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Modern Estate Planning Blog

Elder Law & Special Needs Planning

How to Have The ‘Tough Conversations’ With Your Parents About Their Sacramento Estate Planning and Long-Term Care Needs

July 27, 2010

For middle-aged folks, estate planning in Sacramento goes beyond protecting your kids and your assets should the unthinkable happen to you. It’s also about helping your parent’s get their affairs in order so you are not left with an absolute financial/ legal mess when they become incapacitated or pass away.

From the desk of Heather Chubb, Sacramento Probate Attorney

If you are a middle-aged adult, you probably think of estate planning as a smart way to protect your children and your assets should the unthinkable happen to you.

And while that is 100% true, have you thought about estate planning as it relates to your parents? Have you considered the responsibilities that will fall on you—the child, when mom or dad becomes incapacitated or passes away?

Many of us don’t think about our parent’s estate plan because we assume they’ve gone ahead and taken care of everything…. the way you are hopefully doing now with your own estate planning.

Yet as I send my clients home to go have the ‘tough conversations’ we’ve tackled in our Peace of Mind Planning Session with mom or dad, they learn nothing could be further from the truth.

So to help you get a few steps ahead and avoid an absolute financial and emotional mess should your parents pass away without a plan in place, here are a few questions you’ll want to ask ASAP:

  1. Do you have a will or trust in place? Not only do you want to find out if your parents have a will or trust, but you also want to know if it’s been updated through the years. Most Sacramento estate planning attorneys do not inform their clients of the need to update their plan every three years…which is exactly why 95% of estate plans fail when families need them the most. So if that’s the case with your parents, get them back into an attorney’s office ASAP for an estate planning checkup.
  2. Have you been named in any ‘legal helper ‘ roles? If you have been named to be your parent’s power of attorney, executor, etc. you need to know where the documents naming you in these roles are—and what to do if called upon in an emergency! This is especially true if you have been named the successor trustee of their trust, as you could be forced to pay out of your own pocket if any serious mistakes are made when distributing their cash.
  3. If you don’t have a plan in place, why not? Do your parents fully understand that without planning, they will either lose their assets or pay a fortune if they every require nursing home care? Do they understand that when the estate tax comes back in 2011, over HALF of their entire estate will automatically go to Uncle Sam if they own more than the proposed $1 Million in assets (which when you add up their property, life insurance, cars, jewelry, retirement, etc. it’s really easy to hit $1 Million these days). Do they understand that no one will have permission to make financial or medical decisions for them if they were incapacitated on a short or long-term basis? And most importantly, do they understand you’ll be left with a huge mess on your hands at a time of great loss and grieving for your family and you’ll have to go to court to sort it out?

Of course as a Sacramento elder attorney and a daughter myself, I understanding having these tough conversations and getting to the bottom of your parents affairs can be easier said than done.

For that reason, I want to invite you to schedule a Peace of Mind Planning Session with me (normally $750) where I will personally sit down with you and your parents to help them get their legal and financial house in order. We’ll face these tough questions together and talk about the next steps in protecting your parent’s assets and safeguarding their end-of-life care.

Simply call 916-241-9661 to schedule your appointment. However, this offer is limited to the first 10 appointments per month so call today!

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