Looking after your parents’ estate with the best of intentions

Are you concerned about your elderly parents’ estate plans and finances? Afraid you will look like a “gold digger” if you ask about their plans? So many adult children are concerned that their intentions will be questioned if they look into their parents’ financial situation. This can be a slippery slope yet not an issue that should be ignored.

How to respectfully get involved in your elderly parents’ estate plans:

Respect the family dynamics

No two families are alike and in our modern world, the term family can take on just about any shape and size. It is important to consider your role in the family before you get involved in matters of the estate. Ask yourself the following:

  • Am I at a place in my relationship with my parents that we can have a respectful conversion?
  • Should I involve my siblings, spouse, and other family members in this conversion?
  • Have I intentionally left anyone out of this conversation that could come back to bite me?
  • Is there another family member who would be better to bring up this conversion with my parents besides me?

State your intentions upfront

Honesty is going to be your best bet when talking about your concerns. Make a list of WHY you are concerned and WHAT issues need to be addressed. This matter is probably overwhelming to you and your parents so, stick with the basics first. Are you concerned you do not know if there is a Will? Are you worried about what will happen to their house if they become too ill to maintain it. Attacking one issue at a time will lead you in the right direction. This usually ends with speaking to an estate planning attorney or going with your parents’ to their financial planners office to “pick their brain”. Gaining access to all of their accounts is an issue for another day. Start by gaining trust and involving professionals so that everything is above board.


Get answers while everyone is in their right mind

When death or crisis occurs, each family member will have their own opinions on what is best. Seniors who are open with their family about their plans have the opportunity while they are still alive and healthy to diffuse future problems that may occur after their death or incapacitation.  Caring for an ill parent or settling their estate once they have passed can start a feud or add to an already existing one. Ask the specific questions you need to gain peace of mind. You may not be the one who your parents’ choose to give their bank account information to, but it is still a good idea to ask them if they have appointed such a person.


Honor thy father and mother or seek a professional

We all know that upholding your parents’ wishes is the very best action you can take when dealing with end of life or crisis prevention issues. This should be done when at all possible. If you disagree with your parents’ plans or feel that they are not in their right mind, do not take action unless you have consulted a healthcare professional or estate planning professional and brought along a family witness. Going against a parents’ wishes can be emotional torture and can affect many family members so proceed with caution.


Dealing with an ill parent or their estate once they pass can be difficult, and having support through your siblings is important. However, sibling feuds can get in the way and cause conflicts during this time. Having your parents’ estate planning documents in order not only ensures their health care, finance and estate decisions are being taken care of, but that your family has a relationship of respect and trust.

by: Jenee Mendillo, Bayshore Home Care


Published Date: March 31, 2016

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