This year, Mother’s Day is on May 12th (this may serve as a helpful reminder for those who might have forgotten the date—call your mom!). Mother’s Day is a time to celebrate your parents and your kids, as well as anyone else in your family who is or is going to be a mother. Motherhood is a wonderful thing, and it deserves to be celebrated all year, too. There is a way you can celebrate your mom besides the usual flowers, cards, and gifts. You can include her (and your kids) in your estate plan, providing security for years to come. Here’s how:
A Plan for Mom’s Healthcare
Much as we don’t want to think about it, parents get old. They get old, and they get sick. Though you might have great genes in your family that delay this inevitability for a while, aging eventually happens. Your mom might have plans to go into assisted living or a nursing home when she needs to. That discussion is usually a difficult one for any family.
Have you thought about what happens if your mom gets sick? If she is too sick to give instructions to the doctor or nurses attending her, she might undergo health treatment she does not want. A healthcare directive is a way for her to lay out instructions ahead of time. That way, her wishes are honored even if she is unable to verbalize them at the time of care.
A Plan for Mom’s Finances
Likewise, a power of attorney for finance is a way to honor your mom’s wishes for her financial health, if she is unable to direct what she wants you to do with her money. A power of attorney is a trusted individual who will give those instructions for her. The option also exists to select a power of attorney for healthcare as well.
Another important consideration is your mom’s assets, such as her home, car, and other pieces of important property. A living trust is a way to ensure that these assets don’t have to go through probate court. The living trust is a tripartite relationship between a donor (1) who entrusts a trustee (2) with the asset. The third party is the beneficiary (3), to whom the trustee will grant the asset when the donor orders. Setting this up ensures that your mother’s assets are protected from the turmoil of probate court. This trust goes into effect the moment it is signed—not upon death, the way an asset transfer does in a last will and testament.
What About the Kids?
We’ve talked about mom thus far. Now, it’s time to give the kids a mention. For kids, there two major things to consider (among others). The first is guardianship. If you have minor kids and something happens to you, the last thing you want is for them to be raised by an unfit guardian or one with whom they will not be comfortable. Setting up guardianship with a trusted individual will ensure that the kids are protected if something happens to you.
Second, there is another way to protect your kids’ future: education. You can set up an IRS 529 tax-advantaged savings plan to help you save for their college tuition. These plans are state-based, and they are an excellent way to prepare for college and get tax credits/cuts for doing so.
Things to Think About
Above all, remember that communication is key. Talk to your mom, kids, potential powers-of-attorney, and guardians about the estate plan. Make sure everyone is on board before you sign the papers. There should be no surprises. That way, everyone is on the same page and things run as smoothly as possible in the event something happens.
The above considerations and tools are vital to ensuring that your mom and, if you have them, kids are protected in the future. Things happen. People get sick, and, even though that is unpleasant to think about, you need to be prepared just in case. Your mom deserves to have a safe, stable future, and helping her either obtain or update her estate plan is an excellent way to do that. Contact an estate planning attorney to get the process underway as soon as possible.