Older Americans Month falls in May, which makes for an important time to consider estate plans. Especially if your dad hasn’t seen an elder law practice to draw up a will or other essential parts of an estate plan. Here is what you need to know.
What is Estate Planning?
Estate planning is a process where you arrange how your assets will be divided after your death, what your goals are if your health changes, and who you trust to make decisions for you. An estate plan includes your will, durable powers of attorney (financial and medical), advance directive, and designation of who you name as beneficiaries.
Why would you need an estate plan? If you don’t have a will, advance directive, and durable power of attorney in place, you risk having the court decide what happens in terms of medical treatments and the division of your assets.
What Are the Steps in Estate Planning?
The first step for your dad is to draft a will that lists how his assets should be distributed and consult with an elder law professional. If he doesn’t do this, the general rule that courts follow is that assets go to his spouse and children. After that, parents, siblings, aunts/uncles, nieces/nephews, and cousins would benefit.
Any Minor Children?
He might also want to have a trust set up to ensure the financial stability of one or more of those beneficiaries, such as a child or grandchild. This is useful if he has a minor child or grandchild and wants to preserve the assets so they don’t get spent before that child is of age.
He might not want those certain family members to gain. He hasn’t spoken to your older brother in decades, so he’ll need to ensure that he takes steps to prevent his son from having a claim.
Meanwhile, his neighbor was by his side the entire time he was ill. His neighbor drove him to every appointment, took him shopping, and sat with him when he felt the worst, even if it was 3 a.m. Your dad wants that friend to get his car and a sum of money. Without a will, his neighbor wouldn’t get a thing.
Create an Advance Directive
It’s a legal document that covers your dad’s wishes for end-of-life care. Would he want to be put on life support or have extraordinary measures taken to resuscitate him? Would he want an experimental surgery or drug treatment that might add a few weeks to his life after he’s diagnosed with a terminal illness? Would he want to donate any viable organs?
Naming Powers of Attorney
This person will make financial or medical decisions for him when he’s unable to do so on his own. A medical power of attorney agent will use his advance directive as a guide.
While there are DIY estate planning forms online, your dad needs to talk to a specialist in elder law. Not every state accepts self-prepared estate plans. If he does any of the steps wrong, he risks his will and other legal forms from being valid in the eyes of the law. An elder law practice is the best way to ensure his forms are legally binding.
If you or a loved one need assistance with Elder Law in Birmingham, AL contact The Alabama Elder Care Law Firm, LLC today. (205) 390-0101