Children tend to trust that their parents have their lives together. Your aging parents are already well into their retirement, so you probably assume that they have long since taken stock of their financial circumstances and made plans for the end of their lives. Many children with older parents assume there will be a last will to rely on after their parents’ deaths.
While most older adults have a last will or an estate plan, some people just don’t want to think about their own death. Delaying estate planning even after the age of retirement is something a significant number of people do. Research shows that approximately 19% of adults over the age of 72 don’t have a last will or estate plan. What happens if your parents fall into that category?
Dying without a last will complicates estate administration
Going through probate and serving as executor won’t be easy, but the process becomes harder than it should be when the person who dies didn’t plan ahead. Instead of reviewing their preferences and following instructions as laid out in a last will, an executor will have to instead defer to Colorado state laws.
Intestate succession laws govern the process of asset distribution when someone dies without a last will. In Colorado, the law favors spouses and children. Although your parents may have wanted a more nuanced plan, if they die without a last will, the assets they leave behind get divided strictly according to state law rather than your parents’ wishes.
Have you talked with your parents about their estate plan?
Confirming whether your parents have last wills or an estate plan already in place requires a, sometimes difficult, conversation. Asking whether they have planned is only the first part of that discussion.
Having an estate plan is a good step, but if your parents created it in their 30s, they may need to review it because it doesn’t talk about your current family circumstances or address their most substantial assets.
Although it can be uncomfortable to talk to your parents about what will happen after they die, if they understand the potential hardships they could cause for the people they love, they may take action even though they have previously delayed doing so.