Senior adults and family: Creating an estate plan

Residents of Sayville and other areas of New York may want to learn more about the importance of estate planning. Many people pass away without leaving a will or other instructions to their loved ones. At a time when stress hits family from the loss, this is especially important. If you want to make sure your aging parents have an estate plan, there are questions that you can ask them.

Estate planning

Do your parents have a will? Are there accounts with named beneficiaries or pay-on-death or transfer-on-death accounts? Are there joint accounts with rights of survivorship? If you want to ensure that your parents have an estate plan in place, it is important for you to understand what will happen with their assets after they die. Knowing who is the executor of their estate is also important. The essential estate documents for them to have in place could include a will and trust.

Advance care planning and advanced directives

You also want to help your parents prepare when it comes to advance care planning. Some basic documents include the following:

  • Living will
  • Durable power of attorney
  • Durable power of attorney for health care
  • Provision for anatomical gifts
  • Do not resuscitate order

Where will they keep the documents?

Many parents have told their children that they have wills. However, they do not mention where they keep the wills. The executor has a huge role in gathering documents together. A “life file” may be the solution as part of estate planning. The “life file” may contain the following:

  • Account numbers, names and logins of banks and investment accounts
  • Legal information about the will and trust
  • Details and policies for life insurance and Social Security claims
  • Titles to all assets, including vehicles and homes
  • Medical information and health care directives
  • Birth certificates and Social Security cards
  • Credit card information, including outstanding debts and any recurring expenses, such as subscriptions

This conversation is not easy but is still important

There are many reasons to put off a discussion about end-of-life planning. Discomfort is one. However, families may avoid panic by having this conversation early.

If you or your loved ones need help in estate planning, it may be smart to consult an attorney with knowledge and experience in this type of law. A legal professional may help with the paperwork and answer your questions, offering you more peace of mind.