Recently there was a very interesting article in the NY Times, Mom and Dad, Let’s Talk Real Estate by Constance Rosenblum. I found the article addressed some issues for which people should prepare. The article focused on how to have the conversation with your family about what will happen to assets or estate in the case of death or sickness. Too many times there have been cases where this conversation could have prevented family drama and legal woes had the time been taken before anything occurred. In situations like this I recommend being proactive verses reactive.
The first piece of advice Rosenblum shared was “Don’t drag your feet”. Too often people think that the they have all the time in the world to make these decisions but candidly put; accidents happen all the time.
That leads to the next point, “begin the conversation”. Talking about death or dementia isn’t anyone’s favorite topic but someone has to bring it up. The sooner you do the sooner your wishes can be in place and you and your family don’t have to worry about what would happen in the event of tragedy.
“Balance competing issues” like most choices there will be pros and cons to any decision and what may seem like a solution to one problem is the creator of another you have to decide what battles are worth fighting and what ultimately is the best decision for EVERYONE involved.
Rosenblum goes on to state how important it is to know policy. No matter what your residential situation is there are rules as to how things are handled post tragedy. If you rent find out what your families’ options are as far as if they can stay there with no application process? Do they have to fill out an application and be approved? If they want to end the lease do they have the option or do they have to live out the term? Same with owning your home. How would they pay any remaining mortgage? Insurance? Property taxes? Homeowner Association Dues? Who would the home be titled to in the invent of death?
One point I can’t agree with more is to, “get the family on board”. Once you’ve figured out the best path for your family and what your wishes for them are, then you have to express this. It is so much better to let them know what you plan to do before your gone so that in the event they have issues with your choices they can address them with you while you are still around verses trying to understand a decision they may not agree with on top of the loss of a love one. One way to address this may be to send out an invitation or email summarizing how you plan to set up your estate and what you would want in the event you couldn’t speak for yourself then invite them to come and discuss these choices and ask questions.
The last tip is to “Beware of Fraud”, sadly con artists aren’t only in the movies. Every year thousands of people are targeted by fraud and among those targets are the elderly. One of the oldest cons, befriending a lonely elderly person and working one’s way into their heart and their last will and testament. A lot of times these victims have families out of state who can’t monitor their living situation and don’t find out that the will has been changed until its too late to ask why. This could be avoided if things are placed in concrete and regularly monitored.
These are just a few tips for having the conversation with your loved ones about planning for the future because there won’t be a plan unless you create it.
For more on this topic you can find Constance Rosenblum’s article at: