Estate Plan Can Protect You from Family Drama

You cannot control the action of an adult child, but you can prepare for it.

No matter how close family members may be, they do not always agree with your viewpoints and that can create some real problems in later years. However, those problems can be avoided, according to “Aging parents can protect against unwanted control by children” in the Glen Rose Reporter.

The article describes a case where an adult child wanted a parent’s ranch to be sold and the proceeds split between family members. What happens if the parent doesn’t agree and there are threats to have the parent declared incompetent and institutionalized?

There are protections available. However, action needs to be taken, including meeting with an estate planning attorney. Start by naming someone as Medical Power of Attorney to make any decisions regarding medical treatment in case you can’t make them for yourself. Don’t name your son or daughter—without the POA, the state law would put your adult child in that position of power.

Discuss with the person you want to designate as your POA what your wishes are about health care and whether you want to have extreme measures taken if they were to become necessary. Make sure they understand that their role is to carry out your wishes and they must be prepared to make some hard decisions.

In some states, a competent person can name the preferred guardian of their person or their estate as well as the person(s) they do NOT want to be appointed. Have your attorney prepare and sign a declaration to that effect, in compliance with the laws of your state.

Your goal is to protect yourself, as well as your family ranch.

If you were to become incompetent, the judge appointing a guardian for you would be required to follow the directions in your declaration, unless that person is found to be disqualified or would not serve your best interests.

This is a heartbreaking scenario and its one you hope you’ll never have to face. However, we know our children better than anyone else and we know what they may or may not do as we age.

An estate planning attorney can advise you in creating the proper documents to address a situation.

Reference: Glen Rose Reporter (Sep. 17, 2018) “Aging parents can protect against unwanted control by children”