We all want the best for our parents, but it can often be difficult to discuss certain topics with them, especially as they grow older. Subjects like assisted living, nursing homes, health decisions and wills can be uncomfortable to talk about, and many adult children avoid having this conversation with their parents for as long as possible. And, once it’s too late, you could have a complicated and potentially contentious process on your hands.
This is why it’s crucial to take some time and sit down with your parents to talk about estate planning and the importance of protecting their wishes after incapacitation or death. Here are just three reasons it’s beneficial for your parents (or parent) to have a will or power of attorney in place.
- Waiting too long to make an estate plan can open your parent’s plans to contest. If they don’t have a will, have an outdated will or even multiple wills, decisions regarding property and asset division can fall to the courts and go through the probate process. Without a will, property division may not proceed the way your parent wanted. Also, it’s best to write a will sooner rather than later, to prevent any individual from contesting the will by questioning your parent’s mental capacity. An attorney can ensure a will is valid, enforceable and properly reviewed and updated over the years.
- You’ll need information and answers. You’ll only know your parent’s wishes and intentions for distribution of their property if you ask now, and not try to figure it out after they pass away. Having a discussion about how they want their assets divided among their loved ones gives you an opportunity to ask questions on behalf of the family and discover any information of which you may not have been aware.
- You and your parents can identify any issues or weak spots. As you discuss your parents’ estate plan, you might find that they haven’t addressed a medical power of attorney, or where they store their online passwords, or other issues that may have slipped their minds. Additionally, an attorney can work with you to ensure all possibilities are properly handled.
With all this information in hand, your parents will have the knowledge to draft a solid will and estate plan that will carry out their wishes as desired.
When a loved one passes away, an experienced probate lawyer can work with you to ensure the will is administered the way your parent wanted. Or, if there was no will or an inadequate will, an attorney can help make sense of it all and work to come to a mutual agreement with all parties involved.
Bonus resource: You can access a history of Tennessee probate records on the Tennessee Secretary of State site.
The wills and estate planning process can be complicated. The probate attorneys at Wagner & Wager can help make it easier – call us today for professional legal guidance. We serve clients in Chattanooga and Cleveland, and throughout Tennessee. Call 423-756-7923 or complete our contact form to schedule a free consultation.