Over the years, he's done so much for you and shared his wisdom (whether you wanted to hear it or not). For Father's Day, this can be your time to give something back to your father: help with developing an estate plan. You can't give him a completed estate plan, but you can gift him your time, assistance, and knowledge in making sure he has an estate plan that protects him, his loved ones, and his legacy.
Starting the Conversation
Having financial conversations with your parents is never easy, but they become even more important as they age. What your father has or has not done in regards to estate planning not only affects him but affects you and your family. After all, you might be the one tasked with making medical decisions for him or taking care of his estate after he is gone.
First, you'll need to find out if your father has done any estate planning. Since estate planning is one of the most overlooked aspects of financial management, he will likely not have an estate plan or that what he has isn't sufficient.
If he says he's had estate planning done, ask him where the documents are so they can be accessed when needed. Let him know that he should review his estate plan annually to ensure it remains up-to-date. If he had his paperwork done a long time ago, you might need to provide him a reference to a new professional Estate Planning Attorney to do a proper and thorough review.
If he hasn't had any estate planning done, either because he hadn't gotten around to it or doesn't feel like he needs one, provide him with the knowledge contained here and the information from our other blog posts linked at the end of this article.
Note that if you feel some resistance from your father about having such a sensitive conversation, try to remain diplomatic, factual, and non-confrontational. If your father simply doesn't feel comfortable having conversations about his health and finances at that time, let him know that you can come back to the discussion later. Then, when he's ready to have that conversation, you will be there to help and listen. Offer to bring in other family members at that time, so everyone is on the same page.
Why He Needs an Estate Plan
Estate plans are not just for the wealthy; everyone should have one. Without one, he cannot choose who receives his assets once he's gone, who carries out the closing of his estate, and who makes medical and financial decisions for him if he becomes incapacitated. In addition, without an estate plan, his estate goes to probate, a lengthy and costly court process that can be highly stressful for loved ones and lead to in-family fighting.
With an estate plan, he controls exactly who his beneficiaries will be and can choose a trusted medical and legal proxy. Assets can get passed on to his heirs easily without going through probate. He is in control of his legacy.
When meeting with an Estate Planning Attorney, they will provide your father with a questionnaire that covers all aspects of his life and finances. This will help determine what he will need to cover in his estate plan. There are key documents your father will need to have for his estate plan: a "last will and testament," a health care power of attorney, a financial power of attorney, a disposition of personal property, and a disposition of final remains. The Estate Planning Attorney might also determine that your father will need his assets put into a trust.
Once the initial estate plan is complete, your father will need to revisit his plan regularly to ensure it's always current, listing all his assets and the desired beneficiary designations. If beneficiary designations change, he will have to make sure those are changed everywhere (e.g., bank accounts, life insurance policies, annuities, and IRAs). An estate plan is an ever-evolving document – it's not a set-it-and-forget-it plan.
We've compiled some more helpful resources from our blog to assist you in your discussion with your father. If he needs an Estate Planning Attorney to help him on his estate planning journey, we can offer him a complimentary initial consultation to discuss his wishes, inform him of his options, and get him started on his path to a secured legacy.
Articles To Help Your Discussion:
And we can help you with your estate plan too!