someone holding elderly parent's hands

Ask The Attorney: My Parents Haven’t Done Any Estate Planning. What Should They Do?

Many families face the reality of aging parents who haven’t engaged in any form of estate planning. At OC Wills & Trusts, we frequently encounter this scenario and understand the urgency and sensitivity required. 

If your parents are in this position, immediate action is crucial to safeguard their legacy and ensure their wishes are respected. Here, we outline the first steps in this critical journey.

Understanding the Risks of Delay

Delaying estate planning can have significant consequences. Without a proper plan, state laws may determine how your parents’ assets are distributed, which can be a lengthy and stressful process for the family. It’s essential to address estate planning proactively to avoid these risks.

Starting the Conversation

Initiating a conversation about estate planning with your parents can be challenging but necessary. Approach the topic with sensitivity, emphasizing the peace of mind and security that comes with having a plan in place. Assure them that the goal is to honor their wishes and protect the family’s future.

Basic Estate Planning Documents

The foundation of estate planning involves several key documents:

  • Wills: A will is fundamental, allowing your parents to specify how their assets should be distributed and who should handle their affairs.
  • Trusts: Depending on the complexity and size of their estate, a trust might be advisable. Trusts offer more control over asset distribution and can help avoid probate.
  • Powers of Attorney: This document appoints someone to make financial and legal decisions if your parents are unable to do so.
  • Advance Health Care Directives: These specify preferences for medical care and appoint a decision-maker in case of incapacity.

Inventory of Assets

Encourage your parents to compile a comprehensive list of their assets, including real estate, bank accounts, investments, and personal property. This inventory is crucial for effective estate planning and ensures nothing is overlooked.

Professional Guidance

Estate planning is complex and varies greatly depending on individual circumstances. Seeking professional legal advice is vital. An experienced attorney from OC Wills & Trusts can provide personalized guidance, ensuring all legal and financial aspects are addressed.

Regular Reviews and Updates

Estate plans should not be static. Encourage your parents to review and update their plan regularly, especially after major life events like marriages, births, or the acquisition of significant assets.

Understanding Tax Implications

Estate planning also involves understanding potential tax implications. An attorney can help navigate these complexities, ensuring the most tax-efficient strategy for your parents’ estate.

Preserving Family Harmony

A well-structured estate plan can prevent misunderstandings and disputes among family members. Clear directives and fair distribution plans can maintain family harmony during difficult times.

Contact OC Wills & Trusts Attorneys to Schedule a Consultation

Estate planning is a critical step in securing your parents’ legacy and ensuring their wishes are fulfilled. Starting this process can bring peace of mind to the entire family, knowing that their affairs are in order.

If your parents have yet to start their estate planning, encourage them to take action now. Contact OC Wills & Trusts Attorneys for a consultation. Our experienced team in Orange County is dedicated to guiding families through the estate planning process, providing expert advice tailored to each unique situation. Ensure your parents’ legacy is protected; reach out to us today to begin this important journey.

Brian Chew, the managing partner of OC Wills & Trust Attorneys, has extensive experience in the areas of estate planning, asset protection planning, business succession planning, long-term care planning, and veterans’ benefits. By devoting his practice to estate planning matters, he has founded a firm that strives to provide exceptional service to their clients by working closely with individuals and their families to create comprehensive and customized estate plans. For the past twenty five years, Brian has served thousands of clients in the matters of estate planning, wills and trusts. If you have any questions about this article, you can reach Brian Chew here.