May 31, 2017

How to Properly and Carefully Assist the Elderly with Their Estate Planning

estate planning for seniors

 

It’s not uncommon for clients to come to me with questions and concerns regarding their elderly parents. Clients want to know how to address estate plans with their elderly parents, a topic that can often be uncomfortable for both parties.

In other cases, clients are worried about elderly parents who have the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s and may or may not have an estate plan.  Wanting only the best for their parents, these clients want to know what protections their parents have and if they can still take steps to create a viable estate plan.

Problematic Estate Issues with Elderly Parents

With age comes many problems that can be a set-back to a well-intentioned estate plan. Memory loss and confusion can leave elderly parents without knowledge of what assets they have or where their money or records are kept. In the case of an unexpected crisis that leaves an elderly parent disabled, forgetful, or unable to clearly give directions or have their orders followed through, the child or children face a huge burden. Without knowing what assets, records, or legal documents their elderly parents have in place, the rest of the family is left guessing, surrounded in chaos, confusion, and anxiety.

A Well-Executed Estate Plan Can Eliminate These Worries

 An estate plan that is executed by an experienced estate-planning attorney follows the orders of the elderly parents.  It clearly establishes what happens to the estate, eliminating any guessing, arguing, or confusion and relieving stress and hassle for the younger generation.

What Happens When an Elderly Parent Does Not Have an Estate Plan?

In the event that an elderly parent fails to execute an estate plan, the surviving offspring may have to hire a lawyer and get a court order to access parent accounts.  This is a costly and time-consuming process that ties up the estate and often incurs taxes that could otherwise be avoided by having an estate plan.

How to Approach Your Parents About Creating an Estate Plan

 When discussing your elderly parents’ state of affairs, it’s best to follow these guidelines:

  • Schedule a time to talk to your parents and stick to it
  • Choose a time when your parents are at ease and open to discussion
  • Realize your parents’ objections to discussing their estate, which may include the following:
  • Fear of aging
  • Privacy over finances
  • Fear of loss of security over finances
  • Loss of financial independence
  • Reassure parents that you are not trying to take control over their finances or lives
  • Reinforce to your parents that you respect their choices and want to fulfil their wishes by helping them create an estate plan
  • Understand their reluctance to want to plan for the future and explain that in an emergency, not being prepared with an estate plan can be detrimental
  • Offer to go with them to see an estate planning attorney

Questions to Ask Your Elderly Parents About the Future of Their Estate

  • Have they done estate planning?
  • Who is their attorney? Get contact name and number.
  • What legal documents do they have in their possession and where are they located?
  • Where are their passwords and account numbers? Please let them know you will only use them in the event of an emergency and they will still maintain their privacy over this information.
  • Is there a will, trust, or durable power of attorney for finances and healthcare directive?
  • May you speak with their attorney?

Be Prepared with an Experienced Estate Planning Attorney

Mendes Weed, LLP has been helping clients and their elderly parents create, modify, and execute estate plans that are legally binding.  This process eliminates hassle, confusion, and expenses in the event of a loss and makes sure the loved one’s wishes are fulfilled.

If you or a loved one in the SF Bay Area want more information about estate planning, please give Mendes Weed, LLP a call at 925-390-3222.  We are here to help. Our office is located in Walnut Creek and we serve clients in Walnut Creek, Alamo, Danville, Blackhawk, Pleasanton, Livermore, Solano Counties, Alameda, San Mateo, Santa Clara, and Sacramento.

Disclaimer: The tips and materials provided on this page are for informational purposes only, offered as public service. No information on this website should be considered legal advice or used as a substitute for legal advice. For legal advice, you should contact an attorney directly.