Taking responsibility for a loved one who is incapacitated or physically weakened can be stressful to say the least. This task can be even more daunting if the loved one is an elderly parent or spouse. Most individuals do not like to contemplate death and having these conversations can be difficult. The first question that you must ask is “Have you seen an attorney to create a will?”
There are a few steps an elderly parent or spouse must take if suffering from a terminal illness such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or ALS. First, the individual must set up a financial power of attorney. Second, the individual must then set up a durable medical power of attorney. Third, the individual must decide whether to have a will or allow their estate to pass intestate. This is the most important consideration and should be discussed at length with an experienced attorney.
There are multiple options an individual may consider when dividing a loved one’s estate. The size and nature of the individual’s assets will determine the method an experienced lawyer will utilize to ensure the estate is allocated according to the client’s wishes. Options include an attested Will with a self-proving affidavit, a Revocable Trust, or an Irrevocable Trust. These are just some of the choices an experienced estate attorney will discuss with an individual to ensure that his property and assets are safeguarded after the individual’s death.
Some estates, even minor estates, may be tricky to control and divide up according to the elderly parent’s or spouse’s wishes so it is wise to consult an experienced attorney to ensure that the estate’s property is properly taken care of after the loved one’s passing. Many people attempt to take the less expensive path by either going on some of the do it yourself websites, or by attempting to make a holographic will. Either option leaves open the likely possibility of an inaccurate or incomplete will. Such mistakes could actually end up costing far more than that initial lawyer would, especially if the estate ends up being contested in court. Your loved ones worked hard their entire lives to accumulate their assets, and it is imperative to consult an attorney who has the expertise to protect their estate.
The job of an attorney is to address their client’s needs by ensuring that an estate is properly documented and distributed according to the client’s precise wishes. Taking the inexpensive ‘do it yourself’ path may result in the needless reduction of an estate or may cause the assets of the estate to pass to relatives that the elderly parent or spouse did not originally intend. If for example a spouse wishes for all of her property in the estate to go to her husband but fills out a form on some website (to save a buck) and the form is defective or does not follow a specific Will’s Act Formality in Texas, then the will could be invalid. If a child contests the document in probate and wins, the property could pass intestate, and the children – not the husband – may receive some or all of the spouse’s estate. Situations such as this occur frequently.
It is important to seek an experienced attorney to ensure that the elderly parent’s or spouse’s property is distributed according to their wishes. Cheap alternatives give cheap solutions, and may create a more expensive problem when attempting to probate the estate. Consulting a lawyer to complete a will may cost a little more, but it is a small price to pay to ensure a loved one’s estate is properly distributed as intended without the considerable stress and cost of unnecessary litigation and related expenses.