It may be something that you have been avoiding, but discussing your aging parents’ estate plans with them is a very important task. Did you know that this conversation could help with their protection and future legacy in the event they get sick or in the event of their death? We know it may be difficult, so we have rounded up several questions that can help guide you through the conversation.
1. Do you have a health care surrogate in place?
A health care surrogate grants authority to another to make health care decisions on behalf of a person who has become incapcitated and unable to communicate health care decisions for himself or herself. Putting a health care surrogate in place empowers a person to select a trusted individual to make important medical treatment decisions should he or she be unable to do so.
2. Do you trust your health care surrogate?
Selecting a person that may act as your health care surrogate should the need arise is an important decision. While you may be tempted to default to a close family member or friend, really consider the role this individual may need to play in the event you become incapacitated. This should, of course, be someone you trust. Importantly and more specifically, however, this person must be trusted to make difficult decisions in a way that you would have wanted, separate from his or her own feelings on the matter. This is much easier said than done. If you are in critical condition, your health care surrogate may be placed in a very difficult situation. Select someone who will continue to advocate for your wishes even in the toughest of times.
3. Are you satisfied with your Will?
Estate planning documents, like wills, should always be up to date to reflect your parents’ wishes. If not, and if anything is unclear, the probate court may have to decide issues that come up, which would not necessarily have been the intention of your parents. Try to find out if they are satisfied with their last will and testaments, especially in light of any major life changes that have occurred since they have put their plans in place, such as a birth or death of a family member.
4. Where are the original estate planning documents kept?
If the time arrives when, sadly, your parent dies or becomes incapacitated, do you know where the original estate planning documents are? The original last will and testament is necessary and also required to commence probate. In fact, if you do not have the original, it may be very difficult to probate the estate according to the terms of the missing will. Talk to your parents to ascertain whether they are keeping these important documents in a secure and accessible location.
5. Do you have an attorney that you trust?
Having the right estate planning attorney on your side, who understands your unique situation and can advise you appropriately, can be critical to proper estate planning.
Our office is committed to providing dependable legal counsel on estate planning matters. We are here to answer your questions and support you and your family as you put vital plans for the future in place. Please feel free to contact our office to schedule an appointment.