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.
- Remind your parents they are not alone. Let them know you are here to help in any way possible to make sure their wishes are carried through.
- Focus on your parents and genuinely listen to what they want. Put yourself in their shoes. Use the proven communication model of repeating back to them what you heard and then reinforce their decision with positive feedback.
- Plan a meeting to discuss the details. This will ensure everyone is in the correct mindset.
- Start with the basics. First, find out if they have any estate planning documents, when they were written (there may be a need for updates), how complete the documents are, and if they have worked with an attorney. Continue to remind them you want to ensure their desires will be implemented.
- Take notes! It will become too cumbersome to remember everything. Be sure to note the location of all documents.
- Get your siblings involved. This will ensure everyone understands your parent’s wishes. After all, it’s about what your parents want. It will also help prevent arguing – and potential litigation – down the road. Keep in mind, litigation can be costly and time-consuming. Understanding the “WHY” behind the decisions made about who gets which assets, and what role you and your siblings play, should clear up any uncertainty.
- Set goals together and review regularly. Setting long-term goals takes open and honest communication and can prevent unpleasant surprises for everyone.
Key Estate-Planning Topics
It will likely take time to cover the many facets of estate planning. So be patient with your parents and give them time to think things through.
Here is a list of topics to cover:
- Last Will and Testament
- Living Will/Healthcare Surrogate
- Estate Plan
- Net-Worth Statement
- Family Business
- Power of Attorney for Business/Financial/Health Care
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.