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Estate Planning for Older Parents: The Role of The Children

Butler Law Feb. 8, 2022

In South Carolina and around the country, more than half of adults do not have any type of estate plan in place for when they pass away. For adult children, this can make losing a parent that much more difficult. Not only do they have to deal with the grief of losing their parents, but they also have to navigate the complex world of probating an estate with no direction. While it is an uncomfortable topic, it is so important for children to speak to their parents about their estate wishes and have a plan in place for when the unthinkable happens.

Don’t Wait until It’s Too Late

Some children wait until their parents are older to begin helping with estate planning. However, aging parents could quickly become mentally incapacitated, or they could have an accident leaving no time to prepare. Speaking with them sooner rather than later will provide an opportunity to make better decisions.

How to Approach the Subject

Understand from the beginning that this conversation could be uncomfortable, but be reminded it is a necessary one. Have a plan that covers what questions need to be asked ahead of time, and be honest about your feelings regarding the estate plan. Let the parents know in advance that you want to have a meeting about estate planning, and make sure all siblings are present for the conversation.

Basics to Cover

It is important that parents have a will in place that explains their wishes upon their death for all property and assets, and discuss the benefits of a revocable trust or transfer on death accounts to disperse assets. Children need to know who the parents will appoint as the executor of their estate plan and the beneficiaries of their assets. The family might want to discuss setting up a meeting with a professional who could explain options to avoid probate.

One of the most important steps in estate planning for aging parents is to identify which siblings will be responsible for what when the parents need help. Determining who will be responsible for their finances and who will take charge of healthcare decisions ahead of time can go a long way in making difficult times more manageable.