Individuals examining their own estate plans should be sure to incorporate the financial affairs of their elderly parents, tweaking, when necessary, the arrangements they’ve already made.
Here are four critical steps:
- Identify key contacts. Just like you’ve done for yourself, compile the names and addresses of professionals important to your parents’ finances and medical conditions. These may include stockbrokers, financial advisors, attorneys, CPAs, insurance agents and physicians.
- List and value their assets. If you’re going to be able to manage the financial affairs of your parents, having knowledge of their assets is vital. It would be wise to keep a list of their investment holdings, IRA and retirement plan accounts, and life insurance policies, including current balances and account numbers. Be sure to add in projections for Social Security benefits. You can use this information to formulate the appropriate planning techniques.
- Open the lines of communication. Have a frank and honest discussion with your elderly parents, as well as other family members who may be involved. Make sure all of you understand your parents’ wishes and explain the objectives you hope to accomplish. Understandably, they may be hesitant or too proud to accept your help, so some arm twisting may be required.
- Execute documents. Assuming you can agree on how to move forward, develop a plan incorporating several legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, living wills or advance medical directives, and beneficiary designations. If your parents have already created one or more of these documents, they may need to be revised.
Estate planning for elderly parents, which is complex in its own right, is intertwined with your own finances. Contact me at SDitman@BerdonLLP.com or your Berdon advisor for help with developing a comprehensive plan that addresses all of your family’s needs.
Scott T. Ditman, a tax partner and Chair, Personal Wealth Services at Berdon LLP, advises high net worth individuals and family/owner-managed business clients on building, preserving, and transferring wealth, estate and income tax issues, and succession and financial planning.