When you are preparing to take care of your aging parents, your attention may be on the practical questions and not on the legal ones. Figuring out your parents’ estate plan and future legal needs should take priority after you sort out immediate personal needs. Their estate planning may directly affect their future care and the money available to pay for it.
Medical Directives and Powers of Attorney
Talk to your parents about who they want to make medical and financial decisions for them if they are incapacitated. Unfortunately, as people get older they may have more and more trouble handling finances and getting appropriate medical care. By signing powers of attorney and a California Advance Health Care Directive, they can choose a trusted family member who will make these decisions.
If you will be the sole caretaker for your parents, you might be the most appropriate person. If your parents are moving into a retirement home or in with other family, ask them who they would prefer to use. It should be someone who knows them well and who has some familiarity with the tasks they will need to carry out (such as banking and paying bills).
Finally, there may come a point when your parents cannot handle daily living and financial tasks on their own at all. You may need to investigate setting up a conservatorship through the courts. A conservator has the legal responsibility of providing for the daily needs of a person with physical or mental limitations.
Wills and Trusts
Do you know where your parents keep their will? Do they even have a will? Now is the time to ask. Of course, your parents may not feel comfortable telling you what is written in the will. However, your family or your parents’ lawyer needs to know where it is kept, in case one of your parents passes away. Family not having the will can stall access to bank accounts to pay necessary bills and slow down distribution of the estate.
If your parents do not have a will, ask them if you can set up a meeting with an estate planning lawyer for them. The lawyer can talk to them about why they need a will and also discuss setting up a simple trust.
Take Care of Yourself Too
When handling so many details for your parents, you might forget to think of yourself. You, too, need an estate plan to protect your parents if you suddenly cannot care for them. Think about who will take over if you have a medical emergency or get sent on a long work trip. Figure out how much of your own money is going to provide care for your parents and your children, and consider setting up a trust that benefits them or your children if you cannot provide funds in the future. When you schedule an appointment with an estate planning lawyer for your parents, you may want to book a second one for yourself.
Planning your estate? Angela Klenk, Esq. and the team at Beach Cities Estate Law couple personalized attention to your estate plan with big law firm experience for a winning combination to give you peace of mind. To schedule a case evaluation, visit Beach Cities Estate Law online or call Angela’s office at (424) 400-2125.