When we are young, we assume our parents will always be around. However, as we grew older, we realize that our parents are growing older, as well, and the reality is that they will not always be in our lives.
If our parents do not have estate plans set up, talking with them about their estate planning needs is essential. It is tempting to put off having this type of conversation for as long as possible, since the subject can be awkward, difficult and emotional.
The problem with not discussing estate planning with our parents, or helping them with setting up an estate plan, is if they die without a will or any estate planning documents, we may be forced to deal with the probate. This can be a complicated and lengthy process, and is something most people want to avoid, especially while grieving the loss of a parent.
Gentle and respectful
When broaching the subject of estate planning with parents, do it in a gentle and respectful manner and at the appropriate time. Consider who else should be involved, such as a sibling or other family member.
Before the conversation takes place, learn what you can about estate planning, such as all potential tools and documents, and decide which ones may be best for your parents. It may help to start the conversation by asking where they keep important documents in case you or another family member need to access them, or if they have any valuable assets that they would like protected.
From there, move to other questions, such as who they would want to care for them if they became incapacitated, or who they would want making medical decisions. As they provide answers, suggest estate planning options that can accomplish these goals.
Once parents begin talking about estate planning, they may be concerned about the cost or effort involved. This is why having an idea about what specific documents they need is a good idea. Simplify the situation by educating them on the documents they should have drafted by a professional, who can help guide them through the process.