We all have goals and directives that we want to fulfill at the end of our lives, which is why estate planning is so important. Although it’s an uncomfortable topic to discuss, you have to speak with your elderly parents about what they want to happen. Taking the initiative now will help alleviate a great deal of stress and suffering later – take it as a burden of the sandwich generation, you get to take care of your own children and potentially help with your aging parents as well. A little planning now goes a long way towards making things easier in the future for both you and your children.
Our San Diego estate planning attorneys want to discuss four considerations for your elderly parents when creating an estate plan. Ultimately, you need to protect your loved ones by taking care of several challenging situations.
Consideration #1 – Family Dynamics
Your attorney needs to know about the structure and dynamic of your family. They want to understand who’s in the best position to make important decisions for elderly family members. This includes handling medical, legal, and financial matters for someone who falls ill and becomes incapacitated. The estate planning goal here is to eliminate any misunderstandings or conflicts among family members.
Consideration #2 – Reviewing Their Assets
It’s possible that you may have heard bad estate planning advice which talked your out of putting together a list of assets with your parents. In reality, you should obtain a complete list of assets that your elderly parents own, or at very least ask them to create such a schedule and let you know where it is for when the time comes. You also have to calculate the value of their estate and categorize the assets to make sure we know what we’re planning around. Taking inventory of everything is a crucial step both from a perspective of making sure the plan in place covers all owned assets, but also to make sure someone knows what they have and where to find it when the time comes.
Consideration #3 – Advance Healthcare Directives
An advance healthcare directive, also known as a medical power of attorney, is a legal document included in estate plans for any adult. It details exactly how they want to receive health care when they’re no longer able to make those decisions on their own. During the estate planning process, you will notice that there are several estate planning terms that you should be aware of. The document also names a family member or trusted individual to become the person’s healthcare proxy and carry out their wishes. Part of the advance healthcare directive, which is technically a standalone document, will be a HIPAA release to make sure the named agent is able to review medical records and speak with the healthcare team freely.
Here are some directives for estate planning for your elderly parents that you can include:
- Administering or restricting medications that they’ll receive
- Putting them on feeding tubes and defining any wanted guidance around this treatment
- Putting them on life support
- Placing a DNR (do not resuscitate) order, or allowing the agent to do so in the future.
Keep in mind that roughly 30% of elderly adults will pass away with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia. In other words, advance healthcare directives are extremely helpful in facilitating end-of-life care and ensuring that we know exactly who will be able to act and what guidance they will have. Make sure you speak with your elderly parents about how you can help them fulfill their medical requirements.
Consideration #4 – Financial Power of Attorney
There are many reasons for your estate planning to consist of more than a Last Will & Testament. Like advance healthcare directives, the financial power of attorney allows adult children to make crucial decisions for their elderly parents. The document itself will designate someone to handle different financial matters without having to go to court for approval from a Judge. Some examples include:
- Paying monthly and annual expenses
- Maintaining and paying taxes on real estate
- Investing in stocks, bonds, and mutual funds
- Approving transactions via banks and other financial institutions
- Collecting government benefits, such as Social Security, Medicare, etc.
Just like any other person, it’s prudent for your older parents to review their estate plan periodically. It’s always advised that you speak with your elderly parents as well about their financial wishes. Ultimately, your job is to make decisions in their best interests and protect the property/assets that they own. Just make sure this is done through a financial power of attorney ahead of time instead of through a court supervised conservatorship which may be necessary without a proper plan in place.
We Can Help You Prepare
Here at Jenkins & Jenkins in San Diego, we can help you develop an estate plan for your elderly parents. We do everything we can to support our clients and provide them with the tools they need to prepare for the future. Schedule an appointment with us today, and we can help you get started immediately.
Testimonial from Mary, Daughter of Satisfied Estate Planning Client
Michael Jenkins worked on my parents estate plan including re-doing a trust that was done by another firm, creating a will, financial and medical directives, etc. All of which was rather complex given my parents detailed wishes. We consulted with several firms before selecting Jenkins & Jenkins. Michael was hands down the most knowledgeable and strategic. He was able to come up with a plan that protected my parents assets, took into account various tax savings strategy, while at the same time making sure all my parents’ wishes were met. None of the other attorneys were able to do that. In fact, one of the other attorneys told us what my parents wanted was not doable. Most importantly, Michael actively listened, gave suggestions when we were stuck and was very patient and compassionate throughout the entire process. We feel very blessed to have found Jenkins & Jenkins and will definitely refer them to our family and friends and use their firm for all our estate planning needs.