It’s not easy to watch your parents age. Seeing them slow down and even start to decline physically or mentally can make you think about what happens when they reach the end of their lives. But this makes it all the more important that you have conversations with your parents about estate planning. Discussing the topic while your parents can think and communicate clearly can help you and your family avoid heartache in the future.
Estate planning talks aren’t just about writing wills and creating trusts. You should also talk to your parents about such issues as what kinds of medical treatment they want and don’t want to receive and who should make decisions about their medical care if they become incapacitated.
Understand estate documents — An estate plan can be more comprehensive than just making a will. Your parents may need to have other documents, like a power of attorney, a trust or an advance directive, which is a document that lets each of them appoints a health care representative and leave specific instructions regarding their medical care.
Account for family dynamics — Consider which family members should join in the conversation, such as your siblings and step-siblings and possibly their spouses. Having everyone “in the know” can help minimize disputes later on.
Start slow — If your parents haven’t started any planning yet, you don’t have to go into the conversation trying to solve everything at once. Tread lightly. You can ease into it by mentioning your own estate plan or asking for your parents’ advice on a related topic. This can get them thinking and help them realize it’s time to talk.
Find trusted professionals — Eventually, you’ll probably want to consult with a tax adviser and/or estate planning attorney. Don’t have these professionals present during the initial conversations with your parents, because that can be overwhelming. Have your conversations as a family and then bring in experts for guidance on the details of working out a plan.
Plan for follow-ups — Once your parents create an estate plan, it’s important to keep the documents up to date, especially if anything in your family has changed. For example, a beneficiary named in a will may have passed away or additional beneficiaries may need to be added, so the will should be changed to account for those changed circumstances.
At Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. we are experienced Connecticut estate planning lawyers who can help you and your parents create comprehensive plans that truly reflect your parents’ wishes. You can schedule an initial, no-pressure meeting at our Hamden or East Haven offices by calling 203-745-0942 or contact us online anytime.
Gesmonde, Pietrosimone & Sgrignari, L.L.C. is located in Hamden, CT and serves clients in and around North Haven, Hamden, Waterbury, Bethany, Milford, Wallingford, Prospect, Woodbridge, Northford, Madison, Beacon Falls, Branford, Cheshire, North Branford, East Haven, Naugatuck, Meriden, Ansonia and New Haven County.
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