You recently spoke with your parents and realized that they had not put together a will or estate plan, which is frustrating because you know that their estate is complex. You don’t want to spend hours upon hours in probate court or to have to work through family disputes when your parents pass away, but you know that might be a reality if they die without an estate plan in place.
While there are state laws that protect you and may help you protect your parents’ assets, it is typically better if they sit down and put together an estate plan in advance. Even something as simple as a will could help resolve conflicts ahead of time.
Is it too late for your parents to make an estate plan?
Rarely is it too late for someone to work on an estate plan, but there is a chance that they won’t be able to if they have already lost their mental capacity to make legal decisions. For example, if your father has had Alzheimer’s disease for many years, he may no longer be in a position to sign legal documents or make decisions about his care or estate.
If your parents are both in good mental health, then there may not be any reason why they can’t make legal decisions for themselves now or even in the future. However, health can quickly change, so the sooner they start the process, the better.
If your parents make an estate plan in old age, how can you protect their wishes?
If your parents make a new estate plan at an older age, it’s helpful to have as many witnesses as possible. Having documents to show they’re mentally capable of making decisions right now is important, too. Doing those two things can reduce the likelihood of will contests or conflicts after your parents pass away, which is better for everyone in your family.
If you need help talking to your family about estate planning, begin with a simple question: “Do you have a will?” That will get the discussion going, and you may want to consider learning more legal options from there.