Many of us travel home for the holidays to see our loved ones. Our brief break from our busy life is just what we need to spend time with the people who are really important to us. But, are the holidays an appropriate time to talk to your parents about their estate planning? It’s family time. Maybe it’s the best time. “Nothing like the present,” as my mum would say. We don’t know when the next time will be that we have a chance to have that heart-to-heart chat. Even a local attorney who has been practicing estate planning law for over 40 years said this to me: “Probate is only for people who don’t plan ahead.” I wrote this down because I took it to heart and I never want to forget it. Sadly, this is the reason why estates end up in probate court.
What your parents have or have not planned in regards to their estate planning will determine if your inheritance is derailed and headed to probate. I regret not asking my father about what his plans were for his estate before his passing. In my story, I briefly explained the reason why it’s a good idea to have this conversation with our parents. So, this is the tough part. How do you talk to them and when is the best time? Also, what questions should be asked? If you do not know if they have estate planning documents in place to avoid probate, then it may be time to ask.
Signs of the Times:
If you have noticed that your parents are forgetting the simple things or seem to be tired or overwhelmed by life and they are noticeably slowing down, then it’s time to chat. There may be early signs of dementia or we may just overlook it as anxiety or we may just simply not have the time to recognize that our parents need help. It’s a good idea to ask these questions and make sure our parents have the right documents in place BEFORE it’s too late. It may be too late when your parent is diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s or suffers a stroke and can no longer understand what you are asking.
Below are a few suggested questions that you might consider asking your mom and/or dad.
If they answer “no” to any of the above questions, then there is still time to get prepared.
As I have written in other articles, a Living Trust will avoid probate, on real estate and other types of property. But, specific steps must be taken in order to ensure that your property doesn’t go through probate.
So, consider having that conversation with your mom and/or dad this week. It will only cost you more if you don’t. Share this article with your family this week or the next time you have an opportunity to ask your parents if they are prepared.
If you or your parents need these important estate planning documents, call us.