Legal Documents Everyone Should Know About

Written by Walt Kasmir, Ph.D.

Advocate, Aging Expert, and Globally Sought-After Trainer.

November 16, 2023

The Cornerstones of Advanced Planning

Welcome back to our series on Advanced Planning. If you’re an Adult Child of an Aging Parent, you already know that this journey is filled with both joys and challenges. Last time, we discussed why advanced planning is essential for everyone, not just our aging loved ones. Today, we’re diving into the legal documents that serve as the cornerstones of any solid advanced planning strategy.

The Legal Maze

Legal jargon can be intimidating, can’t it? Wills, trusts, power of attorney—it’s like a foreign language for most of us. But these documents are the building blocks that will support your family’s future. So let’s demystify them, shall we?

Wills: The Blueprint of Your Legacy

Think of a will as a blueprint for what happens to your parent’s assets after they pass away. It’s not just about money and property; it’s about heirlooms, sentimental items, and even the family pet. A will ensures that your parent’s wishes are honored and that family disputes are minimized.

Take Action: Don’t wait for “someday.” Encourage your parents to draft a will now, and make sure it’s updated regularly.

Trusts: More Control, Less Red Tape

A trust is like a magical container that holds assets for specific purposes, like education for grandchildren or long-term care. Trusts offer more control over how assets are distributed and can help avoid the lengthy probate process.

Take Action: Consult a financial advisor to determine if setting up a trust makes sense for your family’s unique needs.

Power of Attorney: The Voice When You Can’t Speak

This document is a powerhouse. It allows someone (usually an adult child) to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of an aging parent if they become incapacitated. There are different types, like healthcare POA and financial POA, each serving a specific purpose.

Take Action: Choose someone trustworthy and capable. This is a significant responsibility, so make sure it’s in the right hands.

The Emotional Weight

I get it; these conversations are heavy. But remember, you’re not just filling out forms; you’re creating a safety net. You’re ensuring that if life throws a curveball, your family won’t be left scrambling in a state of emotional turmoil.

The Time to Act is Now

I can’t stress this enough—the time for action is now. These documents won’t fill themselves out, and the future is unpredictable. Take the first step. Make an appointment with a legal advisor. Have the tough conversations. Your future self—and your parents—will thank you.

Until then, be well and take action.

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