As your parents age, it is likely difficult for you and your siblings to consider the future without them, and this often leads to a lack of discussion regarding an estate plan. However, the American Association of Retired Persons reports that the division of assets is usually more successful when siblings discuss matters before the end of an elderly parent’s life.
While the topic is a challenging one, creating an estate plan to assist an elderly parent can prevent future problems and arguments that may have a negative effect on your family unit.
List needs and wants
The first step in creating an estate plan is to meet with the family and list each individual’s needs and wants while making your elderly parents’ wants a priority. There are several issues you can address, including:
- Whether to sell your parents’ home upon their death
- How to split cash assets fairly
- The division or transfer or family heirlooms
These talks need not turn contentious despite the emotions involved. Before the meeting begins, agree that everyone involved will stay calm and discuss any disagreements rationally.
Choose a personal representative
Waiting too long to choose a personal representative, (also called an executor), for your parents’ estate could cause serious problems if they pass without validating the will. When this happens, the estate will likely have to pass through probate, which could take a year or more to complete. If your parents are still of sound mind, ask them to choose and if they are not, choose someone in the family with a responsible attitude.
Creating a united front with your siblings may help estate planning go more smoothly. Remember to plan ahead for this discussion and consider extended family when deciding on the division of assets.