3 Estate Planning Documents Your Parents Need Right Now

Today, we’re diving into a topic that is close to my heart: estate planning for your parents. As they gracefully navigate their golden years, ensuring their peace of mind (and yours!) becomes a top priority. Whether they raised you the way you want, or showed you how you want to do it differently, as your parents’ age, one of the very best things you can do for your own best future, and that of your entire future lineage – your children, grandchildren, and beyond – is to take great care of the people you were born to or raised by.

The questions you need to start asking now are: How will you help them if they become ill or injured? Who will take care of their bills and make sure their health needs are met? How do they want to be cared for, if and when they cannot care for themselves?

The starting place is open conversation and a power trio of estate planning tools swoop in to save the day: the General Power of Attorney, a Healthcare Directive (also known as a Power of Attorney for Healthcare and Living Will), and the HIPAA Waiver.

Now, let’s break down why these tools are the unsung heroes of comprehensive estate planning for your parents, and how to bring them up so you can support your parents to get them created or updated, no matter how much or how little money they have in the bank.

1. General Power of Attorney (POA)

A General Power of Attorney (or POA)  grants a person you name (often a family member or trusted friend) the authority to manage your financial affairs if you become unable to do so yourself. From handling bills to making investment decisions, the General POA ensures that your financial matters are handled, whether you’re experiencing a temporary illness or a long-term inability to manage your money, such as in the case of memory problems.

If your parents have assets that you must be able to access easily in the event of their incapacity, you may decide that a POA for accessing their accounts is not sufficient, as it can be difficult to get access to bank accounts even with a POA in place, and will require court action. In that case, the best course of action is to ensure that their assets are titled in the name of a trust, with you or someone you trust as the named successor Trustee, who can step in and handle financial matters for your parents, without any court involvement, when needed.

2. Healthcare Directive

It’s possible your parents already lean on you for guidance with their healthcare decisions, and it’s equally possible they don’t share details of their healthcare with you at all. No matter which side of the spectrum your parents stand on, the question of what will happen to their healthcare needs if they become seriously ill can feel overwhelming —  and trust me, it’s even more overwhelming during moments of medical crisis.

Thankfully, a Healthcare Directive allows your parents to explain their medical wishes to guide medical providers and family members on what treatments and life-saving measures they’d like to have, even in the toughest of times. The Healthcare Directive also designates someone to make these medical decisions on behalf of your parents if they’re unable to do so. This trusted individual becomes the advocate, ensuring that healthcare choices align with your parents’ values and preferences.

3. HIPAA Waiver

In the digital age, privacy is paramount – but what happens when privacy becomes a barrier to essential healthcare-related communication? Enter the HIPAA Waiver, the ultimate tool for opening communication roadblocks in times of need.

HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) protects the privacy of individuals’ medical records. While this is crucial for safeguarding sensitive medical information, it can sometimes hinder the flow of communication between healthcare providers and family members, especially for the elderly and those incapacitated by an illness or injury.

By signing a HIPAA Waiver, your parents authorize specific individuals to access their medical information and speak directly to their medical providers, ensuring seamless communication and informed decision-making. This is essential in medical emergencies but is also extremely helpful if your parents need help hearing their doctor or understanding their medical advice.

How to Bring Up Estate Planning With Your Parents

The best way to bring up estate planning with your parents is to get your own planning handled first. Then, let your parents know that in the process of handling your own planning, your lawyer raised the question of whether you were an agent under anyone else’s power of attorney, or named as a successor Trustee in your parents’ Trust, or if you are going to be caring for aging parents at some point.

And, if you have worked with a lawyer and they didn’t ask you those questions, give us a call and let’s review your plan and your parents’ planning to make sure that everything you’ll need is dialed in. This can all get quite messy very quickly, and now is the time to talk with your parents.

Why the Urgency?

You might be thinking, “Why the rush? Can’t we tackle this later?” Here’s the scoop: Life is unpredictable, and procrastination can be a costly gamble. Waiting until a crisis strikes to get these tools in place can lead to a whirlwind of legal and emotional chaos, leaving your parents’ wishes unfulfilled and their affairs in disarray.

By proactively planning ahead, you’re not just checking items off a to-do list – you’re investing in your parents’ peace of mind and yours.

Don’t wait for a storm to hit – schedule a 15-minute call today to learn how our unique Life & Legacy Planning process is designed with your family’s well-being in mind, offering personalized guidance and support every step of the way.

Schedule your call today!

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Spalding Law Office 
570 Bavaria Lane
Chaska MN 55318

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