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How can estate planning benefit your aging parents?

Estate planning can help individuals manage their assets, protect their family legacy and prepare for the future. While people of all life stages can benefit from estate planning tools, specific tools may be especially relevant and beneficial for your aging parents.

Regardless of their current health or financial position, you never know what the future holds. It is important to discuss and plan for any future eventuality early on to ensure that their best interests and wishes are protected. Do you know what estate planning elements you should discuss with your aging family members?

Key estate planning tools for aging individuals

Individuals in different life stages have unique estate planning needs. Periodically evaluate your assets, debts, retirement plans and needs with an estate planning attorney to understand how you can meet your goals and update your strategy as necessary.

Depending on your parents’ circumstances, they could benefit from incorporating the following items into their overarching estate plan:

  • Living will:Even if your parents are in good health, it is a good idea to record their health care wishes in the case of incapacitation. A living will allows them to express their care preferences so that family members do not have to struggle through some of these difficult decisions. In many cases, these disagreements can lead to serious family arguments and strife.
  • Power of attorney:Your parents can choose to name health care or financial powers of attorney. A power of attorney serves as a trusted agent who makes decisions on their behalf in the case of incapacitation. They are required to act in your parents’ best interests and to follow any directly stated wishes.
  • Medicaid planning:This allows aging individuals to financially plan for their potential long-term care needs. Medical or nursing home bills can quickly drain an estate. Medicaid planning allows families to preserve assets and strategically provide for quality long-term health care costs.
  • Updating a will: Wills should be evaluated and updated on a regular basis. If your parents established their final will and testament a few years ago, they may want to update their will to reflect any changes in family structure (marriages, divorces, births or deaths) or changes in their assets. This can help reduce the possibility of a disputed will and ensure that their wishes are carried out at the end of life.

Talk to your parents about their estate planning needs

The above options are just a snapshot of your parents’ many available estate planning options. Your attorney may recommend these or other options to best reflect their estate and goals.

If your parents have not already taken the necessary steps to establish a secure estate plan, take a few minutes to explain how it can benefit them. They may not realize how much control they can have over their long-term health care and asset management if they properly plan for the future.