According to Forbes, nearly half of Americans age 55 and older don’t have a will, even though they agree that having one is important. This is very troubling, especially with more baby boomers reaching senior citizen status, as dying intestate can create a host of legal issues in order for one’s assets to be distributed to surviving family members.
If your parents are reaching or have already achieved senior citizen status and they don’t yet have a will, it’s time that you have a caring, compassionate conversation with them about estate planning. As Northern Virginia estate planners who’ve helped over 10,000 clients since the 1990s, here are our tips on how to approach having this important, yet sensitive, conversation.
Talk To You Senior Parents About The Immediate Need for Estate Planning
None of us like to think about our mortality, but it’s important to remember that tomorrow isn’t promised to us. The longer your parents put off creating a will, the more likely they may become too sick, incapacitated and unable to create a will, or pass away intestate.
Creating a will is a process that takes at least a few weeks to complete in the simplest of cases. This is because to create a will, a person needs to think about:
- Who they want to be their primary beneficiaries to inherit their assets after they’ve passed away.
- Who they want to be contingent beneficiaries in the event their primary beneficiaries precede or join them in death.
- Whether or not they want to earmark a portion of their assets to go to a non-profit whose mission is close to their heart.
Considering these scenarios takes time, as does the process of drafting up a will once these decisions have been made. Therefore, time is of the essence when it comes to planning one’s estate.
Estate Planning Helps Senior Citizens Create Their Advanced Healthcare Directives and Name Their Powers of Attorney
When we work with senior adults on creating their wills, we also help them create an advanced healthcare directive and name their powers of attorneys. These documents are extremely important – especially for seniors who are at a higher risk of developing a medical condition that will make them incapable of making their own healthcare or financial decisions.
What is An Advanced Healthcare Directive?
An Advanced Healthcare Directive (sometimes called a Living Will) is a legal document stating one’s wishes for the type of healthcare treatments and interventions they would like to be taken on their behalf, in the event they are incapacitated and incapable of voicing their desires.
Generally, people choose to legally state they don’t want extraordinary measures taken for life preservation, and instead would want to be cared for in a hospice setting. Whatever your parent’s desires for their healthcare, it’s important to legally document them so that you know how to honor their wishes should they become medically incapacitated. After this document is created, we recommend that it is placed on file with your local hospital in the event it is needed in the middle of a medical emergency.
What Are Powers of Attorney?
When we work with senior citizens on estate planning, we also help them name their Powers of Attorney for making healthcare and financial decisions on their behalf, in the event they’re unable to do so themselves. Individuals can choose to name the same person to make medical and financial decisions for them or different people for each task.
It’s important that these documents are created in the event a person were to become incapacitated, such as from a stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. These documents give the designated parties the authority to make healthcare and financial decisions – such as accessing a senior parent’s bank account to pay nursing home fees – if the parent can’t do so himself or herself.
Contact Us for an Estate Planning Consultation
Once you’ve had this important conversation with your senior parents, you can provide them with our phone number so that they can consult with us about their estate planning needs. We can be reached at (703) 938-3510. Your parents can even get started today with a Free Consultation!