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5 Tips About How to Talk to Your Parents About Their Estate Plan
The topic of estate planning is a tough one to bring up with parents. Not only is it emotional to think about a time when your parents will no longer be around, but the topic triggers visions of greedy children, all fighting over their parent’s assets. As uncomfortable it may be, however, it’s important to talk with your parents about their estate plan. If your parents have a professionally created, integrated plan in place, their wishes—whatever they may be—should legally be carried out upon their deaths. If they don’t have a plan in place, having a conversation about it can empower them to make important decisions while they are still able to do so.
Below are 5 tips to help you breach the topic of estate planning with your parents:
- Don’t procrastinate. The reason we draft an estate plan in the first place is to plan for the unexpected. The best time to plan for tomorrow is today! By encouraging your parents to plan for the uncertainties of the future, you are ensuring that your parents, your siblings and you are protected.
- Find the right time to talk about money. Money isn’t a topic we bring up with our parents often (or ever), but knowing where your parents stand in terms of long-term care planning is so important. Time this conversation properly, otherwise you might come across as sounding greedy or money-hungry. Many people wait until there has been a life-changing event to discuss the issue of money, for example a birth or death in the family. Without such an event, simply asking your parents about their plan if one of them should need to go into a nursing home—without talking specific figures—is a good way to start the conversation.
- Plan out the conversation. By planning what to say ahead of time, you will avoid confusion, awkwardness, and rambling. Furthermore, if the discussion goes off on a tangent, you’ll be able to quickly pull your parents back to the conversation at hand. Consider how to segue into the conversation, otherwise you might catch your parents completely off guard. One way to bring up the topic is by using a recent family event, an anecdote from a friend, or your own personal journey into estate planning.
- Make sure that the entire family is involved. The conversation about your parents’ estate plan should involve your entire family. It’s important that the discussion be completely transparent, as it affects everyone in the family unit. Without transparency, eyebrows may be raised about your intentions. To avoid any conflict, be open about the conversation, and get your siblings involved.
- Do your homework. Learn what different estate planning documents do, and which your parents may need based on their unique situation so you can make concrete recommendations, and educate your parents about the process. Our firm offers free workshops and other resources to better enroll you and your loved ones in the process of learning about estate planning. Take advantage of these valuable resources, and share them with your parents!
Take the First Step
The Law Firm of Blanche D. Smith, P.C. is committed to educating our clients, their families, and the community about issues related to estate planning and probate. Please join us at one of our free workshops, and use the brief form below to download our free: It’s All About Family: Handbook on Estate Planning Tools.