At some point in your adult life, you may have to take responsibility for your elderly parents’ finances and other needs. If you are an only child, the responsibility falls entirely to you, but if you have siblings that live in Arkansas, should you share this responsibility?
Do your parents have a plan?
Determining whether your parents have already gone through the estate planning process is the first step. If they have, make sure they have essential documents such as power of attorney for healthcare and durable power of attorney for finances. Those documents are necessary if one or both of your parents become incapacitated. If your parents haven’t started the estate planning process, meet with your siblings to discuss how to approach them about drafting a will and other estate documents, such as end-of-life directives.
The sooner you can start these conversations, the better. Don’t assume that one sibling would be better at caregiving, financial or any other tasks that need to be done. Once you have decided who will approach your parents and how you will initiate the conversation, make sure you include them in all estate conversations, and if they are able, let them take the lead.
Emphasize the importance of estate planning
Sometimes, older individuals think only a will is necessary, especially if they have few assets. However, a will is only one part of the total picture. Wills must clear probate before heirs can receive assets designated for them. Placing assets and real estate in trusts may also be a good idea, especially if your parents may face significant health issues.
Explore all possibilities with your parents before you decide what to do. Reviewing any estate documents they may already have may also be in your parents’ best interests.