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Do your aging parents have an estate plan that protects them?

Maybe you just finished your own estate plan because your spouse is pregnant with your first child. Perhaps you just watched your best friend struggle through a difficult estate administration process when their only parent died unexpectedly.

There are numerous reasons why you may find yourself considering the legacy your parents want to leave and what happens after they die. Their estate plan or lack thereof could affect your life for years. If your parents haven’t already talked with you in depth about their estate plan, it may be time for you to bring up this topic with them.

Some people think that they don’t need a written plan

Some older adults believe that a written estate plan isn’t necessary. They assume that their kids will handle things appropriately or that state law will manage the distribution of their assets.

Explaining to your parents how an estate plan not only guides the distribution of their assets but protects them in their golden years when they are at their most vulnerable could convince them that drafting documents now is a good decision.

Many people never update their estate plan after first creating it

For many families, the big concern about estate planning isn’t that parents haven’t done it but rather that they did it too long ago. It is common for people to first draft an estate plan when they add children to the family, and they might never go back to update those documents.

However, your family circumstances will have surely changed substantially since you were a child. Your parents may have had numerous more kids, and they may have acquired a lot of personal property since then. An estate plan that reflects someone’s situation decades ago will not optimally protect them now.

Talking to your parents about if they have an estate plan and when they last reviewed it could help you both. They benefit from having accurate, up-to-date beneficiary designations and advance directives that reflect their current medical preferences. You benefit from knowing that they have already addressed all the details.

Bringing up estate planning with your parents may not be fun, but it is an important conversation to have.

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