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McCurrie McCurrie
& McCurrie, L.L.C.

680 Kearny Avenue
Kearny, NJ 07032-3010
Phone: (201) 467-4180
Fax: (201) 997-9567
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Don't let incapacity diminish an elderly loved one's estate

Just about anyone will tell you: getting older is hard. Sometimes an elderly loved one's capacity to handle financial affairs becomes greatly limited, and there is the risk that money troubles could result. When that is the case, children of aging parents may have to take over the estate, and this process is made easier when the proper estate planning documents are already in place.

For instance, adult children and their aging parents may want to sit down and have a discussion about how the estate assets should be handled. If the parent has begun to miss bill payments or make impulsive purchases, then the need to have the discussion may be more urgent.

Still, adult children should remember that with aging comes the natural slowing of the body and mind, and that slowing doesn't necessarily mean that an elderly person is incapable of managing his or her finances. In other words, don't overreact if your loved one misses a single bill payment, but it's a good idea to be mindful of the possibility that one day you might have to take over the financial reins.

Communication among family members is important, especially in matters of estate planning. While many elderly people are prepared to let their loved ones make medical decisions in the event of incapacity, not as many estate owners are quick to give up their hold on their assets. That is why having an honest discussion and planning ahead are so important: everyone can get on the same page, and there are no surprises.

Of course, taking the job of managing a parent's assets can be daunting, and it may be a good idea to divide tasks among siblings. Maybe one sibling has medical power of attorney, while the other sibling monitors the parent's credit, consolidates accounts and handles the duties of asset preservation.

In any case, it is a good idea to cover these issues in a comprehensive estate plan, and New Jersey residents may want to speak with their parents about these matters sooner rather than later. 

Source: Miami Herald, "When to ask for, hand over money reins," Gregory Karp, Oct. 18, 2013

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