How to Help Your Parent Plan a San Diego Estate
Planning a San Diego estate can be overwhelming and time consuming. It is important that you have a clear understanding of your parents’ wishes regarding their estate before they pass away; this requires proper planning. If you recognize that your parents are struggling or neglecting to plan their estate, it may be best to give them some guidance. This will help to ease the burden that you will face after your parent has passed.
To begin, be sure that you are putting the health and welfare of your parents first. The process of planning an estate is not centered on the property or wealth, but rather on your parents’ wellbeing. Make sure that there are sufficient funds for them to live out their retirement comfortably, even if their living circumstances change.
Find out or decide who the attorney and financial professionals are and who will have power of attorney if your parents become unable to make their own financial and healthcare decisions. This will give everyone in the family peace of mind, knowing that they will be properly cared for when they are no longer able to make important decisions for themselves. It is a good idea to know where the contact information is kept for any medical, financial and legal professionals your parents are using. This way there will be no last minute scrambling to find important documentation when it is needed. If you are given a copy of these documents, be certain they are stored in a safe place and that there is a second copy available in another secure location.
Take the time to listen to your parents’ wishes and get them on paper. There is no better way to discover what your parents want for their estate then to sit down and discuss it. Once you have a clear understanding of their wants, it is time to create a will and, even better, a trust. If your parents already have a will and/or trust, be sure that it is recent. If it is more then five years old, they may want to review it to verify that it is still aligned with their desires.
Help your parents monitor for financial abuse. The elderly are often the target of financial exploitation, aimed at deceiving them out of their money and property. You should assist your parents by keeping an eye out for indicators of potential fraudulent acts. Some of the most common signs are: unusual activity in their bank accounts, including large, unexplained withdrawals and frequent electronic transfers; unpaid bills and missed important payments; and confusion or unawareness about financial transactions. Financial abuse is becoming more of an issue and can occur whether you parents are in assisted living housing or if they are still living independently. It can come from both predatory outside sources, as well as from unscrupulous family members, friends, or caretakers. Take the time to study up on the signs of financial abuse so that you can help your parents prevent it.
A client outside of the San Diego area contacted me recently because her Grandmother had passed away. She shared with me that two months earlier her Grandmother had taken out a reverse mortgage. Over one hundred twenty thousand dollars was placed in a bank account. The bank account was in her Grandmother’s name and the caregiver’s name. In just a few months, the money disappeared. And the house’s deed was taken out of the trust and put into the name of the Grandmother. This has caused legal issues for the granddaughter, who is trustee of her Grandmother’s trust. Now the courts will need to be petitioned to put the title of the house back into the trust. This is called a Heggstaad petition and will be addressed by a San Diego Attorney. Chances are the courts will approve the petition. A San Diego Heggstaad petition can take 30-60 days.
If your parent sets boundaries, even if you believe you are keeping their best interest in mind, it is important to be respectful of them. If they are sure they do not need your assistance and they are mentally competent, then do not push the matter. Your parent may already have a plan in place and of course, it’s best to be respectful of it.
You may find that your parent is not comfortable discussing the estate plan with you, but would still like the help of a professional in the field. I’m Kim Ward, the San Diego Probate and Trust Real Estate Advisor. I will refer you to a trustworthy San Diego Attorney and, when the time comes, will help you to sell the estate property with ease. Call me at (619)741-0111.