How to Help Older Family Members With Estate Plans

April 3, 2019

Many people put off creating an estate plan as long as possible. After all, it may seem like an unpleasant reminder that life does not last forever.

As the Delaware County wills and estate lawyers at Eckell Sparks know, estate plans ensure that assets are handled appropriately after the death or incapacitation of a loved one.

In other words, if you have an older family member resistant to planning their estate, you may want to patiently and lovingly explain what an estate lawyer is, as well as overcome common misconceptions about estate planning. That way, your relative can make the best choice possible when it comes to developing a comprehensive estate plan.

What Is an Estate Lawyer?

A wills and estate lawyer works with clients to not only name an executor or executors, but to document exactly how the executor’s fiduciary duties will look in practice. This involves significant upfront consideration that can prove vitally important when someone dies, gets very ill, or goes into a nursing home.

As you might suspect, lawyers who concentrate their practices on wills and estates spend a great deal of time and effort staying up-to-date on state and federal laws. Therefore, they can provide the wisest council to their clients based on the latest information.

What Are Some Estate Plan Myths?

You may discover that your older parents or other relatives are reluctant to set up a consultation because they believe some of the misconceptions surrounding this niche field of law.

Some of the most widely spread estate planning myths include:

Myth: You have to be rich to need an estate plan. People from all walks of life have estate plans, including those in the lower to middle classes. You may be surprised at how many more assets you or your parents have, including 401(k)s, pensions, IRAs, stocks, bonds, and the like.

When you add in other assets such as real estate and related valuables, you could be surprised at how complex even a seemingly simple estate plan can be.

Myth: Anyone can be named an executor. While this is accurate to some extent, not everyone should be named an executor. A Delaware County wills and estates lawyer asks clients the tough questions to ensure that the right executor is chosen.

For example, a child with poor financial judgment should not be an executor. The same holds true for someone in very poor health or who resists asking for help. In some situations, co-executors may be named, enabling the client to get the benefit of two people willing and able to make tough estate decisions if necessary.

Myth: An estate plan is forever. Actually, estate plans are often changed. When someone gets remarried or divorced, or there is a family estrangement or reconciliation, the entire plan may be revised. You can expect to talk to a lawyer every time a life change happens, in order to ensure the plan still seems appropriate.

Myth: Anyone can write a will. Again, this is theoretically true, but a will written without advice from a lawyer could be fraught with gaps. Even though a handwritten will can be binding, it may open the door for confusion and other issues when someone dies.

Delaware County Wills and Estates Lawyers at Eckell Sparks are Ready to Help Clients Make Smart Fiduciary and Estate Planning Decisions

Do you want your parents to set up a trust? Do they need to prepare a letter of instruction outlining their wishes upon their death? Are you concerned about probate issues regarding a much older sibling who is unwell? Please contact a Delaware County wills and estates lawyer at Eckell, Sparks, Levy, Auerbach, Monte, Sloane, Matthews & Auslander, P.C. You can set up a free, no obligation consultation for you and your older relative by calling 610-565-3701 or filling out our online form. We serve clients across Delaware County, Chester County, and Montgomery County from our offices in Media and West Chester, Pennsylvania.