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Protecting Your Legacy

What estate documents should I help my elderly parents obtain?

| May 11, 2022 | Estate Planning |

As a child, you probably had total faith in your parents. When you were a young adult, they were your example for how to establish a career and manage a household. As wonderful as it is to get multiple decades of adulthood to share with your parents, it can be hard to watch them decline cognitively and physically due to the effects of age.

Elderly parents are vulnerable and need your support. They could fall and get hurt while bringing the groceries in or develop Alzheimer’s disease and no longer have the capacity to manage their daily lives. As someone who wants to protect and support your parents, you can help them by assisting with the creation of a thorough estate plan before advanced age affects their testamentary capacity.

What documents do older adults often need in their estate plans?

A will

A will is the most basic estate planning document, and your parents may already have one. It may be time to update the will if they have not done so in the last few years to address changes in family circumstances or their personal property.

A trust

Although people dismiss trusts as documents only required by the incredibly wealthy, they can also protect middle-class and working-class families. A trust could protect your parents’ property from creditor collection efforts as they age. It could also help them qualify for Medicaid if they need to move into a nursing home. A trust will also make probate simpler and reduce the likelihood of estate taxes affecting what you inherit.

Powers of attorney

Advanced age often brings diminished capacity. At a certain point, your parents may no longer be able to manage their own household or make legally-binding decisions on their own behalf. You can help them avoid a loss of control and involuntary guardianship by guiding them through the creation of powers of attorney.

Powers of Attorney allow your parents to avoid the loss of control that comes with a guardianship by naming someone they know and implicitly trust to handle their financial or medical affairs when they cannot.

Advance health care directives

Finally, your parents can provide detailed instructions about their medical preferences. An advance directive can make their stance on anatomical gifts, pain control and life-support clear and easy to follow in the event of an emergency.

Talking to your parents about their existing estate plan and helping them add supplemental documents will protect them as they grow older and you if you support them in their old age.