Let’s face it, getting old is tough. Most of us are not there yet, but our parents are. Have you taken the time to make sure your parent’s affairs are in order in case they have health problems or die? Do they have a will and a power of attorney? Have they titled their home and other assets appropriately so they are not tied up in court and subject to creditor’s claims?
I understand it is not a topic most of us want to address, especially with our parents. However, it is something all of us need to look into. One reason the conversation needs to be had is that if your parents have not planned appropriately, you may be the one to have to pay to fix the problem. Second, if they have not taken the steps needed to protect themselves, their surviving spouse may have to unnecessarily spend the money that they need to live. Third, careful planning now may save relationships between other members of the family. The worst fights I have seen in my legal career have been between family members over money. Most of the fights could have been avoided with simple planning.
May I suggest one way to start the conversation with your parents? Why not say, “Dad, my attorney was telling me a story about a family that would get together every holiday to celebrate; however, when one of the parents died without a will, the family fought so much over the parent’s property that they never spoke again. Can you assure me that you have done everything necessary to ensure we don’t have any fights like this in our family?” I know talking about this legal stuff can be uncomfortable, but trust me, fighting those you love is even worse. If you need any other ideas on how to approach an aging parent over these types of issues, please let me know. I have a list of them I’ll be glad to share.