Asking one or both parents if they have a will can be awkward. However, it’s an essential question all Maryland residents should ask to avoid problems after their parents pass away. Even if they have a will, regular reviews are important to ensure that it is updated and reflects their current wishes.
Who needs a will?
In a word, everyone. Anyone who owns property and has valuables, even small amounts, should have a will. It’s a crucial element of estate planning. Wills are important for several reasons, including:
• If you have a blended family, they can avoid the disinheritance of a surviving spouse
• If you have minor children or an adult child with special needs
• If you want assets to go to specific people
• If you are in a committed relationship but not married
The importance of updating a will
Many people feel that it is done once they have drafted a will. However, wills can essentially become obsolete for several reasons, which is why you should review them with your parents every few years. Wills that are more than a decade old may have named heirs or executors who are no longer alive. Sometimes designated assets have already been given away. In other words, the will may no longer be current.
Navigating the entire estate puzzle
The legal document known as a will is only one piece of the estate puzzle. Even if your parents don’t have many assets, they have a legacy to consider. Besides wills, you should talk to your parents about other estate planning elements, including trusts and directives, like power of attorney for health care and power of attorney for finance, which will take care of their affairs should they become incapacitated.
Estate planning is all about ensuring that someone’s final wishes are met. When talking to one or both of your parents about this issue, ask them to review what documents they have and then suggest working together to ensure that these documents are updated to meet their current needs and wishes.