We've all got to face it eventually. Our folks are aging. Perhaps their health isn't good. Maybe they are even really sick. The fact is they will not be with us forever.
How can we help them prepare for what will necessarily happen. Yes I mean when they're deceased. Yes they do need a plan… An estate plan. And so do you in fact.
But let’s concentrate on your parents for the moment.
Here’s some things to think about…
What will happen to your mum if your father dies? Will she be in a position to pay the bills? Will she have accessibility to all of the cash? Will she even know where all the money is?
What would occur if both of your parents die within a short while of each other? It’s an extremely common eventuality.
Do your mum and dad have a will? Do they understand how vital a will is? Do they understand what would occur if they died without a will… Called “intestate”?
What would occur if they could not make medical care decisions themselves? Who would do it? Would the courts have to get involved?
Who will pay for funerals and funerals?
There are several things to contemplate at the end of life. If your ma and pa do not have a plan then you may be the person who must sort things out. Or perhaps worse… The courts may be making all the calls for you. Is that what your mom and pop need to happen?
Yes when a person dies without a will their estate goes into probate and the courts decide what happens to all the assets. Going thru probate may take many months. Who pays the bills in that time?
Time For An Estate Plan
There are a few things that your mother and father should do to be prepared for the end of life.
They Need A Will
First they need to have a will. The will will stipulate precisely what will happen to all their assets when they die. If they want to ensure a certain kid gets the keys to the antique car your dad has been restoring they can do that. Without a will the courts will possibly divide everything similarly among family members. That might not be what your parents really want to occur.
Health Care Surrogacy
Secondly they ought to have a medical directive. Depending on what state they live in this could be called a Health Care Proxy or a Health Care Surrogacy. This is a legal document that specifies who has access to somebody's health care information. Doctor’s and nurses will only give that info to whomever has been declared as the rightful agent. Legally they can not give that info out unless there is this document.
Part of this surrogacy might be a directive for what should happen if your parent gets put on life-support systems. This is referred to as a Do Not Resuscitate Order (DNRO). If someone has a terminal illness and must be put on life support, this document details what should occur. Of course you should have a pretty serious discourse with your mom and pop about this so you understand their wishes.
Power of Attorney
A Power of Attorney gives someone legal control of your mom and pop finances. This person has the power to pay bills if your parent becomes incapacitated. Naturally your parent’s “attorney in truth” should be chosen wisely.
The Power of Attorney can be limited or general. A limited POA only grants specific capabilities and does not permit complete control.
These are some of the legal tactics for preparing an estate plan. Contact a good estate planning attorney to get all the details and help your mum and dad be prepared when the time comes.