That delicate conversation with aging parents on estate planning

Communication often has been a problem in many families. The avoidance of discussing delicate issues and awkward but necessary topics is not uncommon. One such topic is estate planning. You have waited long enough, but now, it is time for you to broach this subject with your aging parents. Your family has avoided this long enough.

You understand that your parents need help and guidance as well as their hesitancy to discuss mortality and share with you deeply personal and sensitive information. In talking with them about estate planning, the first things to remember are to be respectful as well as specific.

Share your experiences, provide resources

You are not the only one who has been in the position. According to a Wells Fargo survey from 2018, about one-third of parents older than 60 said they had not talked with family members about late-life matters such as estate planning.

When discussing estate planning matters with aging parents, here are some things to consider:

  • Before meeting with your parents, get together with your siblings and come up with a united message that focuses on protecting your parents’ future and legacy.
  • Begin with a basic conversation and let it flow naturally. This may include one-on-one talks with your parents as well as your siblings. Please do not wait until a tragedy or dramatic life event surfaces.
  • Provide resources of information to help them. This may include magazine or newspaper articles, finance books that include estate planning basics, helpful websites from trusted sources and the names of some recommended estate planning attorneys and financial advisers, including the ones you have relied upon.
  • Show that you are simpatico by sharing your experiences and what you did in creating an estate plan. Explain to them how you got started, where you looked for help and how you may have had initial misgivings due to lack of understanding of estate planning. Cover all areas, including financial and medical powers of attorney, naming executors and trustees along with living wills/health care directives.

It is important to convince them that, ultimately, a detailed estate plan provides protection for them against matters such as scams and elder abuse. Also, an estate plan protects the family and the legacy that your parents have created. You can do it.

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