Q: How do I make sure when my elderly father passes away that my sister doesn't take all of his assets and keep them
A: As long as your father is not incapacitated, an attorney can assist him in preparing a Will or Revocable Living Trust to allow him to designated how his property would be distributed if he were to pass away. Advance Health Care Directive and Durable Power of Attorney documents are also important to make sure that your father designates someone who can assist him if he becomes unable to make his own medical or financial decisions. Your father should consult an attorney regarding his estate planning needs and options.
A: My colleague is correct. Solid documentation of your dad's wishes is key. Other than that, there is not a whole lot that you or he can do to prevent theft of estate assets, short of securing them under lock and key. There are remedies for theft, of course, after it has happened.
In the meantime, in addition to good estate planning practices, think about maybe making a photographic or video inventory of your dad's assets to document what he owns.
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A: Your father needs to have estate planning documents prepared so his desires are made known. He can name a family friend or someone such as a CPA, bank, or professional trustee to act as the trustee after he passes, so your sister and you don’t fight over who gets which assets. That outsider will be in charge. Your sister won’t be able to touch bank accounts without having the proper legal authority through your father’s estate planning documents. But she may try going to your father’s home and taking his personal items, furniture, artwork or other items. Perhaps you can take a video of all his things, so you can prove what he owned prior to passing, or set up a video/security camera by his front door, so you can see if things are taken out of the home. Best wishes.
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