As adult children, talking to your aging parents about their estate plan (Trust, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Living Will, etc.) sounds intimidating; something we typically avoid as long as possible.
And, we have solid delay tactics in place we use for justification. For example, “What if they think I am being greedy or just looking for my inheritance?” Or “What if they get defensive and say they can do it on their own or that’s private?” Or maybe talking money has always been a “taboo” topic in the family? Or it could be they are embarrassed because they haven’t established a proper estate plan to protect their legacy and beneficiaries.
Whatever the reason, you are not alone. Most individuals have not held detailed conversations with their aging parents about their estate plan.
One of the primary reasons is we do not know how to start the conversation.
In this blog, we will address a few ways you can start this conversation and perhaps in the process build an even deeper relationship with your parents.
Do It Now
Like any tough conversation, there is never a good time to start it. Therefore, it is best to get it done sooner versus later. If you are finding hesitation with this topic, consider this – you can either get it done now in a calm and cool manner, or be forced into it potentially at a crisis time when your emotions are running wild.
Obviously, you want the conversation to happen while your parents are in good health, mentally alert, and emotionally stable. This will make the process go much smoother.
Let’s look at a few strategies to get the conversation started:
Focus On Your Parents
1. Start the conversation in a way that empowers them to make decisions on their own. Tell them you want to help ensure their wishes are carried out exactly as they envision. Then gently guide them through the process.
Chances are your parents have some sentimental items they want specific family members to own after they pass. A wedding ring to a special granddaughter; a unique hand-crafted furniture piece that has been in the family for generations; or other assets of significance they want a particular family member to have, like investments, a classic car or property.
Focus On Health Care Directives
2. Center the conversation around their health care. Let them know you want to put a plan in place that reflects exactly what they want in the event their health deteriorates or they become incapacitated.
This will help you determine their exact wishes along with who will be making these decisions in case they are mentally or physically unable to on their own.
In addition, this conversation will open the door for discussions regarding assisted living options and long-term care planning.
3. Let your parents know you are doing your own estate planning so that there is no question about who gets what when you have passed. Then, ask whether your parents have done anything similar.
Acknowledge how uncomfortable this conversation is for you…but you are just trying to get things organized now so everyone is on the same page and their wishes are carried out.
Find A Prompt
4. A recent family event (wedding, funeral, wedding anniversary) or even a news story is a good prompt to initiate the conversation and make it less challenging.
Free Estate Planning Webinar – How to Protect Your Family, Assets & Legacy Through Estate Planning
Stone Legal Group, PLLC, has a free 25 minute on-demand webinar that you can watch with your parents that can help with this process. This is a great tool to learn with your parents about a Revocable Living Trust, Last Will and Testament, Power of Attorney, Living Will and other types of Trusts for special circumstances. Follow this link to attend the webinar at your leisure:
Treating your parents with respect and dignity is the key. After all, no one wants to grow old or feel as if they cannot take care of themselves. Therefore, be patient, yet assertive enough to get a plan in place now while they are still mentally and physically competent.
At Stone Legal Group, PLLC, we have been working with clients just like you for more than 30 years, guiding hundreds of individuals through the estate planning process. Contact us to discuss you or your parents’ estate plan.