In Maryland, just as everywhere else in the nation, there is a tendency for people to put off estate planning. Elder law attorneys recognize that there are multiple factors that lead people to procrastinate when it comes to the process.
One of the biggest factors, of course, is that most people don’t want to consider their own mortality, and estate planning forces you to do just that. When it comes to adult children, we are just as guilty of not wanting to think about the inevitability of losing our parents, and therefore, we choose not to push them.
There are other complex reasons that come into play as well. An adult child who wants to encourage his or her parents to set up wills and trusts may worry that the parent or other family members will mistake concern for greed. If the parent has remarried, then even more complex family dynamics can come into play, with the adult child remaining quiet on the subject rather than creating waves.
Elder law attorneys see these factors and so many more, but we also see the other side of the coin. When a parent passes away or becomes incapacitated without an estate plan, the fallout can be devastating. It may fall to the courts to determine who should be given power over medical and/or financial decisions for the parent, and the court’s opinion often does not reflect the wishes of those involved.
Really, having a plan in advance of a tragic event is the best way to ensure it will be handled according to your parents’ desires; and framing the discussion with your parents in this way can be helpful. At a time in life when they are finding themselves with less and less control, it can be reassuring to know that some of the most important decisions regarding health, money, and property are theirs to make.
In order for this to happen, though, parents need to meet with their elder law attorney while they are still able to make sound decisions. Again, most people don’t want to think about losing their mental acuity, but it is very common. Knowing that your parent is able to make decisions with a clear head doesn’t just reassure the family, it also reassures the courts.
Creating wills and trusts and setting up powers of attorney can give your parent the sense of control that they may feel slipping away. In order to augment this positive association, it can also be helpful to point out that estate planning:
- Allows them to determine who they want to have in charge of their money
- Provides the opportunity to designate who will receive which assets (or none at all)
- Keeps the courts out of the process, saving time, money, and hassle for those left behind
- Ensures that THEIR wishes are the ones that matter
- Minimizes the taxes that will be paid out of their estate
Life is busy, and it’s easy to say that estate planning is something that we’ll get to “later.” However, any elder law attorney can tell you that “later” doesn’t always come when you think it will. Instead of leaving the decisions (and potential hassles) in someone else’s hands, empower your parents to have a say in the future both with and without them.
Kinsey Law Group, P.C. was formed to focus on the needs of families. We are dedicated to assisting you in the areas of Estate Planning and Assisted Reproduction/Surrogacy. If you have questions or concerns, you’re invited to call 301-968-1630 or send an e-mail any time, without cost or obligation.
Locations: Montgomery County (Bethesda, Maryland); Prince George’s County (Largo, Maryland) and Washington, D.C.