As an individual having elderly parents, one should be concerned about their welfare and their vulnerability during this critical stage in their lives. A lot of families have undergone huge financial losses due to sudden incapacitation when such a thing is not specifically planned for beforehand. Even as an elderly parent, you should prepare for the inevitable and as well any sudden mental or terminal disease that may render you incapable of making your own personal, medical, and financial decisions, because when disaster hits, your estate may be left in the hands of a person whom you have not willingly appointed, a person who may just see your incapacitation as an opportunity to suck out the nectar from your hard-earned estate.
Estate planning is highly important to families — the parents and children alike. Assuming your elderly widowed mom has a large estate which would eventually pass down to you at her death. You get all merry and excited, little do you know that an estate plan directing this course has not been put in place, and that disaster is lurking at the corner just about to strike. The mental state of your mum suddenly declines, exposing her to manipulation and deception. Then her age long friend or brother comes along and sees this as an opportunity to reap where he did not so. He could easily manipulate your mom into bequeathing a significant part of her estate into his management or ownership, while portraying you the child as the real devil. After all, your mom has fallen into a deteriorated mental state, so why not? You may end up spending huge amount of time and money fighting such a case in court once your parent has been manipulated into signing any legal document. Hence, the need for estate planning can never be overestimated.
As a parent having one or more estate and children, to ensure that your wishes are duly carried out should you become suddenly incapacitated, and that these properties pass down to your heirs in the same manner as you have purposed in your heart without creating problems for your surviving heirs, there are 6 estate planning steps for you to follow to prevent any form of contingencies that may arise in the future.
1. Have a financial talk with your elderly parents as soon as possible
Are your parents gradually aging? Do not sit and watch them do what they like until disaster hits. You can tell them about estate planning before it is too late.
2. Draft a will or a trust
You should create a will or a trust or both, depending on your personal goals and wishes for your estate and family, and these documents should clearly state those wishes allowing no room for ambiguity. You should have one of the estate planning lawyers around you advise you on which of these to use, and also help you in drafting them.
3. Designate a durable power of attorney
Appoint a trusted person, possibly your child or spouse, who would take legal decisions on your behalf when you become incapacitated, giving him or her full access to your bank accounts and passwords. If you do not appoint one, the court will do it for you and the person so appointed may not have your best interests at heart.
4. Establish a living Will
With this document, also called an advanced health care directive, your family knows what your wishes are concerning your terminal illness. Contact an estate planning lawyer to know what terms you can apply in your living will.
5. Bring all important emergency information to the table
All bank accounts in your name, safe deposits, lawyers and advisors, personal doctor’s phone number and all other information needed during emergency should be made known to your family, as this will save them a lot of stress during an emergency involving your health.
6. Educate your children about your estate goals
Let them have a glimpse into what you already have in your will and trust as this will give them a heads up about your plans for them. And just as you have successfully managed your finances up till this point, teach them the basis of financial management and estate planning as they would one day, hopefully, become like you.
Estate planning can never be overemphasized. It is less about your death, and more of setting your house in order and continuing your legacy through your heirs. Are you still at a loss how to plan your estate? Or do you have complicated assets such as jointly owned property in different locations? Then hesitate no further to consult an estate planning lawyer.