of Californians don’t have a will or any other testamentary document. Your parents may not have had a will drafted for any number of reasons. Often people don’t have a will because they expect that they have plenty of time to get one. There is also a misconception that one is not needed because their family will know what to do with their estate. If you learn that your parents don’t have a will or trust, now is the time to help them get one.
You can discuss some of the benefits of having a will, such as:
- A will gives the testator control over what will happen with their assets.
- A will can help make sure the testator’s final wishes are honored.
- A will allows the testator to designate a personal representative of their choosing to administer their estate and make sure all tasks required during probate are completed.
- A will can help minimize stress on surviving loved ones.
Your parents may also not know about the benefits of a living trust. With a living trust, they can place assets in a trust, benefit from the trust, and serve as the trustee. Further, when a trust is created properly, assets that remain in the trust will not have to go through probate.
Your parents can learn more about drafting a will or trust and their other estate planning options by working with an experienced California estate planning attorney.
5) Updating Estate Planning Documents
When you talk with your parents, you may learn that they have prepared some estate planning documents. Often, people obtain these types of devices, put them away, and forget about them. It may have been years since your parents updated their estate plan. Ask your parents when they last reviewed their estate planning documents and made updates.
If your parents are just now putting their estate plan together, it’s important to talk to them about maintaining current information and updating their devices annually. A lot can happen in a year, and it’s vital that your parents make certain that the documents in their plan have up-to-date information.
At the Law Offices of Alice A. Salvo, we are California estate planning attorneys with the experience you need to help protect your parents’ interests. We can help your parents evaluate their circumstances and determine the best estate planning solutions. Please contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment today.