Starting the Estate Planning Conversation with Aging Parents

If you got to spend the holidays with your senior parents and noticed that they’re starting to move just a little slower, it’s time to have some difficult conversations. While they’re still healthy, you’ll want to discuss your parents’ wishes for their ongoing care in case they become incapacitated as well as what their wishes are for their estate after they pass away. If they haven’t created a comprehensive estate plan to properly document their wishes, it’s time to encourage them to make that happen. If you have siblings, encourage them to be a part of the process.

If your parents do have an estate plan already, you might to talk about it so you can ask any questions you may have about their wishes. If your parents don’t have an estate plan in place, the topics below may help show them the importance of thinking about their wishes and getting them properly documented in a will or trust.

If you become incapacitated, who do you want to take care of your medical decisions and finances?
A healthcare power of attorney appoints someone to make medical decisions while someone is incapacitated. A financial power of attorney appoints someone to manage finances and make sure bills get paid while someone is incapacitated.

What do you think about quality of life and medical intervention?
An advanced healthcare directive spells out preferences for medical treatment and can provide some guidance to the appointed decision maker on balancing quality of life with medical treatment.

What do you want to happen to your remains when you pass away?
Do you already have a funeral plot? If not, where would you like to be buried? Or perhaps you’d prefer to be cremated? What do you want to happen with your ashes?

Have you made a complete list of all your assets?
When it comes to preparing an estate plan, the first thing an estate planning attorney usually asks for is a list of all assets, as well as how they’re titled.

Have you thought about leaving something to charity?
An estate plan allows you to provide for charitable planning, which can sometimes provide some tax benefits to the estate.

Should you consider a pet trust?
A pet trust includes instructions to an appointed guardian, funding for the pet’s care, and a trustee to ensure that your wishes are fulfilled.

Do you have online accounts that require credentials for access?
It’s a lot easier to access online accounts are listed and the usernames and passwords are included in an estate plan.

Who do you want to help make sure your wishes are carried out when you pass away?
In a will, you name an executor. In a trust, you name a trustee. This administrator uses the will or trust document to manage your estate the way you’ve directed.

Do you have an estate planning attorney?
A referral from a family member, friend, or trusted financial professional can be a good place to start when it’s time to find an estate planning attorney.

If it’s time to have the conversation, the sooner you get started the better because you want to get the process started while you parents are healthy. Their answers to the discussion points aren’t as important as the process of understanding what information goes into estate planning as well as all the situations an estate plan can help guide the family through. The conversation will be challenging for both you and for your parents but having it can help ensure that your parents’ wishes are understood and documented so that you can honor them when the time comes.

Meet with an experienced Florida Estate Planning Attorney
We’ve helped many families through the estate planning process—from the first conversation to finalizing documents. It would be our honor to help yours. Call our office at 321-804-2915 or fill out our contact form and we will be in touch to schedule a meeting.