For Older Millennials-Encouraging Your Parents to Talk About the Future

If you are a millennial on the ‘cusp’ of the millennial age, then most likely your parents are retired, approaching retirement, or planning (dreaming of) retirement. This being the case, now would be a good time to open discussions about estate planning with them. One technique might be to discuss your goals for developing your own estate plan. If you are married with children the discussion might be a natural one, since grandparents are usually very interested in the future of their grandchildren.

Millennials seem to be in the perfect position to comfortably open up these discussions. According to an AARP survey (AARP Magazine, 2012) Generation Y (also designated as the millennial gen) “is closer to their parents than previous generations…and get more ‘face time’ with them.”

The importance of estate planning is that both you and your parents would want to have plans in place that alleviate any difficult future situation. For example, if one of your parents became disabled, is there a plan in place for you, their adult child, to help in any significant way? Might there be a future need for you to take on their health care or financial power of attorney?

There are many cautionary tales. Medical/Financial Power of Attorney: A husband (who is disabled) had made his wife his sole medical and financial power of attorney. (note the word sole) The wife died suddenly and the disabled husband was left with no one to legally represent his needs. (Many adult children assume that they can just ‘step in’ and make decisions for an ailing parent, but this is far from the truth.) The adult child was only able to obtain the necessary powers of attorney (for the surviving parent) after time consuming legal involvement.

Probate/Contested Will: Another typical scenario is that a parent dies and there is a probate of the will (or worse, there is no will in existence, or the will is challenged.) Besides the grief that an adult child is feeling during bereavement, they also might have to deal with protracted and complex matters of probate and other legal issues. Such scenarios can be avoided or mitigated with a solid estate plan in place.

An excellent article “5 Things to Know About Being an Executor” from AARP Magazine notes that the duties of being an executor (or trustee) is a time consuming responsibility.” In addition, many adult children live in a different state. Each state has specific laws on executor’s legal responsibilities as well as a timetable that must be followed. These can vary dramatically from state to state. Learning what those individual state laws are requires time and diligence (and keep in mind that you must accomplish certain duties and file certain court documents within a specified time period!)  Are you able to travel to another state to deal with the legal issues of the estate?

It is important for your parents to have a plan in place for both their peace of mind and yours. As an adult child, you obviously do not have the responsibility of attending their meeting with an estate planning attorney. However, if you encourage your parents to formulate an estate plan, you have provided them with a powerful tool for their future medical and financial security.

Working to Protect Your Future and Preserve Your Assets, In A Constantly Changing World

Please see my disclaimer at bottom of page and also my column “How I Can Help You”


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About Attorney Barbara Ann Dalvano

Attorney in Denver, Colorado with extensive practice experience in the areas of Estate Planning, Wills and Trusts, Business Succession Planning, Probate, Contract Law.

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