If your parents are getting older, then you might find yourself worrying not only about their health, but also about whether they’ve got the right estate planning tools in place to ensure that they’re as fully protected as possible. It’s usually an uncomfortable topic to bring up. After all, no one really wants to talk about their own mortality. But bringing up the conversation with your parents might be necessary, especially if they need a nudge to act. The alternative is to let the matter slide, which could leave your parents’ financial and healthcare decisions, as well as their assets, in the wrong hands.
Tips for speaking with your parents about estate planning
- Start early, if possible: First, try to start the estate planning conversation while your parents are still healthy. If you wait until it’s too late, then it might look like you’re only bringing up the topic because you think that your parents are going to pass away soon. This can make the conversation much more difficult .
- Inform family members: You don’t want to give the appearance that you’re trying to coerce your parents to act in a certain way when it comes to developing their estate plan. Therefore, it might be wise for you to inform siblings and other family members of your intentions. This can avoid misunderstandings and even lead to some of them giving you a helping hand in the process.
- Know how to start the conversation: This is the biggest concern for many individuals. All you have to do is find an “in” into the conversation. It could be a news story about estate planning or someone’s untimely passing. Or you could bring up a family or friend whose family faced challenges, or not, on account of an existing or non-existent estate plan. Then you can start easing into a discussion about what your parents have in place.
- Be empathetic: Understand that this is going to be a difficult conversation for your parents to have. So, be prepared to give them time and comfort as they discuss what they hope for their estate and their loved ones after they’re gone.
- Really listen: Your parents might not tell you exactly what they want out of their estate plan, but they’re going to talk about what’s important to them. Focus on those values and take notes so that you can revisit the topics as needed. These notes can also lay the framework for their estate plan once the time comes to create it.
- Be holistic: While much of estate planning is focusing on how assets will be distributed upon death, don’t forget to talk to your parents about other aspects of their estate plan, such as the need for powers of attorney.
Seek out the help that you need
Keep in mind that you don’t have to navigate all of the intricacies of your parents’ estate plan alone. It’s okay to let them know that they’d be better off finalizing their estate plan with the assistance of a qualified attorney. That way they can develop the legally valid plan that they need to find peace of mind. They may even find that there are more estate planning options available to them than they realize. Hopefully then they can rest easy knowing that their estate and their loved ones will be taken care of when the time comes. Until then, we wish you luck in bringing up the topic with your parents.