Helping Your Heirs With Your Estate

When Krysten Crawford’s mother died unexpectedly at the age of 74, Crawford and her sisters had never spoken with their mother about her financial affairs or estate. After the mother’s death, Krysten and her sisters discovered not only that their mother still had a mortgage on her home, but that the mortgage was in default.

The mortgage bank refused to divulge any information concerning the mortgage until it had received an official death certificate. However, the death certificate was still pending because the official cause of death was unknown. The mortgage bank offered to withdraw the money from a family member’s bank account, however the bank would not tell the family member how much was to be withdrawn.

Two months later, the death certificate was still pending. Crawford’s sister was able to offer guesses to a mortgage representative, who stated “higher” or “lower” until she figured out that the payment was $3,500.

In order to avoid a similar fate, it is important to speak with your parents about their financial affairs and estate. According to AARP caregiving expert Amy Goyer, “Finances tend to be one of the trickiest topics because people do have traditional ideas about what you should and shouldn’t talk about.”

Goyer suggests using “I” statements in order to keep your parent(s) at ease during the conversation. Asking questions like “I’m concerned about doing the right thing when you pass” will be better received than “You’re so disorganized and are going to make this difficult for me.” Also, think about the type of information that you are looking to get out of the conversation. Consider whether a will exists, if there is a power of attorney, and what non-probate assets does your parent have.

For assistance in dealing with your estate, contact us at (626) 696-3145.

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