Article 59-Estate Planning Series: Will You Be Untangling Your Parents’ Lives?

Written by Wright Law on . Posted in Estate Planning, Trusts, Will

Recently I read an article published in the Wall Street Journal® titled “The Difficult, Delicate Untangling of Our Parents’ Lives.”   The author and his wife are in their 50s and dealing with the challenges of parents too incapacitated to handle their own affairs. 

Significantly, the frustration was not that their parents needed help.  Most children would consider such help to be an opportunity to repay the sacrifices made by their parents.  (However, parents who plan to rely on their children should not underestimate how significant this burden may be.  Perhaps I will discuss this more in a future column.)

The article explained how difficult it can be to help parents, especially the maze of their parents’ financial estate.  The author stated it was much like being dropped into someone’s living room and told “Here you go, you’re running the house now.”

It is unlikely we, or our parents, will be immune from the complications of life.  For some that will include caring for a chronically ill or incapacitated parent.  At the very least it may mean handling their financial affairs.

So what can be done?  As this article points out, parents should have a “Power of Attorney” in place to give a trusted child (or other person) the ability to handle affairs and talk with the right people when/if that need arises. (Interestingly, the author noted their regret in first attempting to use a form downloaded from the Internet.)

Also, the author encouraged children to utilize a “team,” specifically those professionals who can help untangle the previously unknown.

I would add a third point.  Parents and children must communicate.  I am not suggesting that parents share financial details they are uncomfortable sharing.  However, names of financial institutions, professional contacts and priorities can be shared without giving specific financial detail.  That way, should the need arise for children to step in, there will at least be an important starting point.

© 2016 Steven J Wright  

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