Have you talked to your parents about their plans for the future? Most likely, they have eagerly shared their retirement goals, their vacation agenda and perhaps even their ideas for downsizing. However, do you know if they have made their final arrangements? Do they have a will? Do you know what their wishes are if they should become incapacitated?
If you can't answer these questions, it may be time for a frank discussion with your folks. On the other hand, according to a recent survey, your parents may believe they have already discussed this with you.
Avoiding future frustrations
About 70 percent of parents believe they have settled matters with their children regarding their estate plans and end-of-life wishes. Nevertheless, about half of adult children disagree. This disparity between parents and children may add to the confusion and frustration that often accompanies the illness or death of a loved one. You and your siblings may find yourselves at odds over very crucial questions.
If you do not know the value of your parents' estate or the amount of debt they have, you may have a shocking amount of work to do when they pass. Like many people surveyed, you may not even know where your parents keep critical documents, such as:
- Powers of attorney
- Life insurance policies
- Property deeds
- Account passwords
In fact, you may not even be certain a will exists. If this is the case, you and your siblings may wish to join together to encourage some family estate planning discussions. Advocates recommend beginning with a basic conversation about your parents' wishes and expectations. From there, you can encourage your loved ones to begin building an estate plan systematically.
Guiding your parents toward security
Not sure where to begin? You aren't alone. Helping your loved one with estate planning can be a daunting task, and for an adult child, it can be a delicate balancing act. Still, 85 percent of parents who have these talks with their children admit feeling relief and peace of mind about the future.
Your parents may wish to begin their estate plan by consulting with an attorney who can answer their questions. Since there are many options and alternatives available to meet the needs of each unique circumstance, your loved ones will certainly want to speak with a New Jersey attorney who will help them make the best decisions possible. When they have their plan in place, you can learn from their example and consider making your own estate plan.