As your parent ages, you may have more and more concerns about his or her well-being. While you may not have any problem stepping in and making important decisions on his or her behalf if that time comes, you know that you need legal authority to do so. Though you know that your parent has already done some estate planning, you may not know the details of the plan.
As an adult child, you want to ensure that your parent's affairs are in order and that plans are in place to handle difficult situations in the future, such as if your parent becomes incapacitated by illness or injury. Such a time can be stressful, and you want to make sure that you know what to do.
Though it can be difficult to bring up this subject to your parent, it may be worth the effort. You could learn that your parent only has a will in place and his or her estate plan ends there. While a will certainly has its uses, it cannot explain what your parent wants in terms of care in the event of incapacitation. As a result, you may want to encourage your parent to create the following documents:
- A durable power of attorney: This document appoints an individual to make decisions on behalf of an incapacitated person. Having this document in place can ensure that someone is ready to step in to make important decisions when necessary.
- A "do not resuscitate" order: If your parent does not want to have resuscitation efforts made if his or her heart stops, a DNR can express that wish. Without it, doctors will do everything they can to revive your parent.
- A living will: A living will can explain what life-sustaining treatments your parent does or does not want in the event of a potentially terminal situation. Some individuals want every effort made to extend their life, and others may only want certain attempts made or none at all.
As you can see, incapacitation can lead to serious situations in which one needs to make major decisions. By explaining to your parent the importance of having this information, he or she may feel more willing to create those documents and include them in an estate plan. When your parent is ready, a Washington attorney can help draft those documents.