I was recently speaking with a younger couple following one of our live educational events. This couple had a variety of concerns and questions about their own estate planning. However, as we continued to discuss their own estate planning, the questions turned to their elderly parents. This husband and wife couple told me that they had attempted to have this conversation with their respective parents many, many times over the last several years. Unfortunately, they both knew that their parents had done no estate planning and had no will in place.
I discussed with this husband and wife couple about the potential disaster that would occur if their elderly parents died with no will in place. I explained that their assets would pass through what is called intestate succession and have to go through the probate court system. An administrator in charging of paying the bills and settling the estate would need to be appointed and confirmed by the court, all the assets would need to be listed, all of the debts and other bills would need to be listed, a release from Medicaid’s estate recovery rights would need to be obtained, and the administrator would need to maintain a detailed accounting and inventory of all assets, debts, and expenses of the estate before a judge would ever authorize a distribution of the remaining estate assets to the surviving family members. Finally, I discussed with this couple that the entire process would likely last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years or longer and likely cost upwards of $20,000 or more before everything was settled.
For these reasons, I discussed with this couple, the best thing to do is to plan now and arrange your estate in such a way so that the entire probate process is avoided for the family members that are left behind. I explained that these are not easy conversations to have with their elderly parents. However, there are discussions and conversations that must be had in order to protect the family, as well as all the wealth that their parents had accumulated over their lifetime. Therefore, I discussed with this couple, that sometimes the best option is to have this discussion with the entire family present and explain to the aging parents about all the problems that could be left behind for the surviving family members should they decide to perform no advanced planning whatsoever. By having this discussion and putting a plan in place, it ensures that everything will transition smoothly and easily without all of that government intrusion into the family’s private affairs.
If you have questions about estate planning in Tennessee, establishing a revocable living trust or an irrevocable Medicaid trust, avoiding nursing home poverty and Medicaid planning, or any other estate planning topics, then I encourage you to attend one of our free live educational events scheduled this month. At these events, you will hear a lot of real life stories about families that paid thousands of dollars in unnecessary expenses, families that were able to avoid unnecessary expenses, and families that were able to protect their assets from unnecessary nursing home costs and expenses.
I look forward to speaking with you at one of our upcoming live educational events!