Do Your Parents Have Effective Estate Planning in Place?

The mere idea of having a talk with our elderly parents about their finances and estate planning is enough to make most of us run in the opposite direction. Won’t they think we’re just making a grab for their cash or invading their privacy? As painful as such a conversation might be, such communication is often the key to helping ensure that our parents live out their lives without money worries, and that their estate planning wishes are followed and carried out.

Bringing up the future with your parents — their finances, estate matters, memorial wishes — is one of the best things you can do for them and for you. The earlier you can do it, the better off you will be. Here are 12 key questions we need to ask your parents to make sure that their estate planning is in order:

  1. Who’s on their team?
    If your parents work with financial and legal professionals, ask for a list of their names, addresses and phone numbers (or make sure you know where to find that list if you need it). You may need to involve their attorney, accountant and financial planner in estate matters. Also key: names and numbers of your parents’ doctors, in case end-of-life medical decisions need to be made.
     
  2. Do they have Wills?
    If they don’t, it’s unlikely that they have much else in the way of estate planning documents. If they do,here’s what you need to know: how recently were their Wills written, who will be the executor and  here are the original documents located. If their wills are more than five years old, it’s probably a good idea to review them to make sure that their current wishes are still being represented.
     
  3. Do they have advance directives (Living Wills) and Powers of Attorney?
    If so, ask to see them so you know what their respective feelings are about life support and who they have elected to manage their financial and medical affairs if they become unable to do so themselves.
     
  4. Are their beneficiaries up to date? 
    Designated beneficiaries on insurance policies, pensions and investments trump any instructions your parents may have made in their Wills. Make sure your parents have updated their beneficiary designations to reflect their current wishes. 
     
  5. What financial and investment accounts do they have — and where are they located? 
    Have your parents draw up (with your help, if they prefer) a list of their bank, brokerage and mutual fund accounts and the account  numbers. If they have any user names and passwords on the accounts, get those too. If they’re uncomfortable doing this, have them put all the relevant info in a notebook, so you will have the essentials when you need them.
     
  6. What insurance do they have and where are the policies located? 
    If one or both of your parents become incapacited, you’ll need to know about their health insurance — private or Medicare. Also locate their life insurance, auto, homeowners, disability and long-term-care policies, so you know what their coverage may be and whom to contact if necessary. 
     
  7. Where is their financial paperwork? 
    You’ll want to know where to find the title to your parents’ house and car, their property deed, and all of their loan documents.
     
  8. Where are their tax files? 
    If you find yourself handling an estate that gets complicated, you may need your parents’ previous years’ returns. 
     
  9. When and where would they consider moving if necessary? Explore whether your parents have thought about what they’ll do when they can no longer climb stairs or take care of a big place. Would they want in-home care? Would they prefer moving to an assisted-living facility, and if so, to any one in particular? If your parents plan to stay put, you’ll need to talk about whether the house is built for senior living and, if not, how to retrofit it.
  10. How do they envision their memorial services? 
    You’ll want to know what kind of funeral they have in mind, assuming they want one, and where they want to be buried or cremated. You might find out that 35 years ago they bought burial plots and you never even knew it.
     
  11. Are they an organ donors?  
    So, you’ll also want to know where they keep their organ-donor designations. In some states it may be indicated on a their driver licenses, but in others they may have organ donor cards.
     
  12. Do they have a safe-deposit box and, if so, where is it located and where do they keep the key?
    If you’re the executor of your parents’ estate, you may be able to get into the box without a key, but it’ll probably involve a drill and a substantial fee.  these kind of questions is easy, but not asking them can be far worse. Try explaining to your  that you are not trying to invade their privacy or interfere with their personal business, you are simply trying to provide both them and yourself  peace of mind.

Have this conversation with your parents today. In the long run, you'll be glad you did!

Client Testimonials

"Chose American Wills & Estates to have our documents done. First impressions are everything and they made the cut. Both Lloyd and staff were very personable and professional. They were easy to get to and parking was so much easier than going downtown. Their pricing is also very reasonable. I'd recommend them and use them again. Thank you!"

Mark Breisinger - 04/2016

"I'm very pleased that we selected American Wills and Estates to help my family through what is often a difficult process at best; from the initial set up of my elderly aunt's will and estate planning over five years ago; advice and council during her illness over the past two years; and ultimately step-by-step assistance in settling her estate after her passing earlier this year. They were there for me and my family through it all, and with friendly, supportive and sound advice. I highly recommend their services."

Anonymous - 11/2011

"He made many suggestions and corrections that helped me prepare my Will. He also prepared my Power of Attorney and my Living will. I am always skeptical about Lawyers trying to talk me into something that I do not need to have. Lloyd was up front and honest. I will continue to use his practice."

Cindy Cohen - 10/2016

"American Wills and Estates handled my mom's Will through the probate process quickly and at an affordable and reasonable rate.  Attorney Lloyd Welling was knowledgeable and handled everything efficiently. His advice and friendly manner made a difficult time much easier. Thank you Lloyd!"

Lori Merrit - 06/2017

Lori Merritt - 08/2017

"I was overwhelmed with the thought of drawing up my will. I can say with certainty that dealing with Lloyd Welling and American Wills & Estates, the process could not have been any easier and smoother. Thank you for the great experience!"

Cindy Magri - 06/2015

"Lloyd Wellington is fantastic! Our family is so appreciative of his expert assistance, reliability and prompt handling of our wills. Highly recommended!"

Dawn Justice - 03/2015

"Very knowledgeable and helpful with a difficult situation I was in. He helped me overcome the situation with a great solution. I will definitely be going to him again and highly recommend his services."

james Raimondi Jr. - 01/2017

"Not only did we get personalized service like visits to my mother when she was to ill to travel but got the best advice possible. During this very difficult time Lloyd was a godsend. He took over and handled every detail to perfection. By choosing American Wills & Estates I was able to deal with the death of my mother while all the legal details were handled for me! I highly recommend American Wills & Estates for all of your estate needs. I continue to use them and always will."

Scott G Barbour - 04/2016

"I dealt with Lloyd Welling and he was great. When my dad died, Lloyd held my hand throughout the whole process and handled everything. He was very professional and explained everything that he did. I would highly recommend this firm. They also prepared a will for me (very reasonable fee)."

Jodie T. - 08/2010

"Meeting with Lloyd to plan the will, POA, and Advance Directive was great - he was flexible and worked to accommodate my wishes."

Michelle Kienholz - 06/2015

"Highly recommended firm!!! Mr. Lloyd Welling, esq. is very professional, respectful and efficient:)"

Sunita Jayakumar - 12/2014

"Without American Wills & Estates, I could never have completed the many local,county and state requirements for opening & closing my late mother-in-law's estate.  Thanks for all the help guys."

Tom A. - March 2017

- 08/2017

"They were the best Law Firm and very professional. Every time the situation felt like there was no hope they made us feel like we mattered and they cared about us and not just another client giving them money. I highly recommend this firm and would absolutely refer them to anyone that came into a unfortunate situation like we did. Oh and by the way we won the case because of all their hard work. You guys rock!"

Brandi Bryant - 11/2016

"Mr. Welling and his Associates had held my hand through a very hard time in my life. Walked me through a very complicated situation and took the risks for me. I HIGHLY recommend this Law Firm . A very caring and down to earth group of Attorneys. Yet I was treated as if I were part of their family!"

Dawn Culp - 03/2016

"Mr. Lloyd Welling ESQ. , is in my opinion a kind, honest, to the point individual, with a thorough knowledge of his profession and a incredible ability to make even the hardest of times easier to deal with. Extremely professional, accessible, efficient and a pleasure to work with. I have no reserves in recommending his services to anyone who has a need for estate planning or a will."

Ron Capozzoli - 04/2015

"He did a great job of explaining the intricacies of estate planning. My needs were very simple. He took the time to hear my concerns and present options for future consideration as I may need them. The office will help you create a living will for free and his prices are very reasonable. It's difficult to find trustworthy legal help that is not over-selling. I would highly recommend him."

Kari Sera - 12/2015

"We highly recommend American Wills and Estates, specifically Lloyd A. Welling, Esquire. You need not look any further. His and his staff's manner, knowledge and professionalism was excellent then and still is today. Twenty years later, he and his firm continue to assist my family as I serve as an Executor for another relative. Mr. Welling and staff have expertly served our families for other legal matters as I identified above. Again, you need not look any further."

Tom & Jessica - 11/2016

"In addition to being knowledgeable, he always kept me informed! If I had a question or just wanted to check on the progress of my probate matter, I always received a prompt response. I could not believe the amount of paperwork that is involved. I could not have gotten through this without Mr. Welling's professional help. If you ever need a reliable, trustworthy and honest lawyer, be sure to give Mr. Welling a call."

Martin Coyne - 01/2017

"I feel fortunate that our family was referred to American Wills and Estates who helped us through a very difficult time. We were in from out-of-town for my Sister's unexpected death and needed to get Power of Attorney and a Living Will for our Mother immediately. American Wills and Estates made the process easy and we felt that they had our best interest in mind. They were very caring and personable. I highly recommend them and I now ask myself why we didn't take care of these matters a long time ago."

Anonymous - 11/2011

"Absolutely The Best Law Firm That I Have Ever Dealt With. Very Professional! And Yet Treats You Like Family!"

Jonathan Goonen - 03/2016

"The entire process from start to finish was completed in a matter of a couple emails. Atty Welling provided prompt and expert advice. Extremely satisfied with this law firm."

Sandra Powell - 12/2015

"The attorneys at American Wills & Estates handled my late father's estate in a professional, caring and sympathetic manner. They made a difficult and stressful situation manageable. I would highly recommend their services to anyone experiencing the painful loss of a loved one."

CJR from Ligonier, PA - 12/2006

"I highly recommend Lloyd Welling from American Wills & Estates. He recently helped my mother and I with my father's estate. I was a bit leery about employing the services of an attorney in PA as I live in CA. Lloyd put me at ease with his professionalism. He was prompt, honest, and provided us with excellent service. Lloyd resolved our estate issue quickly and efficiently."

Denise Jacobs Mcguire - 06/2016

"We highly recommend American Wills and Estates. You need not look any further. I wish to note that I first engaged Mr. Welling in 1997 as I served as the Executor of my grandmother's estate. His and his staff's manner, knowledge and professionalism was excellent then and still is today. Twenty years later, he and his firm continue to assist my family as I serve as an Executor for another relative. Mr. Welling and staff have expertly served our families for other legal matters as I identified above."

Thomas Hrabovsky - 11/2016

"Through my difficult situation, I felt 100% satisfied with the one-on-one attention. They were always very organized, even though at times we weren't. Everything I needed to be taken care of was just that, with the extra knowledge of doing it more stress- free. I would recommend AW&E to anyone going through a difficult time."

Anonymous - 10/2008

"Mr. Welling has been great in helping me with completing a very difficult estate. He has guided the procedures necessary where a successful conclusion is close at hand. I would and have recommended American Wills and Estates to others."

Frank Perman - 03/2016

"Mr. Welling is very kind and our experience was Great!. He helped us get through a very complicated time in our lives, very smoothly. I would recommend American Wills and Estates to anyone going through a difficult time or in need of excellent legal advice. Thank you A.W.E. !"

Donna Patterson - 03/2016

"My parents and I have used AMERICAN WILLS & ESTATES in the past and will in the future.They are a Compassionate ,Professional ,and Highly Educated in the Law.This is a company I would not hesitate to refer to anyone."

Marcia Eich - 03/2016

"Hard working, professional, knowledgeable and returned my calls promptly and when he said he would. He is honest, straight forward, and will not try to lead you down a path where you spend a lot of money for nothing. He is practical and trustworthy. I HIGHLY recommend that you hire Lloyd Welling if you are searching for a good attorney!"

Elise Able - 06/2016

"Open, honest, blunt and to the point! I'm ever so glad Mr. Welling is on my side. I made a wise choice. Always there when you need him and ever so good at easing the minds of those in very sad, confusing situations. Thanks!"

Dp Culp - 07/2013

"You answered all my questions and offered advice, thank you again! Anyone ready to make their planning of their will and looking for a professional expert go see Lloyd Welling."

Tina Herceg - 04/2015

"This firm helped us tremendously with executing my father-in-laws will. I've heard many horror stories about this process. But Lloyd made this painless and process went very smoothly and minimized the emotional toll on my wife. Now we both have our wills through American Wills & Estates."

Sam Walton - 03/2016

"I had a great experience with Mr. Welling. He got back to me within hours of my message. He was sweet, easy to talk to and got right to work on my case. I felt secure he knew what he was doing."

Maureen O'Halloran Sinko - 10/2015

"My wife and I just completed our wills with American Wills & Estates. We also had POA's and Living Wills completed. They pointed out several items that we would not otherwise had thought of, but that were important issues to address. The process was very smooth and professional. I would highly recommend Mr. Welling and his staff to everyone."

Steve Amsdell - 01/2013

"Although I have not as yet had the opportunity to do business with American Wills & Estates, it has been my pleasure to know the owner, Atty. Lloyd Welling for most of his and my lifetime. He was then and is now; an articulate, caring and respectful young man. I look forward to working with him professionally in the near future."

Isa Bella - 03/2016

​"Complete and professional service from beginning to end. Made a confusing and emotional family matter bearable.  Highly recommend there legal services."

Steve S - May 2017

Steve S - 08/2017

"Knowledgeable, professional, efficient, compassionate and to the point. These are just a few of the words I would use to describe my recent experience with Mr. Lloyd Welling at American Wills & Estates. Whatever your needs may be involving the will and probate process, Mr. Welling is there to guide you every step of the way, as well as ensure you are being treated fairly and with respect."

Karen Flaherty - 08/2015

"The death of a loved one is never an easy thing to handle. However, the attorneys at American Wills & Estates made the process of organizing and administering my late mother's estate as simple and painless as possible. I would highly recommend American Wills & Estates to anyone facing the difficult and often painful ordeal of handling the affairs of deceased loved one."

Anonymous - 06/2006

"Attorney Welling is extremely knowledgeable and takes the time to make sure the job gets done right. I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone in need of estate planning or the handling of a decedents estate."

Steven Tabano - 08/2014

"I called around to get an idea of pricing for wills, living wills & power of atty, and was quoted 500$ from other firms. I was not expecting less than half of the competitor's quotes. They were quick, efficient, friendly, (i could go on...). I would and will recommend them in the future!"

David Strell - 07/2016