As the American population ages, adult children of seniors are scrambling to help their parents and protect themselves against the uncertainty in the legal system. This blog helps understand some of the options available.
First, two important points worth understanding: (1) Not all estate plans look the same (or should look the same). Plans should be uniquely fitted to the specific person. While some plans focus on simplicity, others may be geared towards helping a family with a special needs or designed for tax-savings. Plans may be designed for a multitude of goals. The main point: they are not cookie-cutter and generally should not be purchased on the internet. Plans should be drafted by qualified attorneys who understand a client’s needs. (2) Don’t be fooled by the term “estate planning.” You don’t need to be wealthy or have lots of property to benefit from planning. Nearly everyone should have a few basic documents such as:
- Wills. A Last Will and Testament specifies how a person’s property will be managed and divided after death. Importantly, it also allows the testator to appoint an executor (the person who is legally in charge of the estate). The Will can also indicate whether a person wants an unsupervised (or “Independent”) court administration, which generally means less involvement by the court and lower fees;
- Financial / Property Power of Attorney. A power of attorney permits the senior citizen to nominate a trusted person to make financial or property decisions for them (which is often done if the senior later becomes incapacitated). These functions might include duties such as handling bank accounts, stocks, taxes or safe-deposit boxes.
- Medical Powers of Attorney. A medical power of attorney allows someone to appoint an agent to make medical decisions if the need arises. Consider a situation where a senior citizen has dementia, Alzheimer’s, or another condition that gets progressively worse. At some point, they will likely be unable to make their own medical decisions and will need an agent acting legally to do so.
- Other Helpful Documents or Planning. In addition to those listed above, other helpful advance planning can include:
- Making banking accounts payable on death to a senior’s chosen beneficiaries;
- Using real property deeds that transfer property automatically upon the death of the testator;
- Trusts that are likely to allow a senior to qualify for government programs that help pay for nursing home care;
- Legal directives that express the senior’s preferences regarding life-sustaining medical treatment if they are in a terminal or irreversible medical condition.
When done properly, most plans are not expensive or difficult to create. Whether you are a senior citizen who feels that you need to protect yourself or the adult child of a senior who may become responsible for your parent’s future care, we can help you. Our firm routinely creates estate plans for people from all walks of life and with varying needs. You can learn more about how our firm drafts estate plans by clicking here. Call us today for a no obligation, free telephone consultation with an attorney to learn more. Estate Planning attorney Chris Parvin can be reached for an appointment by calling (214) 974-8940.
ATTORNEY CHRIS PARVIN is Board Certified in Estate Planning & Probate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Mr. Parvin is the Managing Partner of the Dallas, Texas law firm of Parvin Law Group, P.C. and serves as an Adjunct Professor of Law at Texas A&M University School of Law. Mr. Parvin can be reached by email at [email protected].
Parvin Law Group, P.C. is a Concierge Law Firm in Dallas, Texas with attorneys practicing law in the fields of Estate Planning, Probate, Business Law and Family Law.