When your parents get older, you may have to have some uncomfortable conversations with them. Eventually, when your parents’ health begins to decline, you may need to provide medical care for them and eventually manage their estate.
While it isn’t pleasant to think about what might happen if your parents die or lose their health, ignoring those issues won’t decrease your risk for them. If you don’t already know conclusively, you probably need to sit down and talk to your parents about whether or not they have a comprehensive estate plan in place to protect themselves.
A last will from decades ago may not be enough
Many parents choose to create a last will when they first have children. Naming a guardian and making sure their children have an inheritance is usually a priority for new parents. Too many people fail to take additional steps after creating that early plan.
Your family may have grown. You may have lost siblings due to tragedy. Your parents may have bought more property, created a business or otherwise expanded their assets. If their last will doesn’t accurately reflect your family circumstances and their financial assets, updating it will protect everyone.
Have your parents planned for their declining health?
If your parents currently receive Medicare benefits, they may not need other support as they continue to age. However, those who have to go into nursing homes or who need skilled nursing support in their house will generally require Medicaid or have to pay for those services out-of-pocket.
Medicaid planning can put your parents in the position to get the benefits that they need when they age without losing all of their assets first. They can also protect some of their property, like their home, so that they can pass it on to you as a legacy after they die.
Don’t forget to address the loss of testamentary capacity
If there is one thing harder to consider than your own death, it may be the loss of your cognitive function and independence as you age. So, if your parents don’t address these concerns now, they will be in a vulnerable position if they develop dementia when they get older.
A durable power of attorney will remain in effect even if the courts no longer recognize someone’s legal decision-making authority. You may also want to talk to your parents about enshrining their medical wishes in an advance medical directive so that you will have clear guidance if you have to make choices on their behalf.
As difficult as this conversation can be to have with your parents, highlighting how their estate planning actions now can protect both of them and you may help inspire them to take the necessary action.