How to Help Your Parents Create an Estate Plan
Do you know if your parents have a will? According to recent studies, 2 out of 3 American adults don’t have an estate plan, so there’s a good chance that our loved ones simply haven’t gotten around to creating a will or a trust.
While having a conversation with your parents about what will happen after they pass away can feel fatalistic, it’s an important conversation that needs to take place. Experienced estate planning attorneys Matt Guttman and Jamie Reff-Wagner have advice on how to help your parents tackle estate planning with empathy and empowerment.
The Right Approach
“Helping your parents with their estate plan is a process that can and should be focused on empowering them to make the best decisions for themselves to ensure that their wishes are honored if they’re incapacitated or they pass away,” says attorney Matt Guttman.
Creating an estate plan gives your parents the opportunity to legally document their wishes for the future to make sure things will be carried out according to their instructions at incapacity and death.
The key takeaway here? This process should be focused on their wishes. As their child, your role in the process should be to support them as they consider personal and difficult decisions about their assets, family members, loved ones, and the legacy they leave behind.
Begin the Conversation Now
“The best time to begin talking about estate planning is now,” says attorney Jamie Reff-Wagner. "We never know when we may need these kinds of documents so creating a plan today can give everyone peace of mind for the future.”
People often put off estate planning because it can feel overwhelming. However, the possibility of becoming incapacitated or passing away without a plan in place can create a far more difficult, aggravating, and time-consuming situation.
If you don’t feel confident leading this nuanced conversation, the Guttman Law attorneys offer a no-cost, no-obligation introductory meeting to help facilitate the discussion. During a conversation, Matt or Jamie will explain the importance of various estate planning tools (such as wills, living trusts, powers of attorney, and healthcare documents) and provide customized advice based on your family’s unique circumstances.
Work with an Estate Planning Attorney
Much of the overwhelm and confusion that surrounds estate planning can be avoided by working with an experienced estate planning attorney. An attorney who focuses exclusively on estate planning will be best suited to help your parents navigate difficult decisions, consider unique concerns, and create a plan that is customized to their exact goals.
“Take the time to speak with an attorney who focuses on estate planning, even if it’s not our firm,” says attorney Matt Guttman. “They can provide tailored guidance and know how to safeguard against potential issues that might otherwise be overlooked and that could cause big issues down the road.”
Estate planning is an extremely personal process and there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Many estate planning attorneys offer a complimentary consultation so you can begin your journey in a no-pressure, educational setting.
You can contact the team at Guttman Law for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation with Matt or Jamie at (612) 324-4055.
Consider a Living Trust
“Many people are under the mistaken impression that living trusts are only for the super wealthy,” cautions attorney Jamie Reff-Wagner. “The reality is that a living trust is simply a will alternative that avoids probate and can even end up saving your loved ones a lot of money in the long run.”
A living trust is a great estate planning option for many, depending on your parent’s assets, goals, and concerns. A living trust is a tool that states how to manage your parents’ assets and what will happen once they pass away. Living trusts also name a trustee who can take over the management of assets if the creator(s) of the trust is incapacitated or passes away, which can help to avoid often uncomfortable or stressful probate proceedings.
While there is nothing wrong with an estate passing through probate, avoiding probate may be an important consideration for you and your parents. Perhaps your parents don’t want their financial information to become public record; by creating a plan that bypasses the need for court involvement they can keep the details of their estate private.
Alternatively, maybe you or your siblings don’t feel capable of facing a time-consuming court process to settle mom and dad’s estate. These are important questions to consider under the guidance of an estate planning attorney.
Involve Your Parent’s Financial Advisor
If your parents have a financial advisor, a properly designed estate plan should match your parent’s financial plan. If they’ve spent time working on their finances with a trusted advisor, it’s usually a good idea to involve that person in the estate planning conversation.
“We want to make sure that your financial advisor understands how your estate plan can and should be designed to complement your current financial goals,” says attorney Jamie Reff-Wagner.
At Guttman Law, we regularly work with our client’s financial advisors to make sure that their will or living trust works seamlessly with their financial strategy. We welcome trusted advisors to join our clients throughout the planning process.
Now is the right time to start talking with your parents about their estate planning goals and concerns. Do not hesitate to reach out to our legal team for advice and guidance.
To begin helping your parents on their estate planning journey, we welcome you to call (612) 324-4055 to schedule a complimentary consultation or learn more by requesting a free copy of our estate planning guidebook by clicking here.