This is the second post in our series about estate planning and advance care. You can read the first post here, which is all about how to get the conversation started with your parents in relation to their estate planning and advance care needs.
It is important to know what types of estate planning your parents have done, so that you can assist them should they suffer trauma or accident.
End-of-life planning is not just about estate planning; it also includes advance care planning. Advance care planning means planning for the possibility that your parents might become physically incapacitated or mentally unsound, resulting in them being unable to make decisions for themselves.
Whether or not you are the chosen executor of your parents’ estate, having this knowledge will help mitigate family disputes that arise from misunderstandings, as well as help you know what to expect.
Do your parents have a Will? A Trust? Accounts with named beneficiaries or pay-on-death or transfer-on-death accounts? Joint accounts with rights of survivorship?
Planning for these eventualities is about more than just knowing what your parents would want. It also means having a set of legal documents in place that can speak for your parents when they can no longer speak for themselves. Without these documents, doctors may be unable to speak with you about your parents’ condition, they may give your parents treatment that they would not have wanted, and your parents may be placed in a situation where they cannot be taken care of financially.
The most important estate planning documents that your parents should have in place are:
- A Will – a document that sets out how they would like their assets and personal property to be distributed after their death.
- An Enduring Power of Attorney – a document that appoints somebody to make financial decisions for them in the event that you lose mental capacity.
- An Appointment of Enduring Guardian – a document that appoints somebody to make lifestyle decisions for them in the event that you lose mental capacity.
Other documents your parents should consider include:
- An Advance Care Directive – a document that outlines their preferences for future care, along with their beliefs, values and goals.
- A Do Not Resuscitate Order – this is generally included in an Appointment of Guardian.
- An Organ Donor Register form.
- A “life file” that contains their important financial, medical, legal and identification information. You should sit down with your parents and prepare this document together, to ensure that all of this information is in a single, accessible document.
It is crucial to talk to your parents while they are still healthy about what their wishes would be if these things happen, because they will be unable to tell you what they want once they become incapacitated. If you wait to have this conversation, it may be too late.
Stay tuned for the rest of our estate planning and advanced care series!
If you have any enquiries about estate planning and advance care, contact Greg Martin of our office on 02 9687 9322.