Talking to Parents About Estate Planning: 5 Tips
If it's time to talk with your parents about estate planning but you're not quite sure how to start, these five tips from Ampersand Law will help you begin the conversation.
Don’t put this conversation off. It will always be easier to have when everyone is healthy (or relatively so).
Keep in mind that this won’t be a one-and-done conversation but rather the beginning of an on-going dialogue.
Request a “meeting” and set a day/time/place where everyone can be as calm and comfortable as possible.
Give everyone time to (mentally) prepare to have this talk.
Be transparent and inclusive.
Include other siblings (and other key family members) in the conversation if possible and if not - make sure they know the conversation is happening.
Be sincere about your intentions and begin by asking for their help.
”Remember when Great Aunt Milly died and everyone fought over what to do because she didn’t have a will? I want to make sure that doesn’t happen to us.”
”We are working on retirement planning and our advisor asked us what your plans are. We realized we don’t know.”
"I am lying awake at night worrying about you not having enough money later in life and whether I need to be saving to help support you.”
And - keep your own history in mind - if you’ve had money troubles in the past and/or fought with them about how you manage your own finances - they may be concerned you want to ask them for money.
Leave your ego (as well as pressure, judgment, and family baggage) at the door. Otherwise, these conversations can easily get bogged down in sadness, regret, fear, and rehashing of past wrongs.
Focus on what your parent(s) want and how you can best understand and honor their wishes. If they are uncomfortable talking about money, you can just focus on the broad picture rather than the financial specifics.
Listen more, talk less, and no judgment. When you do talk - focus on ensuring you understand what they are saying, validating their position, and empathizing with their feelings.
Keep notes - this will be an ongoing conversation and your parent(s) may change their mind(s). And remember - your notes are good for reference but all of this needs to be properly documented (by a will, trust, durable general power of attorney, health care power of attorney, etc.) to be enforceable and actionable.
NEED MORE HELP?
If you want to have a bit more information as well as customized action plan to help you have this conversation, Ampersand Law can help. Schedule a consultation today.