Imagine this scenario. An older man passes away without ever thinking about drafting a will. He has a nephew who visits often and helps with home upkeep. The nephew had always been told that he’d get the house, but no plans were made. There’s now an argument over who really gets the house.
That happens more than you might think. It’s a key reason that estate planning is essential. It’s never too early for your dad to talk to an elder law attorney. When he does, be ready to discuss these five areas.
What Are His Assets and Non-Physical Assets?
Your dad needs to go through his home and build a list of the items he owns that have value. This can be antiques, electronics, tools, art, jewelry, etc. Does he have a home? What about a vacation home or land?
Take note of his cars, yard or farm equipment, and collectibles. He wants a comprehensive list of these assets.
Add to that his bank accounts, stocks, IRAs, CDs, cryptocurrency, and any other money he’s tucked away. He also wants to list insurance policies, such as life insurance, accidental death and dismemberment, etc.
As he goes through these accounts and policies, make sure he’s filled out the beneficiary information on anything that requires this information.
Build a Spreadsheet of Debts
Go through all of the bills he pays. How much is he paying each month, and how much does he still owe? Get mailing addresses where payments are submitted. Make sure you also have the account numbers for those accounts.
Keep this list updated. As he pays off an account or line of credit, he needs to cross it off his list. If he opens anything new, he needs to add the new account to the list.
Don’t Forget the Pets
If your dad has pets, he needs to make sure they’re included in his plans. Would a family member take them? Does he plan to leave money for each pet’s care?
Decide Who He’d Want as an Executor
Your dad needs to designate an executor. This person is the one who will make sure your dad’s will is followed when he dies. He needs to choose someone who would follow his wishes in a responsible manner.
Because death is an emotional time for family members, your dad may not want his immediate family to be the executor. He might find it’s better to choose a friend or cousin instead.
Work With an Elder Law Attorney
Once you have these comprehensive lists, store a copy in your dad’s safe deposit box or safe. You might want to store a copy in your files just in case his gets lost. You also want to schedule a consultation with an attorney that specializes in estate planning.
The attorney can help your dad make sure his assets are divided the way he wants. With transfer on death designations, he might be able to keep many of his assets from going into a costly, time-consuming probate process. Call an elder law attorney today.