No one likes to think about their parents one-day needing help with their health and finances, or even more extreme, the day they’ll no longer be here. The truth of the matter, however, is that this is the reality and a natural course of life. Waiting to cross the bridge when it happens may seem like the ideal thing to do. Yet, not having the discussion and more importantly, a plan in place can cause lots of hardships for both you and your parents in the near future.
Imagine your parent passes away without a plan. Obtaining the finances necessary for final expenses and claiming ownership of assets left behind can be an uphill battle. Without an estate plan, state laws apply meaning that the courts decide what happens with your parents’ possessions. As this is likely not something mom or dad would want you to experience, nor something you’d want to endure, it is best to have a talk with them about making a plan for their future and beyond.
How to Talk to Mom and Dad About Estate Planning
Talking to your parents, you would think, would be an easy task. However, when it comes to bringing up topics about the day when their health will be in jeopardy or of their passing, it can get a bit touchy. Most seniors aren’t interested in thinking about these things and more importantly, aren’t inclined to talk with their children about their health and finances. So, you need to take a delicate but firm approach to get a conversation going. Below, is some advice…
1. Consult an Estate Attorney
Prior to talking with your parents about estate planning, it may be wise to seek counsel from an estate planning attorney. They are experts in this field of law and can help you in understanding the importance of having a plan. An attorney can answer any questions you may have and even provide advice on how to speak with your parents on the matter. Consulting an estate attorney is also ideal because if your parents do agree to set up an estate plan, you’ll already have an expert in mind to help with the process.
2. Talk About Your Own Estate Plans
If you have children, a spouse, or a portfolio of assets, hopefully, you have already created an estate plan. If you have, you can discuss your experience with your parents. Talk about what you learned, how the process went, and how getting it out of the way provided you with peace of mind. Hearing that you’ve already taken the appropriate steps may get them to open up.
3. Listen To Their Concerns
If your parents are reluctant to talk about their affairs or have a bunch of concerns, listen to what they have to say. Completely ignoring their experiences or opinions will only push you further away from a resolution. As they ask questions, answer them as accurately as you can. If you’re not sure, suggest talking with an estate attorney or doing research to get an answer.
4. Discuss The Benefits
The topics of illness, finances, and death aren’t easy to discuss. However, if you can explain the benefits of having an estate plan to your parents, they may be more inclined to get on board. An estate plan protects your family from the court systems, it gets assets divided easier, it saves loved ones from having to make difficult decisions about healthcare and final arrangements, it protects their businesses, makes retirement easier, and provides peace of mind. When you hear about it in this positive light it’s a pill that becomes a lot easier to swallow.
5. Help Them Gather Information
Once your parents have gotten on board with the idea of getting their affairs in order, they’ll need your assistance. There is a lot of information that will be necessary to ensure everything they own is protected. Help them in allocating this information as smoothly as possible so they can begin securing their future.
The number of adult children hit with the financial burden of caring for their aging parents, handling their debts, and taking care of their estate after they’ve passed (without the right protections) is alarming. Though it may be a tough conversation to have, it’s one that needs to happen to make things easier on everyone involved. Hopefully, this has provided you with some sound advice on how to approach the matter with compassion.