ElderLaw News

ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

How to approach your parents about their Estate Plan

The attorneys at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. often hear from children who are concerned that their parents may not have an estate plan in place.

The children are worried that if something happens to one or both parents, the children will not be equipped to assist their parents, and many times the children have no idea where the parents stand financially. Understandably, these subjects may be hard for children to discuss with their parents. The children do not want to appear greedy, and the parents may fear loss of control or independence. Dysfunctional families face additional challenges when trying to assist senior family members.

How can you approach your parents about these issues? First, you should get your own house in order; make sure that you have executed your own will, durable power of attorney, and advance medical directive. After you learn about these tools, then you should be able to approach your parents by referring to your work with an elder law attorney and what you found out. Then ask your parents if they have done the same planning. The goal is to balance safety with independence, and to not wait until an emergency strikes to start planning. Don’t first ask them if they have done a will; this approach may give an impression of greediness on your part, and it can scare away those parents who don’t want to think about their own mortality. Focus instead on the durable power of attorney and advance medical directive; ask your parents who can make financial and medical decisions for them if they cannot make these decision for themselves. You can give the example of a temporary disability that may require someone to help pay the bills or make medical decisions. If your parents already have a plan in place, then see if they will let you know where they keep their documents. If you can, ask to review their documents and get the name of their attorney. The attorney may not be able to talk with you at that point in time, but you will know where to turn in case of an emergency. If your parents do not have a plan in place, then you should suggest that they make an appointment with an elder law attorney. Your parents may let you schedule an appointment for them, but you need to be aware that the parents, not the children, will be the clients of the attorney.

You will also want to know where your parents keep other important documents and things, like safe deposit box keys, certificates of birth, passports, deeds, insurance policies, investment and bank statements, tax returns, Social Security numbers, and medical insurance cards and information. If your parents do not want to share this information with you, then ask them to prepare a list and let you know where the list can be found in case of an emergency. You should assess your parents' current financial situation to see whether your parents have sufficient income and resources to meet their needs. If your parents will not discuss these issues with you, then you should ask a trusted friend of your parents to talk with them to encourage a family dialogue.

Speakers

If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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