07/20/2018










How to Avoid Court with Your Aging Parents

 

Judge's Gavel

It is not uncommon for children and their aging parents to have issues. Conflicts often arise (including old, once-settled conflicts) when aging parents begin to slowly decline in health and start needing emotional and financial assistance from their children. Any time there is conflict present, it can escalate to the point where a family winds up in court discussing their issues with a judge. These court costs and attorney fees will not only take out funds from the estate, but are often avoidable.

Even if family members do not get along, there is usually a way to avoid legal battles and keep the conflicts out of the courtroom.

Three Ways to Avoid Going to Court

  1. Organize Legal Documents – Some parents create an estate plan, but if they created that plan 30 years ago and have not updated it, now is the time. Certain life changes can severely alter the effectiveness of those documents – from divorces to changing heirs to medical needs. Children should have their parents meet with an estate planning attorney to revisit their documents and make changes as necessary. Also, parents should have a Durable Power of Attorney and Advance Healthcare Directive. These documents will prevent costly legal battles when the time arrives and a child must care or make decisions on behalf of the parent. The Advance Healthcare Directive will dictate who can make healthcare decisions on behalf of their parents, while the Durable Power of Attorney allows an agent to have legal authority over the estate.
  2. Plan for Care – Most families neglect to think of the future, especially when it comes to long-term care needs. As parents degrade in health, they may need private care or may even need a care facility. These are expensive and if the estate has not planned for these expenses, families may become aggressive towards one another while trying to find financial solutions. If one sibling is burdened with the costs while the others are not, it could create unwanted friction. This can be avoided by having a discussion, creating a plan, and establishing a system for covering long-term care costs.
  3. Use Mediation, Not Courtrooms – If a dispute does arise, mediation is a cost-effective solution. This organized process is conducted by a trained individual. Both parties will meet with the mediator and he or she will offer suggestions and ways to work out the issues. Most family conflicts can be easily resolved in mediation.

Avoid Family Disputes Altogether with a Sound Estate Plan

By establishing an estate plan that covers things like finances, healthcare decisions, and power of attorney, a family can reduce the likelihood that there will be any disputes in the future. Because emotions often play a vital role in these types of disputes, having legal documents in order can stop any attempt for someone to bring a grievance against the estate.

Take control of your estate’s future by meeting with an estate planning attorney. Contact the Law Office of Andrew M. Lamkin today for a consultation by calling 516-605-0625 or filling out an online contact form.



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