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Lombard estate planning attorneysIf you have aging parents, you have probably already noticed a certain amount of role reversal. As children grow to adults and parents get older, it sometimes becomes the child’s job to help his or her parents manage life’s challenges. If you have worried that your parents do not have adequate estate plans in place but are unsure of how to broach the subject, experts have some tips to help.

The Risk of Dying Without a Will

Although they are arguably one of the most important documents a person could write, many people pass away without ever having written a will. When the world famous singer Aretha Franklin died last year at age 76, she had no will or trust to direct how her assets should be handled. Her lawyer explains that he encouraged her to draft a will or trust for years, but she never did. Her four children must now endure a public probate process which could take years. Passing away without a will leaves private decisions up to strangers and impersonal state laws. It can also have a negative financial impact on the decedent’s estate and his or her surviving family.

Start with the “Why” of Estate Planning

When you bring up the idea of creating an estate plan to your parents, make sure they understand why is it so important to have a will. Encouraging your aging parents to draft a trust or will is not about trying to gain more of their money. It is about honoring their final wishes and not leaving important decisions up to strangers. If you have friends whose parents died without an estate plan, you may be able to use their struggle through probate as an example of the turmoil that can result from failure to plan. Remind parents that estate planning allows them to govern who is in charge of their money, designate beneficiaries, ensure their final wishes are fulfilled, and minimize estate taxes.

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Lombard estate planning attorneySome people are just born rich. They are fortunate to be part of a family with wealth going back several generations. Others manage the impossible and win the Powerball jackpot, becoming enormously wealthy virtually overnight. Most people, however, work very hard throughout their lives to accumulate the assets and property that make up their estate. You have probably made sound financial decisions and put in the hours to earn what you have, so when it comes time to decide what will happen to your assets upon your death, you have the right to do so.

Keep in mind, however, that while the right to make decisions about your estate is yours and yours alone, such decisions are not made in a vacuum. The choices you make are likely to have an effect on your family members and loved ones. Whether that effect is positive, negative, or neutral depends on your circumstances and how you handle them.

Eliminating Assumptions

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Lombard estate planning attorneysUnless you are one of those rare, fortunate individuals who inherited a great deal of wealth or hit the Powerball jackpot, you have most likely worked very to accumulate the property and assets that comprise your estate. You have put in the hours, made intelligent financial decisions, and were generally careful when making purchases both large and small. When it comes time to decide what will happen to your estate after your death, it is your right to make such decisions as you see fit.

It is important to understand, however, that while you have the right to make estate planning decisions completely on your own, doing so could lead to problems down the road. For this reason, estate planning experts and legal professionals recommend discussing your intentions with family members and loved ones before finalizing your estate plan.

Preventing Misunderstandings

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