The Estate Planning and Elder Law Firm, PC
2200 Clarendon Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22201
Attorneys often hear from children who are concerned that their parents may not have an estate plan in place.
The children are worried that if something happens to one or both parents, the children will not be equipped to assist their parents, and many times the children have no idea where the parents stand financially. Understandably, these subjects may be hard for children to discuss with their parents. The children do not want to appear greedy, and the parents may fear loss of control or independence. Dysfunctional families face additional challenges when trying to assist senior family members.
How can you approach your parents about these issues? First, you should get your own house in order; make sure that you have executed your own will, durable power of attorney, and advance medical directive. After you learn about these tools, then you should be able to approach your parents by referring to your work with an elder law attorney and what you found out. Then ask your parents if they have done the same planning.
The goal is to balance safety with independence, and to not wait until an emergency strikes to start planning. Dont first ask them if they have done a will; this approach may give an impression of greediness on your part, and it can scare away those parents who dont want to think about their own mortality. Focus instead on the durable power of attorney and advance medical directive; ask your parents who can make financial and medical decisions for them if they cannot make these decision for themselves. You can give the example of a temporary disability that may require someone to help pay the bills or make medical decisions. If your parents already have a plan in place, then see if they will let you know where they keep their documents.
If you can, ask to review their documents and get the name of their attor-
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