During this holiday season as you are visiting with your parents, it may be the right time to speak to them about their estate planning. You may feel this is not the right time of year to bring up the subject, but if not now, when? If you address estate planning with your parents from the standpoint of caring and love, the holiday season can be the perfect time talk about it.
Less than half of the adult population has not yet worked on their estate planning or even prepared a will. Most people think they have time or it is something to worry about later. However, estate planning takes into consideration more than just what happens to a person’s property after they die.
When it comes to your parents, it is important to discuss medical and financial powers of attorney which is important if they ever become incapacitated and unable to make their own decisions. You may also want to bring up the possibility of preparing for long-term care and working with an elder law attorney to protect their assets instead of it going to a nursing home.
As you can see, it is important to speak with your parents right away about their estate planning. If you are still apprehensive about bringing it up, here are some ways that may make it easier.
Ask for a time to talk – Use the casual time of a holiday get-together to ask about taking time in the new year to discuss important planning for the future. This is not a subject to spring on them, but by making it a priority for a later date, it may get the ball rolling.
Begin by asking what they want – One of the reasons this subject is difficult to bring up, is that there is a stigma attached to it that makes children seem like they are being greedy for an inheritance. This can be bypassed if you can keep the conversation focused on what your parents want and how to get their wishes accomplished.
Be a good listener – During this conversation, the best thing you can do is listen. Gather the information you are hearing and write it down. Be as concise as possible. Repeat back statements you heard to show you understood what they said. The more you do this the more it can show you are a helper and not an influencer. This type of conversation can provide a lot of good information that you can have ready for when you meet with your estate planning attorney.
Inspire and encourage – You may have parents who do not want to talk much or believe things just have a way of working themselves out. The best estate planning is done to make the future easier by not needing to worry about decision making during stressful times. By adding encouragement and a little inspiration to the conversation, you can possibly get your parents to open up and be more comfortable to speak.
If you have not prepared any estate planning documents yet yourself, you may just use this fact as an opportunity to ask your parents to work on their planning in tandem with you. It may be easier to have the conversation if you are talking about how you are planning to provide for your children as they do the same for their children and grand-children.