“My husband and I want to set up a will and trust for his elderly mother. What sort of things should we be thinking about? And how long will it take to get it all together?”

It is very important, especially for the elderly, to have an estate plan.  The most important consideration is whether your husband’s mother has the capacity to execute documents such as a trust and a will.  Provided she has the capacity, there are a few things for you and her to think about:

  1.  Who would she like to receive her property at her death and how would she like for them to receive the property?
  2. Who would she want to take care of her and her affairs at death or incapacity?
  3. What are her wishes with respect to her health care (i.e. her opinions about life support)?

The first step is to talk to your mother-in-law about estate planning and her wishes regarding the above.   It is important that she is on board with the estate planning process since she is the one in charge of her own estate plan.  The next step is for your mother-in-law to talk to and meet with an estate planning attorney to start the formal process.  She will likely be asked to complete a questionnaire about her family information, current assets, and future wishes.  From there, the attorney will draft the documents which your mother-in-law will eventually sign.

The entire process will usually take about a month from start until finish; though clients can sometimes take longer or shorter, depending on how motivated they are to complete their plan.

The important part is to start the conversation with your mother-in-law and help her through the process as she needs it.  Good luck!