Seven tips for talking to your parents about estate planning

| Apr 20, 2020 | Estate Administration & Probate |

Many of us become worried about our parents as they age. We might be concerned about their health and physical and mental well-being, their ability to make appropriate financial decisions, or their plan for the future of their assets. Some of your elderly loved ones have taken the steps necessary to establish a strong estate plan, but others find it challenging to address the realities that come with estate planning.

Yet, the dangers associated with passing away without an estate plan far outweigh the difficulty in contemplating one’s own mortality and creating an estate plan. Therefore, it might be best for you to think about having a conversation with your parents about their estate plan. After all, that may be the only way to ensure that they have their estate squared away in a way that brings their vision of the future into fruition and protects their assets and loved ones.

Does that sound like a challenging proposition? It might be, but we hope that these steps will help you ease into the topic and ensure that you have a productive conversation.

  1. Don’t rush the conversation: You’re probably going to have to talk about estate planning with your parents over the course of multiple conversations. So, don’t try to force everything into one talk. Doing so could result in them turning off to the topic and brushing the idea off altogether.
  2. Tell other family members about your intentions: You don’t want it to appear that you’re pressuring your parents into developing a particular type of estate plan. After all, that perception could lead to allegations of coercion and fraud. It can also strain familial relationships, which is something you probably want to avoid.
  3. Make sure you understand: Since you’ll be talking to your parents about estate planning on multiple occasions, make sure you record what they are saying and clarify any points that you don’t understand. This can ensure that you know what they want, but also so that they can identify their goals, too.
  4. Don’t be forceful: As mentioned above, it can be easy to give off the impression that you’re pressuring your parents into discussing these matters. You don’t want to dissuade them from talking about it, and you certainly don’t want to pressure them in a way that makes it appear that you’ve benefited from the conversation more than you should have.
  5. Be empathetic: This is a difficult discussion to have given that it involves a challenging topic and tough things to think about. So, understand the trouble your parents are having in making these decisions or broaching the topic at all.
  6. Focus on what’s important: There are things that may be important to you that aren’t important to your parents. Focus your conversation on those matters that support their values and give credence to what they feel is right for them.
  7. Know how to start the conversation: Easing into a discussion about estate planning should be natural. Don’t just jump into the conversation without any supporting context. Consider bringing up stories you’ve read or heard, or about how you’re concerned about what they want as far as their healthcare and financial decisions moving forward. It’s also best to start these discussions with your parents while they are healthy so that it doesn’t look like you’re giving up on them and merely focusing on their assets.

We know that having this conversation can be challenging. Yet, estate planning is of critical importance for a number of reasons. Therefore, if you or your parents needs help developing an estate plan that is holistic, custom tailored, and fitting for the future, then consider reaching out to a law firm that is highly experienced in this area.