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Study Shows Many Americans Clueless about Parents’ Estate Documents

Daryll Pomey Orat - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Many Americans in a recent survey by Caring.com admitted that they do not have any information about where their parents’ estate planning documents are located. That means severe inconvenience and endless delay for these people, if their parents suddenly die or incapacitated and if they're not able to locate the documents.

It seems like one of the most things most important to take care of, but it is one that many American adults sadly postpone. It's important not only to understand what your parents have planned, and the distribution of their assets after them, but also to have the legal documents that will allow you to carry out those plans if your parents are incapacitated, or are no longer with you.

As an adult caregiver of a parent or an adult child, it is important for you to know where all of these estate planning documents are located, and to make sure that all of the documents are in order. Make sure that your parents can revise these plans regularly, so that they are updated with all the latest changes. For instance, wills must be updated to take into account any deaths, or births in the family. There may have been marriages and divorces in your family, and all of these must also be taken into account. Remind your parents about the importance of these changes.

It is important to know not just where your parents’ will, or living will is located, but also what is contained in it. There must be no surprises when these documents need to be executed. A living will, for instance, will contain all of the wishes that your parents have for end-of-life care or life-prolonging care. This will ensure that your parents’ wishes are carried out in these matters. Your parents also need to have a power of attorney healthcare, to designate a person in the family who will take care of all their health care decisions when they are incapacitated.

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